Monday, June 27, 2011

Stay Classy, San Diego - Part 2

I promised a recap of the San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Marathon from June 5 but I came home with a cold, a nasty sunburn and then the poison ivy outbreak. It's been a ROUGH couple of weeks but I finally had a chance to upload all of the pictures from race weekend.

Our team arrived in San Diego on Friday, June 4 and we went to dinner at the Fish Market, right on the bay. I'm not a fan of seafood but it was good and it was nice to relax with the team after a really long flight.

On Saturday morning, our TNT staffer, Nick, and I headed to a staff and coaches meeting. I am always amazed at how many of us there are! TNT brought over 3,100 participants, 150 coaches and 100 staffers. We painted San Diego PURPLE!

After the meeting, we hit up the expo and then I met some of the team for a boat ride around the bay. It was the perfect day! The weather was beautiful and the boat ride was a lot of fun. These travel events with TNT are such a whirlwind and it's hard to do any sightseeing. Especially since you don't want to be on your feet too much the day before a race. The board ride was perfect because we could just sit on the top deck while the tour guide pointed out the landmarks.
Sea lions sunning themselves.

I didn't realize that San Diego was a naval town.
Here's a brand new ship that was being moved around by tugs.

Naval hospital's a fully functioning hospital...on a boat.
Only downside to the boat ride was that there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Despite the sunscreen, I burned my face to a crisp! I am the sunscreen Nazi so I find it very embarrassing when I get a sunburn. :(

Later on Saturday afternoon was our Inspirational Pasta Party. I LOVE TNT pasta parties! The staff and coaches form a "red carpet" to welcome all of the participants and their loved ones. There were so many participants that they had to have 2 parties. Luckily we were in the first seating so that we could get back to the hotel to get ready for the race.

During the party we honor the team heroes, cancer patients and survivors. Our team hero is Parker. He's 10 years old and recently celebrated 5 years in remission. For those that have been touched by cancer, you know that 5 years is the magic number. You are considered "cured," so this is a big year for Parker and his family. To celebrate this special milestone, Parker's mom, Ann and her sister, Mary, decided to do FIVE endurance events this year. They did the Cap City 1/2 marathon with TNT back in May and San Diego was race #2 for them. They are also planning to do the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco this October with TNT. The other two events are cycle events for other charities doing great things in our community, Bike MS and Pelotonia.

Ann said it best when she told our team that cancer doesn't attack just the patient. It goes after the entire family. This is a strong family that pulled together to tackle Parker's cancer. Parker is our official hero but the rest of his family, including little brother, Mile (our "side-hero") are all heroes in my opinion! Especially since at the end of their 5 for 5 year, they will have raised over $65,000 for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society! Click on any of the links above to donate to their events.

Our hero, Parker, super-mama, Ann and the side-hero, Miles.
Our team met in the hotel lobby at 4 am to take a team photo and to head to the starting line. Everyone seemed to be really excited, even a little relaxed! We had several alumni on the team so this wasn't their first show. I still felt like a parent sending a kid off to kindergarten though...especially as I watched them board the bus, with their names taped to the front of their shirts. :)

As a TNT coach, we are assigned zones to make sure that the coaches are evenly distributed on the race course. With 150 coaches but 3100 participants, we want to make sure no one is left behind. I was assigned to the full marathon course, miles 14-17. That meant that I couldn't take the bus with my team to the start line. Shhh....don't tell my team this but I actually went back up to my hotel room and laid down for about an hour. Then, armed with a map in a strange city, I made my way to a trolley station. I knew I was in the right place when I found a group of probably 30 coaches standing on the street corner, wearing wings, capes, lights and other assorted costumes. I love it! I was bummed because I forgot my light-up stars. I have worn these for every event that I've coached since 2007! They have survived A LOT of miles but also the rain from the 2010 Cap City 1/2 and 2010 Nike Women's Marathon.

After a trolley ride, I found my assigned zone on the course. I lucked out that I could actually see both the half and full marathoners. Mile 10 of the 1/2 course is also about mile 14 of the full marathon course. It turns out that our 1/2 marathoners though were walking and the full marathoners were running. Since I was assigned to the full course, that meant that I was supposed to stay with that group. I never did see my 1/2 marathoners because the full runners got to mile 14 before the 1/2 marathoners got to mile 10. I knew the 1/2 marathoners would be in good hands with the other coaches though.

I spent a couple hours at mile 14. That time was spent crashing a nearby Carl Jr. restaurant with a coach from Canada to use their restroom and cheering for the marathoners but cheering extra loud for the TNT peeps. There isn't much to do other than that for the first pack of runners. Those people are running so darn fast that they don't really want people jumping out at them and running alongside. Plus, I can't keep up with those people anyways. Once the pace starts to slow though and you can start to see pain on faces, that's when TNT coaches tend to spring into action. Even if it's for only a few feet, we reinforce why they are out there and encourage them to keep moving.

My first marathoner to get to mile 14 was Jim, aka The Silver Fox. He happens to be a run coach with our chapter. He's been with TNT since 1875 and just now took two seasons off from his coaching duties to enjoy his real life retirement. He couldn't stay away though and signed up to do the Country Music Marathon back in April and San Diego since he wasn't coaching (we can't race if we are coaching). He hasn't really been around since 1875 but he's been involved with TNT for about 19 years....17 of those years have been spent coaching. San Diego was marathon #93 for him so I wasn't too worried about him. When I did see him though, he stopped to walk with me and said he was just going to enjoy the rest of the race and take his time. When he says something like that, you never know what's going to happen. His race antics have included stopping at a White Castle, playing a hole of golf and having a beer all while on the course. Jim is a legend around Central Ohio. :)

Once I saw sisters, Ann and Mary, I jumped out and ran with them until almost mile 17. Yeay for runners that I can actually run with! :) The sun was so intense by this point. The breeze made the temperatures feel ok but my fair skin and the sunburn from the day before was angry. There is a long out and back on the course between 16 and 18 so I sent the sisters on their way while I waited under a bridge (shade!) for one of our other marathoners.

Ingrid! I met my other marathoner around mile 16. Bless her heart! By the time she got to me, she was walking and had her knee wrapped up....but she also had a smile on her face. Her knee was not having it but she smiled her way to through that race! I walked with her for awhile and then cut the course to meet her again around mile 18 to take her in to the finish. The last couple miles of that course are pretty rough (on concrete instead of blacktop and no shade). The last 2 miles are DESOLATE as it circles around Fiesta Island but Ingrid kept the team spirit and despite her gimpy knee, she just kept smiling and I crossed the finish line with her.

And because TNT is awesome and Central Ohio had an amazing team, almost the entire team was waiting at the finish line to cheer us in. Even after finishing their own races, they stuck it out and waited. Love it! We shared our war stories before heading back to the hotel to wash the stink off. The entire team finished and they were all happy! Happy participants = happy coach!

It was about a 8 hour day for me out on the course and I estimate that I covered about 18 miles. That was the furthest I have been since the Goofy Challenge back in January. The good news is that the tri training must be keeping me in distance shape because I wasn't sore at all after the race. Even during the height of marathon/Goofy training, 18 miles would have made me sore, even if I walked the entire distance, but I felt great!

Let me legs felt great. Eight hours in the sun with only one application of sunscreen is not enough. I burned in the "high sweat" locations...backs of the knees, inside of the elbows and along my shirt collar (minus the void where my ponytail was hanging). Ouch. That wasn't pleasant.

After cleaning up and resting, we headed to the TNT Victory Party to refuel and relax. It was a perfect evening so we ended up sitting out on a patio, having a few drinks and enjoying each others' company.

We had a later flight home on Monday but it wasn't quite enough time to do any sightseeing so I took advantage of the room service and the fact that I DIDN'T have a laptop and just laid in bed most of the morning...until a trip to the drug store was required. I ended up being so sunburned that I started to feel sick. I walked to a nearby drug store for some aloe (the heavy duty kind with lidocaine) and ibuprofen. Yuck. I did enjoy having a quiet morning to myself though. Despite being exhausted from the race and the sunburn, I felt like I got a chance to recharge my batteries. Sometimes you need to unplug in order to do that though!

It was a great trip! I once again got to be apart of a wonderful experience as a TNT coach...part of a team that raised over NINE MILLION DOLLARS for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I get chills just typing that! That's nine million reasons why Parker is still here with us today. But we haven't found a cure yet. So we will keep racing and keep raising money until we find it because you never know, that next dollar and that next mile might be the one that finds the cure.


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