Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Race Report: Asbury Park Half Marathon

Being myself before the race...
After work on Friday, I headed out to New Jersey to stay at my aunt and uncle's place in nearby Oakhurst, to be in close proximity to the startline of the Asbury Park Half Marathon on Saturday morning, only 15 minutes away.  The trip down was about two hours from Manhattan, add to the fact that there was a boat that needed to pass underneath the drawbridge.  After a night out for dinner (and drinks, duh), we headed back to their home so I could get some rest for the early morning ahead.

The beautiful Asbury Park boardwalk
before the race
Saturday morning, bright and early, we headed off to Asbury Park for them to drop me off to meet my friends, Joe, Donna, and Ali, near the startline.  After a little traffic the closer we got to the boardwalk, I found them.  Ali, visiting from Georgia, and finishing her 37th state (and 89th half marathon!) had provided the three of us with some awesome sunglasses commemorating our accomplishment during this race, as well as an outline of the state of New Jersey to pin on ourselves along with some text describing where we were in our Fifty States journey.  We posed for a few pictures on this beautiful morning before walking up toward the Asbury Park Convention Hall along the boardwalk.

Pre-race with my awesome friends - (L-R) Donna, Ali, Joe, and me
(photo by Ali Levering)
A pre-race "ussie" with Joe and Donna
At 8:30, we were off.  Immediately, we saw we were crossing the start mats, which came as a surprise to us - apparently no big "gate" showcasing the start - oh well, we can't have it all.  We started running down Ocean Avenue, and about two minutes in, I run into a fellow member of my running club, Marcus!  He's a fast one, so once we exchanged hellos and some small talk, he was off... he'd later finish in 1:50!  The course turned right onto Asbury Avenue and then followed Cookman Avenue, one of the main drags of Asbury Park, up to Bond Street before hitting the mile 1 mark.  We turned left around the block to follow Lake Avenue, with Wesley Lake to our right.  Somewhere along this area there was a humongous dead rat in the middle of the road.  LOL!  We returned back to Ocean Avenue, but this time taking the road northward, always staying close to the boardwalk and the ocean.

As we continued northward, we would traverse bridges, like the one across Deal Lake, with concrete below our feet.  This would be a trend that continued all through the race - changing terrain, multiple times throughout the race.  We hit the 3 mile mark as we turned left, up into the villages of Loch Arbour, Allenhurst, and Deal, zigzagging back and forth on streets, passing some gorgeous oceanfront homes - many of which are probably millions of dollars in value.  We finally returned back to a straight shot on Ocean Avenue northward, doing a turnaround at Roosevelt Avenue, where we continued back where we came from on Ocean Avenue, but going southward.

Donna caught this photo of me on the out-and-back
on Ocean Avenue.  Definitely my most favorite race photo!
Around this time, I felt a tap on my shoulder, and had some fellow runners acknowledge my accomplishment of reaching my milestone 20th state (my New Jersey cutout was pinned to the back of my Camelbak, which I opted to use for this race, not knowing how the course hydration was going to be).  They were very complimentary, and really surprised to know I had only been at this for a little over a year.  I continued on and started doing some fartleks with "landmarks" along this long stretch of road, just to break up the monotony.  Soon, we'd hit mile 6 and mile 7, and then were at Deal Lake once again, but this time continuing along Ocean Avenue toward the water and to the boardwalk.

Now this is where things started to get a little hairy.  After over seven miles of mostly asphalt, here we were transitioning to wooden planks.  And... the temperature also started to rise.  We continued down the boardwalk, which was starting to get a little more busy with people, many of them cheering us on as we passed the finish line area, but headed south as we still had to go down to Bradley Beach and Avon-by-the-Sea.  Further down, we passed the old Asbury Park Casino, now sitting vacant, but remnants of its shell remain as we ran through the facility.  Beneath our feet - tile.  And then after that? Stone pavers.  We drew to the right a tiny bit and all of a sudden?  A 20-yard area of sand.  The constant changing of terrain was very difficult to get used to.  Luckily it was only a small area, which we would repeat later... but after that, we returned to asphalt, then concrete, then wooden planks yet again.  Then more stone pavers in a recently refurbished section of boardwalk that had been damaged by Hurricane Sandy. We ran for what seemed like forever, along the boardwalk, until we were finally directed to turn around just before Shark River Inlet.  And from there, we were sent along the asphalt and concrete of the sidewalks that lined the boardwalk.

Awesome post-race photo provided
by GameFace Media.  Did I mention how
hot it was?  See here I was photobombed
by someone needing medical attention...
We'd return along that long stretch of boardwalk, and have to go through that sandy patch yet again, back through the shell of the casino, and back to the boardwalk, where we saw the finish line in view. I crossed in 2:16:32, which at first, I was a little disappointed about because of how flat this course was compared to Raleigh the week before, which I had finished faster -- however, the constant change of terrain really messed with me this weekend.  The temperatures soared to an unseasonably warm 77º on the boardwalk, with high humidity, too.  In fact -- check out my official finish photo, showing off my 2-0 for twenty states done... I actually get photobombed on the right side by a woman in a gurney requiring medical attention at the finish line.  But all in all, it was still a great race, and I got to race alongside some great friends and mark off yet another state in my list.  When we finished, we got together in the Convention Hall to claim our shirts and grab a quick bite to eat, then dipped our feet in the cold Atlantic Ocean waters, before heading out for a proper lunch in Keyport, closer to Joe's home, and then headed back on the next train into the city.

State 20, done and done!

Posing on the beach with Marcus, Joe, Donna, and Ali!
Found the fattest chihuahua I've ever seen, at the finish line.
Coco is THREE years old, and is OBESE.  She needs to go on a run.
A diet, then a run.

Victory headstand... on the boardwalk, no less.
With New Jersey on my crotch.

Parting shots.  And I'm twerking, yet again.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Race Report: Rock 'n' Roll Raleigh Half Marathon

As per usual, I was running to my gate at the airport for my flight to Raleigh.  I had to wake up super early for my flight, as I was leaving on a Saturday morning from Newark airport - not exactly very easy to get to from Queens.  The bus from Port Authority took forever to get to the terminal, and when it finally did, there was a HUGE line even to get through Pre-Check, but luckily, I was through in less than 10 minutes, and managed to reach my gate with lots of time to spare.

At the expo with Amy!
I landed in Raleigh and proceeded to get my rental car for the weekend, and went to my friend Amy's in Durham, where I was staying for the weekend.  Amy and I are college friends who sang in different a cappella groups while at Michigan, but were super close.  It was great getting to hang out with her and catch up, as it had probably been about two years since we last met up.  I dropped off my stuff with her, and she came with me to the expo in Raleigh to pick up my bib and check out her first runner's expo.

It was a decent sized expo, but some of the "staples" were missing - there were only a couple shoe brands represented, but no New Balance, no Saucony... I hung out with Ryan and Amy V, my CGI friends, at the Rock 'n' Roll booth, and also signed my friend Amy and I up for the free Dublin trip/race entry raffle!  While there, we ran into some friends from the "Black Sheep Run" Facebook page that I participate in, and posed for some photos.

The startline
We started to get a bit hungry, so we headed back to Durham for some lunch and also to check out the local Fleet Feet in Southpoint, to get Amy fitted for some proper running shoes.  Amy's been working her way through about a half hour of running a few times a week in her neighborhood, so it was fitting for me to be with her to have her try out a good pair of real running shoes.  Helping us with our purchase was George, who was actually was pacing the 3:15 MARATHON for Rock 'n' Roll Raleigh the next day... a blistering 7:26 average mile pace.  While there, I ended up purchasing a brand new pair of shoes that I hopefully will get to test out at a future race - a pair of Karhu Fluid3 Fulcrums, a solid lightweight neutral shoe, made by a nearly 100-year old Finnish sports brand.

Black Sheep Run, pre-race
After a little nap back at Amy's apartment, I headed back out to meet up for dinner with some new running friends from Black Sheep Run, and then later a little dessert with my cousin Alex.  Unfortunately, during this evening, I got the news that my uncle Deo had passed away.  I had just visited him a few weeks before while in Texas, when he had first been admitted to the hospital.  The prognosis was not great at the time, and our family was just hoping for the best.  The news rocked me, but gave me a new perspective to just run the race the next morning with him in my mind.

With the Marinos, most attractive
racing couple at RnR races

And that's exactly what happened.  I woke up very early on race morning to get myself into Raleigh before the streets would close and before traffic would be a nightmare getting to the parking deck.  It was a nearly 30 minute drive to Raleigh from Durham, and I got there early enough that I was able to take a quick nap while in the car before getting myself through my immediate pre-race rituals. I slipped into the Sheraton around the corner from the startline to get out of the breeze that still made the morning a little chillier than expected, and ended up meeting with a few friends from Black Sheep Run, Fifty States, and Half Fanatics while there.  6:40 came along, and I headed out to the startline for a photo with friends and then caught up with my racing buddy Dave Grudzien, before we headed out.

With Dave Grudzien at the start
The course starts off on Salisbury Street and loops around toward Capital Boulevard, heading north and passing the Convention Center and North Carolina State Capitol on the right before turning on West Jones Street, past the North Carolina Museums of Natural Science and History, then finally hitting the one mile mark. It then loops around again for a 1.5 mile trot down Blount Street before heading out of the downtown area.  The elevation change is minimal until approaching the mile 3 mark, around a turn at the John Chavis Memorial Park.  Right at the turn, there was a selfie station which, I of course stopped for!  The route began to preview for us the abrupt hills we would begin to encounter on the route.  We hurried northward along Bloodworth Street, then curved eastward toward a road alongside the Historic Oakwood Cemetery.

The Shaw University Band playing for us along Blount St


I am such a 12 year old boy.
Just after mile 5, we took a turn west onto Glascock Street, which of course, my twelve-year-old-like mind found quite hilarious.   This area was a much more residential area, and we approached the mile 6 mark alongside William Peace University.  A turn onto Peace Street led to a stretch of two miles, much of which I zoned out for... well, roughly until about the 7.5 mile mark, when a brunch place in Cameron Village, right along the route, had the smell of bacon wafting into the air... At mile 8, we finally made a turn onto Pogue Street, which turned into Everett Avenue.  Right along this curve was an area where members of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Team In Training were cheering on their participants and photos of runners'  friends and family members' who had passed from these illnesses lined the curb.  I started to get choked up, thinking about my uncle again.

I saw these guys three times along
the course! Dedication!
We continued along and hit Hillsborough Street, and the north part of NCSU's campus.  This part of the course was very pretty, and reminded me of where I went to college in Michigan!  We curved around the eastern end of the campus, hitting mile 9 around a roundabout, and then onto the hilliest parts of the course on Pullen Road.  We turned onto Western Boulevard, where we were led to a park-like area at mile 10. Then, for about a mile and half, were led through an area with a thin two-lane road within this park. In between mile 11 and 12, we were treated to another section of photos alongside the curb of the brave men and women who died serving our country, as well as flag bearers.   As we exited onto Saunders Street, we started to go downhill, and then turned left onto Lenoir, where we were forced to ascend another sizable hill.  It seemed to not end!  One more hill at the 12 mile mark on Boylan Avenue, and then we turned onto Morgan for a quick zigzag back toward downtown and the finish line on Fayetteville Street.

Medal haul: DOS!
When all was said and done, I finished the hilly Raleigh course in 2:13:43.  I met up with friends Wesley and Martin, as well as Amy and Ainsley at the gear check area, and then with several members of Black Sheep Run in the post-finish festival area at the Red Hat Amphitheatre, where I got to pick up my "Roadie" for completing five RnR events!  I even got to do my headstand with my guest star from the First Light race in Alabama back in January, Sophie!  At the beer tents, I met up with De Moe and Dave, and by chance ran into fellow Front Runner NY member/Mark Fisher Fitness ninja Kenny!  Turns out - he's doing a bunch of RnR's too!  It was awesome getting to see so many running friends in one place, with incredible weather, and after an awesome race!  Next up.... New Jersey!

De Moe and I... repping Team Fireball!

Ran into Kenny, and had him partake in the Team Fireball madness!

#victoryheadstand with the Raleigh Convention
Center Shimmer Wall in the background

#victoryheadstand guest star, Sophie!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Race Report: Philadelphia LOVE RUN Half Marathon

My weekend in Philadelphia was going to be an easy one - bus in, attend the expo, judge an a cappella competition, run a half, bus out.  I took a 10:45am bus on Saturday morning to head to Philly, getting there literally 3 minutes before the bus left, and lo and behold, there are FLURRIES coming down in New York City.  It's freaking March 28.  Anyway, the two hour busride went by quickly, as I slept through most of it, and we were at the Philadelphia bus stop just before 1pm.

I took the SEPTA train down to AT&T Station, the South Philadelphia Sports Complex where practically all of the Philadelphia professional sports teams have their arenas and stadiums, as this was where packet pickup would be held for the LOVE Run.  Getting there around 1:30, Citizens Bank Park was just opening up for runners. CGI had set it up pretty well, establishing a good flow for picking up the bibs, t-shirts, commemorative mugs, as well as any other accoutrements that were being sold as part of the expo.  Except, it was COLD.  And this being a baseball stadium, there were several parts that were essentially outside, exposed to the elements.  I felt bad for the exhibitors and volunteers who were forced to be outside for the duration of the expo, as the brisk wind was not helping at all.  Most of the booths were pretty typical, anyway, so I managed to get in and out pretty quickly, even posing for a photo op with the Phillies' 2008 Commissioner's Trophy, which they won when they last won the World Series.  I grabbed lunch at McFadden's Bar and Grille (a tasty Italian pork sandwich!) before heading back into town to check into my Airbnb.

I stayed at a comfortable Airbnb located in the Fairmount neighborhood at Poplar and 28th Street, only 15 minutes from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where the start and finish of the race would be early on Sunday morning.  It was very much a no-frills accommodation, having a room and bathroom to myself in this middle-aged couple's home.  After settling in for a little while, I headed to the Drexel campus to prepare for the evening's festivities: the Mid-Atlantic Semifinal for the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella.  I've been a judge for these competitions at the quarterfinal and semifinal level in multiple regions along the east coast and south for the last five years - this is the real singing competition that the movie Pitch Perfect is based on!  Long story short - ten groups, long evening, and the best group won, they'll be heading to the Beacon Theatre here in New York City on April 18 for the Finals!

Bright and early I was up to get myself to the startline for the Love Run... and it was COLD.  26º at the beginning, I walked the fifteen minutes bundled up and then stuffed everything into my bag to give to the UPS trucks, then wrapped myself in a foil blanket that I brought with me from a previous race.  Soon, we were off, heading down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and around Logan Square, the same way the Philadelphia Half Marathon started back in November.  We turned onto Arch Street, passing the Convention Center and then making a turn onto 6th Street, just before Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. We turned again onto Market, on a nice long stretch before making our way around Philadelphia City Hall.  We returned back onto the Ben Franklin Parkway and hit the 3-mile mark at Logan Square.  My first three miles, which were pretty flat, were going out quite well, which boded well for my goals of beating my November time.  We returned to Eakins Oval in front of the Art Museum, but this time took the road heading to the other side of the Schuylkill River, where we would take Martin Luther King Dr for about 1.5 miles.

We turned into Fairmount Park and encountered the first of our big hills, and headed toward the mall in front of the Please Touch Museum, passing the 6 mile mark, and then a fast downhill toward mile 7, returning back to MLK Drive.  We'd stay on this again for another 1.5 miles before hitting the second big "hill," the onramp up to the Strawberry Mansion Bridge at Mile 8.5.  The last of the hills would be ascended after crossing the bridge into the east side of Fairmount Park, hitting mile 9 rounding the Strawberry Mansion Music Pavilion, and then returning to the bridge for mile 10 and another downhill down the offramp back to MLK Drive.

We'd do the turn around just a little further upriver, and then it was the last 2.5 miles all the way back to the Art Museum, where we would get back to the finish line.  I was hitting a great stride toward these last few miles, and was progressing toward a very strong finish in Philadelphia, eclipsing my November half time by a lot.  When I crossed the finish line, my time was 2:09:38 - fourteen minutes faster than November, and of 11 halfs this year, my fastest!  Bodes really well, as this was my SIXTH half marathon in successive weeks in the month of March.  I ran a total of 81.7 miles in the month of March, and posted my fastest half at the last one!

with Pam and Steve at the finish line!
After the race, I stuck around to get my customary headstand photo taken, and then stuck around to track my friends Pam and Steve from New Hampshire as they crossed the finish line. While waiting, I also happened to witness a marriage proposal at the finish line, which was pretty special!  I even tracked down the happy couple on instagram - who were ecstatic to get a photo from another angle :)

The trip was quick... after getting refreshed and packing up my stuff, I went to the fantastic mainstay brunch place in Philly, Sabrina's, and had a massive stuffed French toast... it was perfect and got me well rested for my trip back to NYC.  Half marathon 25, completed!

The proposal I witnessed at the finish line!

Victory Headstand, with Philly City Hall composition at
a perfect location, hehehe....

Yo Adrian!

Stuffed French Toast... yum!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Race Report: Rock 'n' Roll Dallas 5k and Half Marathon

My fourth Rock 'n' Roll half of 2015 started off poorly, with snow coming down on the first day of spring in New York, heralding a expected flight delay from 6:30pm to 7:40pm from LaGuardia at around noon on Friday.  And then to 8:25pm.  I got to LaGuardia after posting a full day at the office, and with snow still falling, was VERY worried about my flight taking off.  But thankfully, only delays were the issue between the LGA and DAL flights, and the inbound flight from Dallas had taken off when I was en route to the airport.  I sat in LaGuardia's gross Terminal B for a few hours, waiting for the inbound aircraft to come in, while biding time writing race reports for this blog, and Virgin was entertaining their passengers by staging a trivia contest, with a free movie/premium channels/drink, for correct answers... and I managed to win a free movie by answering that LaGuardia was their newest destination!

Rise and shine, pre 5K!
Finally, we got word that the inbound aircraft was hovering around New Jersey airspace, waiting for an all clear from LGA air traffic control to land.  They finally got in around 8:30, and we were slated to leave at 9:05.  We boarded quickly, and then sat on the tarmac for another TWO HOURS.  Apparently, a Frontier Airlines plane was blocking our way out and then the line and time it took to get deiced was doubled because of only one working deicing truck.  Ugh, whatever.  We finally landed at Dallas Love Field at 2am.  I grabbed a cab and made it to the hotel where my friend/roomie, Nicole, was already at, to quickly get my kit ready for the next morning's 5K and get some z's.

Posing for photos during the 5K
With hardly any sleep at all, I begrudgingly get up for the 5K with Nicole and head to Fair Park, where we would do the 3.1 mile trek, starting from Cotton Bowl Stadium, on the pathways around the nearly 80 year old complex that housed the Texas Centennial Exposition in 1936.  I knew from the start it was going to be a very rough 3.1 miles for me because of my lack of sleep, hydration, and nutrition from the day before -- and while posing for photo with Nicole and friends Hollie and John who joined up at the start, I exclaimed, "this is going to be a 40 minute 5K for me..." I managed to grab a photo pre-race with American record holder Deena Kastor, who was pacing a group of folks (7:30 miles I believe?  Too fast for me...) and then we were off.  I realized about a half mile in that my shins were not going to take it very well, and I started walking shortly after hitting the one mile mark, when we embarked on an out-and-back along a long stretch of asphalt between the 2k and 4k marks.  Somewhere along this way, I ran into my friend De Moe, and we did our ritual fireball shot, walked and chatted for about a mile, then returned to a casual jogging pace to the finish, stopping to take a quick photo here and there too.  I crossed the finish line in precisely the amount of time I had told my friends - at a mere 39:58.  Luckily the rain held off the entire time, and it began to sprinkle a tiny bit as we left the park to head back downtown.

With Deena Kastor
Nicole and I headed to the expo to pick up our bibs and schmooze around the convention center.  The expo was fairly large, with many of the booths housing Rock 'n' Roll's typical vendors.  I restocked on my KT Tape and Nip Guards, before heading to the RnR booth to say hello to Amy and Ryan, whom we chatted with for some time.  While there, I met another fellow Hall of Fame "seeker," Amy (from Chicago) and her friend Ainsley; as well as Deb and Jake, who I had originally met in Phoenix in January.  Shortly thereafter, Nicole and I parted ways, I grabbed a quick lunch, and then I returned to Fair Park to see a bunch of friends who were performing in their second preview of THE KING AND I, playing at Dallas Summer Musicals.

When the show was over, I headed back to Market Center and met up with Nicole, and we proceeded to Dallas Love Field to pick up Donna, who had run a local (NYC) half in Queens on Saturday morning and then flew out to do RnR for Sunday.  We made our way to a fantastic (albeit LOUD) restaurant, The Social House, in the Uptown neighborhood, where we ate to our heart's content and then re-met up with Hollie, Deb, and Jake.  It was a packed day and we were all tired, so we headed back to the room to rest up since the following morning we had to brace ourselves for another potentially wet race.

The crew for dinner, night before the race
Race kit for the half...
The forecast all week for Sunday was rain, rain, rain - and the air felt super saturated when we woke up.  We made our way to the DART, as we were going to take public transportation to the startline, and thankfully, there was no rain - but the ground was wet from the night before and overnight.  We took our time getting to gear check and then heading over to Union Station to do last minute bathroom breaks, and then posed for pictures with fellow members of the Fifty States Half Marathon Club, and then walked over to our corral to get ready.  Soon, we were off.  I was planning to run with Donna and Hollie on a 2:00/1:00 walk/run and help them pace, but yet again, my legs were feeling off.  We ran the first mile down Young Street, and I started to feel the pain again in my shins and calves.  Donna and Hollie pulled ahead and I kept to my own clip on the 2:00/1:00 before hitting the turnaround on Canton Street before mile 2, and the straightaway down Commerce Street, one of Dallas' main drags.  The crowds began to thicken as we approached the 3 mile mark, and Donna and Hollie were still far ahead of me, or so I thought.  We made a turn onto N. Market, and then found ourselves facing the "gates" to the historic West End neighborhood of Dallas, which had been turned into a "Selfie Station!"  Lo and behold, there's Donna and Hollie posing, and I had managed to catch up!

Selfie station before mile 4!

Team Fireball!!!!
The three of us continued down Elm Street and hit the mile 4 mark, which thankfully was the beginning of a slight downhill (minus a teeny uphill bridge across the Trinity River) for the next mile, as we passed the old Texas Book Depository where Lee Harvey Oswald had shot President Kennedy back in 1963.  Salt-n-Pepa's "Push It" came on my iPod mix at about that time, if I remember correctly! The three of us continued our 2:00/1:00 system as we hit a couple hills before turning right onto Sylvan Avenue and hitting mile 6.  This was where I remember the road being abhorrent and in really poor condition.  Thankfully by this time, my legs started to overcome the pain and soreness that I had experienced over the first three miles of the race, and we made another turn onto Singleton Boulevard, and approached mile 7 and the majesty of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, built by renowned architect Santiago Calatrava in 2012.  And like clockwork, we run into De Moe at this perfect picture taking spot!  Naturally, Team Fireball is reunited, and we take our ritual shots with the beautiful bridge in the background.

This stretch is unusual in the case that the race has shut down an entire stretch of working highway.  There are two harrowing looking "hills" along the highway ramp that runners have to ascend before the clover shaped offramp just before mile 8.  Here, the sky seemed to open up and the sun peeked out of the clouds for the first time in the day.  Hollie and I have continued, working our way through the uphills and running through the 2:00/1:00 just to take advantage of the momentum and speed heading down the ramp. Just before turning onto Continental Avenue, we hit another large group of spectators cheering us on!  I explain to Hollie that around mile 9 I'm going to just keep going and run through to the end.

Pioneer Plaza - Cattle Drive!
(photo by Donna Dullys)
Perfectly, we hit the mile 9 marker right after passing a DJ booth where I got to twerk (just a little) in the middle of the race.  I took some GU and then gave my love to Hollie before setting off for the last four miles of the race.  These last four miles went by pretty fast for me... making a slight right onto Oak Lawn Avenue, I made my way up a fairly significant uphill (for this race, at least), hit the 10 mile mark, and then made my way down Turtle Creek Boulevard and Olive Street for the last three miles of the race, hitting one more significant hill toward the end of the race.  I hit the finish in 2:26:32, sweating bullets, as the humidity definitely did a number on me, deflating me right up to the finish.  Hollie came in not too much further behind me, as did Donna, Nicole, and several other friends.  We happily collected our remix challenge medals, posed for more pictures, and then walked back to the start to do a highly necessary photoshoot with the cattle drive sculpture in Pioneer Plaza, just outside of Hollie's hotel.  We headed back to the hotel, packed up our things, and then headed to the airport for our flights home -- another successful weekend and yet another half done!

Victory Headstand, with a twist... (longhorn legs?)

Margs and medals.

The best sign I have EVER seen on a race course...