2015 Germantown Half Marathon Review

2015 Germantown Half Marathon finisher's medal
Standard

This is not my first time running in this event, and it will not be my last. I have reviewed the race a couple of times now, and I find it redundant to do a full review each year as long as the organizers and course remain constant, which they did for this year. Instead, I am going to talk about this day in particular and the 2015 version of the race medal and swag.

Susan captured this pic of me running along the course

Susan captured this pic of me running along the course

What a difference a day makes for the weather! After the rain that never seemed to end, this race day ended up beautiful. The day started chilly, but warmed up as the day progressed. Sunday ended up being the best day of the year thus far, even if it did not feel that way in the second half of the race. After months of freezing temps, the mid-60’s felt like a heat wave and hammered me on the run. It did feel great to be in the sun and to not be bundled up after the race.

Determination late in the race

Determination late in the race

By using a run walk ratio for the Andrew Jackson Half Marathon on Saturday, and then again for this race on Sunday, I was able to actually finish this race, and the more difficult course four minutes faster than the day before! I was very pleased with my efforts during the race and even though this was much slower than last year’s event, I think that I am returning to a good place with my running.

2015 Germantown Half Marathon finisher's medal

2015 Germantown Half Marathon finisher’s medal

Swag: B+: For the second year in a row, there was a redesign of the race medal, shirt, and logo. It was another great design, and certainly trumped what was done for the race for the years prior to 2014. I preferred the designs from 2014, but this year was still very good. I love that this year they made a long-sleeved shirt for the race, even if they keep you guessing on the proper size to order with the constant changing of shirt brands and types. For anyone that is a repeat participant in an event, it is nice to have a variety of shorts for an event, and in this capacity, this race is succeeding.

2015 Germantown Half swag

2015 Germantown Half swag

The race organizers also did something great for the race participants. There was a large number of late registrations, and rather than having a medal shortage fiasco like a couple of years ago, they were proactive in their approach. They emailed everyone, letting them know that if you registered after a certain date, you would not get a medal on race day, but rather you would have one sent to you when the second batch were finished. To determine how to distribute the medals for the races, they color coordinated race bibs. If you had a green bib, you got a medal. A white bib meant that you did not. It worked great from what I could see after I finished.

2015 Andrew Jackson Half Marathon Review

Andrew Jackson Half Marathon finisher's medal
Standard

Saturday I took the hour drive up Interstate 40 to Jackson, TN to tackle my first of two half marathons for the weekend at the Andrew Jackson Half Marathon. This race is a smaller race, and offers a marathon, half marathon, and 5K with staggered start times for each event. There really was not an expo, just a registration and packet pickup at one of the gyms on the Union University campus.

The day did not start off great with the week-long rain still lingering for most of the morning. It was not as heavy of a rain as the rest of the week, but it just exasperated the amount of liquid along the course. It also marked my third half marathon of 2015 in which the weather was not great. This is a risk you run with spring events. We all know the possibilities, and signing up early to save some cash will limit our ability to cherry-pick races according to weather.

Being that this race was going to be my first of two half marathons for the weekend, I decided to take it easy along the course. I even violated a cardinal rule for running by trying something new on race day. Of course, my something new was not new shoes, apparel, or fueling, but rather new pacing. I decided to try incorporating a run walk ratio for the race. I assumed that using a pre-planned run walk regiment would help preserve my legs for the following day’s race, and it would help curb my instinct to push it hard, especially early in the event. The run walk ratio was a successful strategy for this event for me. I was sore after the event, but not as much so as I would have been if I would have used my same race strategy. Of course, my finish time was not spectacular, but this weekend was much more about completing the events, not a PR.

Andrew Jackson Half Marathon finisher's medal

Andrew Jackson Half Marathon finisher’s medal

Course: B-: The word that best describes this course is boring. It was a mix of rural and residential streets with sparse crowds throughout. The volunteers were fantastic, and there were an adequate amount of water stations along the course. There were some moderate, rolling hills and the course was open to traffic. Race organizers did a great job of stopping traffic for runners to cross, but with the standing water along the course, some areas got a little tight with motorists and runners. The crowd at the finish was great and encouraging, so that certainly is a positive from the race.

Andrew Jackson Half race shirt, bib, and medal

Andrew Jackson Half race shirt, bib, and medal

Swag: B-: Tech shirt and medal constitutes the swag for this race. The post race spread consisted of bananas, orange slices, and bagels. The medal has been polarizing for the people who have seen it on my social media outlets. Personally, I like the idea they were going for, and for a presidential nerd, it is fantastic. The medal, however, looks a bit off. Susan finds the medal creepy. It looks like one of the following three things: 1) a Michael Myers mask, 2) Andrew Jackson wearing an Andrew Jackson mask, or 3) or Christopher Walken dressed as Andrew Jackson. Judge for yourself.

Overall: B-: It is a small race that is well-organized and for a great cause (raises money for the prevention of child abuse and neglect). For future events, organizers should work for a bigger post race spread. They had a dinner the night before the race, which would be great for people staying in the Jackson, TN area, but something post race would be great as well. I hope that they keep pushing the envelope with the use of Andrew Jackson. Think the Lincoln Presidential Marathon which has had medals look like pennies, $5 bills, and race shirts have shown Abe in various running situations. Have some fun with it!

I would probably run this race again being that it is so close to Memphis.

Back to Back Half Marathons

Double Weekend
Standard

Next weekend will mark my first attempt at running a half marathon on back to back days. I have run a 5K, half marathon, and 5K in consecutive days, a 10K and half marathon back to back, a marathon, and even two 5K’s in one day, but never double-digit race miles on back to back days. This is going to be a challenge, but one I want to attempt. My training is not 100% where I want it to be at this point, but I am confident that I will be able to complete my goal. After all, I am not too proud to walk if the need arises. Double Weekend   While prepping for this endeavor, I reached out to fellow runners through social media for advice. I am not personal trainer, but I thought that the information was good, I feel obliged to share it here. The information is as follows:

  • Hydrate!
  • Eat more than you think you should. Do not gorge yourself, but I will consume more calories than normal, so fuel properly.
  • Clean and quality fuel will help in the recovery process.
  • Rest. Get extra sleep to recover…
  • But do not rest too much. Keep moving after race number one to keep my legs loose.
  • Foam roll and stretch after each race.
  • Compression gear after each race.
  • Do not try to PR, run for the joy of it.
  • Chose one race to run harder in than the other.
  • Actually train with back to back long runs.

There were some other responses, but this is the gist of the information that I received. The two races I have chosen to run back to back are the Andrew Jackson Half Marathon in Jackson, TN, and the Germantown Half Marathon Germantown, TN. This is about as convenient as back to back races can be with the ability to sleep in my own bed and travel about an hour at the most to a race.

Mercedes-Benz Half Marathon Race Review

2015 Mercedes-Benz Half Finishers Medal (the pic could be better, but I did not want my ugly, sweaty mug in it)
Standard

On February 22, I was in rainy Birmingham, AL for my first running of the Mercedes-Benz Half Marathon. All that I knew about the race was that the race bling does not change from year to year, and 99% of participants are perfectly happy about this. In fact, that race medal is very well know throughout the running world, and was one of the most complimented medals that I have posted on my Facebook wall. And I agree, it is hard to argue with the beauty of the Mercedes-Benz symbol as a race medal. It pops, and it demands attention. But what about the rest of the race? Does it live up to the hype of the medal? In my experience, I would have to say yes.

2015 Mercedes-Benz Half Finishers Medal (the pic could be better, but I did not want my ugly, sweaty mug in it)

2015 Mercedes-Benz Half Finishers Medal (the pic could be better, but I did not want my ugly, sweaty mug in it)

Despite the rain, I loved my experience at the event, and I understand why so many people race about the event. Honestly, the race was smaller than I was expecting. It was much closer to the Mississippi Blues size than the St. Jude Memphis or Country Music Marathon events. And for this, I was appreciative. These mid-range races are the best for me. The overall event seems to be about the runner and cause more than just having a large number. I love some of the big, corporate races that I have run, but not being herded like cattle for thirty plus minutes before starting a race certainly has its perks.

For my performance in the race, I was not at my best. Snow, ice, cold, and rain have hampered both my ability and desire to train as diligently as I would like or need to do.I am staying active, but often I am not giving maximum effort, and it is showing in my finishing times. But, I am finishing, and I am starting to make progress back to my late 2013 form. I am pleased with how I finished this race in particular with the rain throughout, and having to spend the entire previous week battling cabin fever due to most of my exercise outlets being incapacitated by ice.

Course: A: The course itself would be graded differently if I ran the full marathon rather than the half. For the full marathon, you run the course twice, which I would not prefer. But since the course is a double loop, it eliminated several logistical nightmares that certainly enhanced it for the half marathoners and marathoners alike. For the half marathon, there were eleven water stops! Yes, eleven! Now, I did not need that many stops on this particular day, but with the uncertainty of the weather, it was awesome to have that many options. I am certain that the marathoners would agree with this sentiment. After the start, the course never  crowded for me again, and it looped throughout downtown and other points of interest in Birmingham. There was crowd support everywhere, even in the rain, and there never was a question of which way to go, even when the marathoners and half marathoners had separate paths to the finish line. The course started flat, hit some hills for miles four through nine, and then finished flat again, for a net gain of one foot of elevation, which was remarkable. A huge thank you to the numerous volunteers and spectators along the way! Y’all made the race even more enjoyable!

2015 Mercedes-Benz Half Marathon Swag

2015 Mercedes-Benz Half Marathon Swag

Swag: A+: I already spoke about how great I felt that the medal is/was/will be. I also enjoyed the simple design of the race shirt, and the fact that the tech shirt still fit true to size. So often races shirts are cut for the super elite runners, and not people like me that it is a crap shoot to receive an appropriately sized shirt. There also were some gloves, coasters, and one part of a system called the Gotta Go Poncho, which was the talk of the expo as I was leaving. Just Google it, and will see what I mean. Too bad we did not get the entire system because I am very curious how many people would have used them on Sunday morning. All finishers also received a race themed beach towel, which is a race first for me, but certainly awesome. The post race food spread was separated into two areas. The first was at the finish with Powerade, water, fruit and such. The other was a BBQ and beer party inside the expo. The line was long by the time I finished, and since I did not stay at a host hotel, I headed back to my hotel to shower and checkout so I could head back to Memphis at a decent hour. I feel that I missed out by doing this.

Google this. Trust me.

Google this. Trust me.

Overall: A: I loved this race, the volunteers, the swag, and the entire experience. I am very happy that I won this entry from the 100 Half Marathons Club because without it, I might never have decided to experience this race, which would have been a shame. I highly recommend this race to others, and I would certainly run it again in the future.

This was my seventeenth half marathon, and fifth state total in which I have had to run a half marathon. I met several Half Fanatics at the race, including a guy from Wayne Dobbins, GA, who I talked to for he entire walk to the starting corrals and wait for the race start. Also, a local running group in Birmingham had Run the Ham on the back of their shirts at the expo, which is awesome. If I lived there, I would probably wear that shirt to every one of my out of town races.

Music Highway Medal

Standard

Music Highway Medal

First off, my race recap for the Mercedes Half Marathon should be posted on Monday morning. It has been a hectic week, and I just have not done it yet. In the meantime, I wanted to share with all of y’all the Music Highway medal that I received this week for running the Country Music Half Marathon in Nashville and St. Jude Half Marathon in Memphis as a St.. Jude Hero.

Staying Active in the Ice

TRX-Banner
Standard

Currently, Memphis and much of the mid-south is experiencing some intense ice coverage, which limits what can be done. I currently do not have a gym membership, but I can go to the student rec center when it is open. But, of course, with this ice, comes school closings, and thus, the student rec center is not an option. Likewise for boot camp since it follows the University of Memphis’ decision to cancel classes and activities or not. I could try my hand at running along the streets, but with my propensity to fall, that seems like a huge gamble. Especially with the Mercedes Half Marathon coming up this Sunday. Therefore, I must find ways to be active within the confines of my house.

We may see a couple of these on the Memphis roads.

We may see a couple of these on the Memphis roads.

Last night, Susan suggested that I try an interactive program called GoNoodle that they use at her school. It is a way for students to learn while being active. The learning fractions was not of my concern, but the activities were. I did a combination of indoor running, Zumba, yoga, and calisthenics. It was a better workout than I was expecting, and it was a great way to keep moving.

TRX-Banner

Tonight, I am going to do some TRX and other body weight exercises. TRX is always a quick and easy way to stay active at the house, so if this ice maintains for a few more days, I should be covered. I should be able to reach the end of my ice induced hibernation without gaining an obscene amount of weight.

Monday Motivation: Jeff Galloway Edition

Standard

Galloway

I am a part of a blogger program through Jeff Galloway in which he provides some tips and insights for sharing with my readers. Today is the first one of those posts. So, without interruption, the following are a few tips on running from Mr. Galloway:

When paced correctly, running delivers the best attitude boost you can get. Sustain this by pacing yourself gently during the first mile or three.

A well-paced run enhances vitality for the rest of the day.  Start each run at least 30 seconds a mile slower than you will run at the end.

If you have a Run Walk Run strategy that is right for you on that day, it’s possible to feel good after every run-even the marathon.

Running is the best stress reliever I’ve found. Research shows that running tends to activate the conscious brain which over-rides the emotional subconscious brain and manages the negative and anxiety hormones during and after the run.

Research shows that as runners get faster, their stride length shortens.  A quicker cadence is the mechanical key to faster running.

The finishing of a run that is longer than you’ve run in the last 3 weeks can bestow a sense of achievement that is unique and empowering-due to positive brain circuits that are turned on.

You can’t run a long run too slowly or take too many walk breaks.  You’ll get the same endurance based upon the distance covered.

Of course Galloway is known for his run, walk, run programs and his association with runDisney. I have never tried his run, walk, run program, but I am considering it for a future event just to see how it goes for me.