Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Last of the First 100 - Rock n Roll San Antonio Weekend 2015

I wonder how important milestones are. I remember the first marathon and how much I looked forward to finishing it and joining the half of one percent who've finished an endurance event. I have a feeling that percentage has changed in the last 10 years, but we've also raised our bar. Fourteen full marathons (or 13 and an ultra) a dozen 5K, 10K and 15K races and 99 half marathons later, we came into San Antonio ready to close out the year with a bang.

The end of the calendar year is significant for the Rock n Roll Marathon series. With the TourPass program, this is the last chance to add races for the Hall of Fame and Heavy Medal program. This year 84 people finished 15 or more races. My Facebook feed already has a lot of people trying to figure out if they will keep that schedule for 2016 or take a break for when the Heavy Medals are redesigned.

We've already signed up for 12 races. I think people know our intentions.

As much as we appreciate the races and the opportunity to travel and see friends across the country, this journey would not be the same without the people who make the races happen. We'd like to thank two of them for their friendship and years of service.

Darlene retired after San Antonio. She is always one of the first staff members we see in the Brooks merchandise area. I've purchased many a luggage tag or half-zip pullover over the years after chatting with her. She's a SoCal resident, so we hope to see her at RNR San Diego or Los Angeles (assuming LA comes back on the schedule). 

Amy V. recently moved to New York and is leaving CGI for other opportunities. She worked the Rock n Roll booth getting people to sign up for more races (like we need encouragement?). We usually saw her after the races to pick up Heavy Medals. I like to think that's one of the better assignments, other than explaining how medals 2 - 4 are sent by mail dozens of times every race.

Amy and Mindy (center) at the RNR Booth.

This was the first of a lot of pictures of friends making the Hall of Fame this year. The other blog has more details. The 11 people in this picture have finished about 170 races in 2015 alone. That doesn't count the Remix races.

With the 10K on Saturday, we headed out for a late lunch at The County Line on the Riverwalk. Once again something about the RNR Gypsy group makes it easier for us to find each other. Drew was just in time to share our brownie dessert.

Drew also had a dilemma. With the Stairway to Seven Heavy Medal on the line and a badly sprained ankle, he rented a knee scooter from a local medical supply store to see if he could finish out the year. Drew wanted to do a test race for the 10K and knew he needed a lot of tweaks. Fortunately, we were able to connect him with Ilona who finished her last 10 races of 2015 on HER scooter, many of them with sub-2 hour times. I'm amazed at how determined our friends can be to overcome adversity.

I followed Al and Drew to Hotel Havana for pre-dinner cigars and drinks. I didn't partake of either, but it was great to catch up with Jim, Beth and David. We've been on this journey together for five years. And no matter how long it's been since the last time we met, we pick up the conversation like we just left each other. 

Grainy night shot. Maybe with a better phone, I'd get the better selfie?
Drew and I left to meet Susan, Sherry, Ethan, Michelle, Ted and Garrett at Rosario's for a late dinner with Kamika joining us later. I didn't realize how many places we've been that we now want to revisit, all because of the races. We've eaten here 5 times in the last three years.

Saturday, December 5th.

We had a civilized 9 AM start for the 10K on Saturday. The short walk to the starting line at the Alamodome was chilly, but sunny. Drew was ready to get some miles in to test the scooter. 

The 10K course is pretty flat and so far this year I PRed at the 5K and half marathon distances. Why not make it a clean sweep? When I decide to push a race, there aren't many pictures, if any. It was a good 10K and I took nearly 3 minutes off my previous PR. 

Race 1 done. Photo op with Joe who volunteered to hand out water for the finishers. Truly a class act.

Al helped Drew navigate the brick roads near the Alamo in the early miles. Susan and Kamika stayed with Drew for the last 4. I'm really glad I went back out to catch this picture. It'll be 6 weeks until I see most of these friends again.

One down. One more to finish the year.

Post race lunch was at Charlie Wants a Burger. With pretty much everyone on the TourPass circuit doing the Remix, it wasn't surprising that we'd run into a lot of them. This group? 240+ Heavy Medal races in the RNR series this year alone. Pretty incredible.

Dinner was back at The County Line because of the long waits everywhere on the Riverwalk. The menu is a carnivore's dream, but surprisingly Susan-friendly. Baked potatoes, grilled veggies and another Kahlua brownie with apple cobbler and we were set. We called it early to make the 6 AM parking lot closure the next morning.  We went with our throwback Half Fanatics jerseys for the occasion. With over 13,000 members, being #1731 and #1732 makes us old-timers. The bibs are courtesy of a club we recently joined. If you have more than 10 half marathons complete, check out the 100 Half Marathons club. They have some great member only discounts and are in the process of redesigning the club's shirts and singlets.

Thanks, Joe, for the thoughtful card and gift card!

Sunday, December 6th. Our 100th Half Marathon

We splurged for VIP this weekend to take advantage of gear check and a great seat for the headliner concert afterwards. Temps started in the high 40's. Susan actually shocked herself with how cold her hands were when she crossed her arms for this picture.

One of my favorite race memories was sharing a space blanket on the bridge at Rock n Roll Montreal in 2013. It seems we were walking down memory lane a lot in San Antonio.

Michelle added one more race so she could make San Antonio her 100th half. That weekend was raining and cold, so I feel kinda guilty about applying peer pressure.

OK, not really. 

The back bibs drew a lot of attention. We counted about as many 'congratulations' on the race as the halfs we've completed.

Parts of racing that we love. Where else can you take a selfie with the elites of the craft? Olympian and Boston Marathon winner Meb was also cheering people on after the 10K the day before. I gave him a high five at mile 5.

This was not a push race. I wanted to finish with Susan, so I was taking time out for pictures. We caught Kamika in his usual place - just over the starting line so he could see all his friends off.  Cue crazy faces.

Two years ago in the early miles of SA2LV we passed this building.  Susan swears she doesn't remember it. Heh.

Two years ago, Al took a picture with a guy in a pink pig costume with an air conditioning unit in his rear end. This year, no pig, so we settled for the restaurant sign. We may try their food next year when we come back. Susan may pass.

We weren't the only ones celebrating a milestone. Lida was finishing her 100th FULL marathon in San Antonio. Her Superwoman costume came complete with a cape with a huge 100 on the back.

I'm not usually one for planning moments like these, but with such a big achievement looming, I made sure I let Susan know it was coming. Thanks to Al for capturing the moment and for Ann for the wonderful shout out (and the goofy dance off).

Al was juggling two phones at the time. Here's the picture centered.

Our 100th half was in the books. All that was left was collecting the hardware. Mindy and Amy had a busy day handing out Gold Records and Hall of Fame microphones.

We thanked Tracy and Josh for all the work they did to keep Rock n Roll going and making it a great experience. The thank-you scroll to the CGI staff that was signed by the Heavy Medalists at the expo is on the way to headquarters as we speak.

Drew finished his half in a little over three hours. Word has it he even got a phone number from a young lady who helped him get his scooter up the hill at mile 9. The Stairway to Seven was well earned. He skipped the Dallas half the following week to heal.

As the headliner (Third Eye Blind) started playing, it was easier to dance without the pound and a half of metal around our necks. Our table looked like a high stakes poker game. If you think about it, each of those medals probably conservatively cost us upwards of $7500 in races, air fare, hotel, meals and swag.

Milestones are big deals. I get that now. Sometimes a big goal looks so intimidating you have to break it down into smaller steps. Ten years ago, we had no idea we'd be looking up and seeing our 100th anything when it came to races.

Now we're looking forward... to the next 100.


Rock n Roll San Antonio was held for the 9th time under the Rock n Roll name in 2015. This was the second year CGI offered the 10K Remix. There were 18,845 total finishers (2,506 in the full marathon, 12,053 in the half, 2,282 in the 10K and 2,004 in the 5K). In addition to Meb (CGI VP or Running), elites Kara Goucher, Shalane Flanagan and Amy Hastings were on hand for tune ups leading up to Olympic trials.

Not much has changed in the course in the last few years for the half marathon. The first 10K go through downtown and the last 10K go up the hills through Trinity College. Starting temps for the last three years have ranged from the high 40's to the mid 50's ending in the low to high 60's. It hasn't rained on us since we've raced there.

Big congrats go to our friends who had memorable races in San Antonio.  After setting the goal to run 20 RNR events this year, Amy H. capped off the year with her first full marathon.  Victory Headstand Runner, Jim D. dedicated his marathon to his uncle who passed away last year. Jim set a PR by over 8 minutes. Kudos this weekend also go to Mitch G. for completing a marathon in the last of the 50 states (plus DC). Mitch completed the circuit at Honolulu on December 13th.

We've already signed up for 14 Rock n Roll Races in 2016. San Antonio is on the schedule. We'll be waiting for the schedule to firm up in October - either SoCal or Vancouver - to figure out the 15th. 

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