Gibson Guitar 5K Race Recap

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I ran one of Memphis’ signature summertime races over the weekend when I participated in the Gibson Guitar/Baldwin Piano 5K.  This was the 17th running of the race, and despite the heat, it is a favorite of many Memphis area runners.  And I now see why.  My schedule or desire always conflicted with this event, but I finally got to participate in the event.

Pic of the start line taken from the Breakaway Running Facebook page

Pic of the start line taken from the Breakaway Running Facebook page

The middle of June in Memphis is not known for its comfortable weather, and race day was no exception.  The race began at 6:55 pm on Saturday, June 15, and the temperature was a cool 89 degrees.  Add in the fact that we lined up in the corral at least forty minutes prior to the race start to have the sun beat down upon us, most race participants were good and lathered up before the race even began!  Luckily, the post race water stations were available before the race began and people were able to get a little bit of last second hydrating for the race.  That was very beneficial.

1,995 racers registered for the race and 1,734 completed it.  I do believe that this is the largest 5K that I have ever participated in and I must say that race organizers did a fantastic job of crowd control.  I would have never guessed that there was that many runners there.  I guess a part of that is since the race started on Beale St. and the majority of the course is incorporated into the St. Jude Marathon course, I am use to large crowds there, so what I ran in seemed smaller than normal.

Despite the heat, very little cross-training as of late, and so slow training runs, I ran a solid race.  I was able to move my way towards the front of the corral so I would not have to weave through a sea of walkers for the first mile of the race.  Of course, this probably hurt me a little bit as well because I found myself running a little over my pace and tired out a little quicker than normal.  But, then again, that may have helped my overall pace.

M-Town Series Swag

M-Town Series Swag

The race is the third leg of the M-Town Series and was the first opportunity to collect the series race swag, so that was an added bonus.  Bonus swag at this race was not exactly because of this race, but since it is where I collected the items, I should share it in this post.  You can never have too many race tech shirts, especially when they look good.  In addition to the tech shirt, you also was given a drawstring backpack and a ceramic coaster with the M-Town Series logo.

Back of M-Town shirt

Back of M-Town shirt

Race: A-: It was well organized with some good swag and a great course.  The only real issue was parking.  The race website advertised that there would be free parking, but since Tim Tebow was speaking at the FedEx Forum, there was no free parking to be found.  Every lot near the race was sporting a $10 price tag, which is ridiculous for parking for a 5K, but I was able to circumvent the $10 charge by convincing the ticket lady that I was just coming downtown to eat dinner and escaped with a $4 parking tab.

Gibson Guitar 5K Swag

Gibson Guitar 5K Swag

Swag: B+: This would have been an A+ if the post race spread would have been better.  Of course, I might be biased since I saw a banner for one of my all-time favorite pizza places, Camy’s, and there was no pizza to be found.  Just cold cut sandwiches, smoothies, several beer stands, and some fruit.  I will say that even with 400 more participants than Zoom Through the Zoo, it was much easier to get beer and water because there were multiple locations to get the liquid refreshments.  Race bags were also superior to Zoom Through the Zoo.  I received a tech shirt, two boxes of band-aids, sunscreen, facial scrub, Lifeblood support bracelet, and some food coupons.  I received one for McDonald’s and Smoothie King, which the McDonald’s one seemed a little odd.  Some participants did get a Chik-Fil-A coupon instead.  Also, some race bags had Nike headbands, key chains, and various other skin care items.

Course: A: Like I said earlier, much of the course is incorporated into the St. Jude Marathon course.  You run on Beale St., pass the National Civil Rights Museum, run along the Mississippi River, and then return to Beale to finish up the race.  The only bad stretch is the return to Beale because you run up a steep hill to climb over the bluff, and this is where several runners hit the wall.  I was able to complete the race in 29:28, which was a pace of 9:28.  I was very pleased with this result, especially since it was so hot.

This is a race that I plan on running again if my schedule permits me to, and I would recommend it to other Memphis runners.

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Platinum Sombrero 5K Sponsor #28

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Run Guard will be the twenty-eighth sponsor for the Platinum Sombrero 5K.  Run Guard produces anti-chafe products in both regular and sensitive skin.  I discovered the brand via a #RunChat a few weeks ago.  Anyone that runs, especially those of us with a few extra pounds and/or in warmer climates know the importance of battling chafing.  Run Guard will be donating some product samples to be donated to race participants.  You can like Run Guard on Facebook here.

Sponsor #28

Sponsor #28

Platinum Sombrero 5K Sponsor #27

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The twenty-seventh sponsor of the Platinum Sombrero 5K is dedicated to running safely in the dark.  Glimmer Gear provides LED sports apparel to help you be seen.  They have an assortment of arm sleeves and cycling jerseys to chose from, along with the option to customize your apparel with your team and/or event name and logo.  Glimmer Gear has agreed to give race participants and blog reads a 25% discount on merchandise when they use the promo code PLATINUM25.  You can like Glimmer Gear on Facebook here.

Sponsor #27

Sponsor #27

ENERGYBits Review

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This is a product review that is a few weeks overdue.  Back in May, I was given a sample of ENERGYBits to try in association with the virtual race that I am hosting.  ENERGYBits is one of my corporate sponsors for the event, but gave me the sample so I would have a better idea of what their product was and in an attempt to help spread the word about their product.

Sponsor #14

Sponsor #14

To be honest, I was very skeptical at first.  I opened up the sample, and there was a pile of dark green, kinda of smelly bits in front of me.  I was thinking what in the world am I about to try?  My second reservation came when I read on the packaging that the bits were an acquired taste and even though they are chewable, I should probably take them like a normal pill.  So that’s what I did, 30 bits down the hatch.  That’s right, a recommended serving is 30 bits, so it can take a moment to ingest them all.  And if you are like my wife, taking 30 may be impossible.  I was able, however, to down all 30 in one gulp with no real issue.  The taste was negligible when ingesting in this manner.  A faint odor was left on my hand, though.  It was not overpowering or distracting during my run, but it was there.

1 serving of ENERGYBits (30 bits)

1 serving of ENERGYBits (30 bits)

I had enough bits for three uses, so I broke them up into the appropriate amounts and used them for three different exercises.  I decided to test the bits on an early morning run, an evening run and weight lifting session, and a long weekend run.

My first experience with the bits was my early morning run.  It was only slated to be three miles at 6:00 am.  May in Memphis is warm and humid, so if you want to run much, you need to be willing to get up early in the morning to do so.  Even if it is the morning after an overtime basketball game that did not start until 8:00 pm.  This is what I was facing this fateful morning.  Operating on four hours of sleep, I took my first serving of bits and hit the road.  It was humid, I was tired, and my bed was mighty comfortable, but I wanted to put the ENERGYBits to the ultimate test.  I did not eat prior to the run, which is customary for me prior to any runs that should take me less than an hour to complete, so I was relying heavily on the bits.  I must say that I was very pleased with the results of the bits.  I was mentally sharp and able to cruise through the three miles without my usual early morning sluggishness.  Now, was this the bits, a placebo effect, and pure adrenaline compensating for my sleep deprivation, I do not know, but I’ll give the benefit of the doubt to the bits.

This container holds 45-60 bits

This container holds 45-60 bits

The second workout that was “powered by bits” was the next afternoon.  It was a hot and muggy day, and I had just gotten off of work.  I enjoy working out directly after work to help free up the rest of my evening and to guarantee that my couch doesn’t get too comfortable that it causes me to abscond from the gym.  Them problem with this is that most days after work, I am mentally exhausted from dealing with some of the worst citizens in Memphis, and my workout suffers because of this.  I took my bits and headed out.  I ran two miles to my gym, lifted weights in my per-determined routine, and then ran two miles home.  Mentally, I was sharper than when I left, and while I was tired from the workout, I was not drained.  In my mind, this was another plus in favor for ENERGYBits.

The third use of bits came prior to my weekly long run.  Of course, the long run for the week in question was only four and a half miles, but being that I was building in my half marathon training and just coming back from an injury, it was a strain to get back to that point.  I was visiting my parents this weekend, so the run was completed on the hilly country roads around their farm.  I took the bits and headed out into the heat and humidity.  By the end, my legs were sore, I had worked up a good lather, and I was cursing my tendency to supinate since I was not where I was physically two and half months prior.  But I was still mentally sharp, and felt that there was plenty left in the tank to attempt a few more miles.  I would say at this point the ENERGYBits were three for three in my book for providing energy and clarity while exercising.

Now let’s get down to the science of ENERGYBits.  You can replace you mulivitamin, calcium, iron, magnesium, and omega3 supplements with ENERGYBits.  ENERGYBits are organic and comprised of spirulina algae, which has 58x more iron than spinach, 28x more iron than raw beef liver, which are the other two best sources for iron.  They are a natural source of electrolytes, provide all the required amino acids (protein), gram for gram the same amount of calcium as milk, and more Vitamin E per gram than pure wheat germ.  ENERGYBits also provide potassium, zinc, magnesium, selenium, phosphorous, Vitamin B6, folic acid, niacin/Vitamin B3, Vitamin B2, and Vitamin B.  You get all of this with no GMO’s and ENERGYBits are clean diet friendly!  Also, each bit is only one calorie!

Nutrition facts for ENERGYBits

Nutrition facts for ENERGYBits

My final verdict is that ENERGYBits did help improve my performance, and prolonged use would certainly help improve my health.  I am planning on using these during my half marathon and marathon training for the remainder of the year, and you can too.  Use promo code “runninglarge” and you will get 15% off of your order from the ENERGYBits website.  I am not a doctor, so please do not take this information as if I am.

ENERGYBits is a sponsor of my race and has offered a discount code for all of my race participants as well as my blog follows.  They did provide me with a free sample to try and review, but this fact did not influence or alter my opinion of the product.  All views in this post are my honest assessment of the product and I am not being financially compensated for these views.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Cancun, Mexico 2013

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One of the views from the condo

One of the views from the condo

Last week, Susan and I traveled to Cancun, Mexico with he family and best friend.  This is an annual trip for her family, and was only the second time that I was able to go.  And since I was in another country with rather spotty internet service, I did not post or check the blog much.  It was a trip full of ups and downs, so I thought my title separation was a good one, even if the trip had nothing to do with the famed Spaghetti Western.

Photo cred to my sister-in-law for the pic of the week

Photo cred to my sister-in-law for the pic of the week (this is our favorite restaurant, La Palapa)

The Good:  This was a vacation and that in itself is a good thing.  No work, the beach, and no chores made it even better.  We were in Cancun from Saturday to Saturday, which afforded us plenty of time to decompress and relax.  Also, being in a foreign country is about the only way my job will not call me, so I actually could avoid work for the week!

Our condo was at the Royal Mayan, one of three resorts that are adjacent to one another and are a part of the Royal Resorts chain.  My in-laws have owned there for twenty-five years and have gone to the same room during the same week for that many years.  Most of the staff has been there for that entire time as well, and it really was a second home for Susan’s family.  So, when you have that kind of relationship, it makes the week even better that being in some random hotel.  They have also made friends with other guests that own during the same week and one couple even came to Susan and I’s wedding!  This same couple is going to help me get a great discount on some new sunglasses for running since they are optometrists.

The food is amazing down there, and I certainly ate my fair share of blackened grouper this week, as well as the best fajitas that I have ever eaten.  I also drank enough banana monkeys (add rum to this recipe) to send me into a diabetic coma during an AA meeting!  Let’s just say that I wasn’t as stringent on what I ate as I should have been, but I was on vacation and every calorie was worth it.  Happy hour was from 3 – 6 pm daily, and half price drinks are hard to turn down.

There are sea turtle nests everywhere, including 18 at our resort

There are sea turtle nests everywhere, including 18 at our resort

I did maintain my Runner’s World Summer Streak, which now stands at 16 days, by running at least one mile each day while on vacation.  The day we left, I woke up at five to run my long run for the week, ran on the beach each of the seven days I was in Mexico, and then returned to my normal training/streak schedule upon returning to the United States.  I liked the new element of running on the beach and had no problem finding time to work in the runs since I was usually up a couple of hours before everyone else.

Susan and I have decided that we are going to have a Royal Mayan night periodically here in Memphis.  I am going to make the seven layer dip (Pico de Gallo, beans, guacamole, sour cream, cheese, black olives, and jalapenos) and blackened grouper tacos like the ones at La Palapa, as well as banana monkeys.  It may take a few attempts to perfect my recipes…

The Bad:  It rained in biblical proportions while we were down there, especially the first four days.  Tropical Storm Andrea was developing while we were there, so there was quite a bit of precipitation.  It rained so much that our room was flooded by rain water coming in from the balcony of our sixth floor condo!  I thought my bed was on an island the first night!  No one wants to go to the beach and have it rain everyday, but we were able to salvage a few hours each day for beach and pool time, and by the end of the week, the weather was back to normal.

Not what you want to see at the beach

Not what you want to see at the beach

Sadly, this is the last year that we will be going to the Royal Mayan.  The land lease is up, and the company has decided to sell rather than renew for another thirty years.  The other two resorts adjacent to the Royal Mayan, the Royal Caribbean and the Royal Islander, have five and ten years left, so we could arrange a return to the Royal Resorts, just not the condo that they have called home for twenty-five years.  It was a sad realization on the last day for Susan’s family, but it could definitely be worse.  There are hundreds of employees at the resort that are very uncertain of what their future holds, and with no pensions or contingency plans, their lives are about to take a devastating turn.  When I think about that, it seems petty to complain about all of the extra work that I have done this week now that I am back at the office.

If you have never been to the Cancun airport, I have some advice for you, avoid being there in the middle of the day.  It is crowded and there is little to no air conditioning.  You will suffer in the Mexican heat and humidity there at 2 pm.  You have been warned.

The only guy at the airport hotter than me

The only guy at the airport hotter than me

The Ugly:  I gained seven pounds while on vacation, so that was not ideal.  But, if I had not been running my streak miles, I’m certain that I would have hit double-digit in the weight gain category, so I will choose to look at the positive.

When I checked my luggage at the airport, I had my Armpocket stuffed into a side pocket on my suitcase.  The reason for this is because I had run with it that morning, so it was still sweaty and I did not want it on my clean clothes.  Well, after checking my bags and before picking them up in Mexico, my Armpocket absconded from my luggage!  At first, I was very confused why someone would want my sweaty armband, but Susan pointed out that whomever helped themselves to it probably assumed that my iPod or iPhone was in it, and that is why they stole it.  I had also held out hope that I had left it at home on accident, but after searching for it on Sunday, the theft was confirmed.  I registered a complaint with the airline, but I know that nothing will come of that,  so today I shelled out another $40 to get a new one.  At least the new one will be more suitable to use with my iPhone 5.

And probably the worst thing to happen to me over the week was that my banking account information was compromised and someone helped themselves to a little over $900 of my hard-earned money!  I was poolside checking my account because I am that OCD and I noticed considerably less money than I should have.  Upon investigation, I noticed that two electronic checks had been drafted from my account to pay someone else’s bills!  I immediately called my bank and was placed on hold.  Forty minutes later, I was still on hold and quite pissed.  I hung up and called back to discover that the bank was closed!  That’s right, I was placed on hold during normal business hours and forgotten about, while listening to the same recording on repeat for forty minutes of international call rates!  I let several f bombs fly over this and as of today, I have yet been able to speak to the branch manager responsible for this blunder.  Yesterday I did close the compromised account, opened a new one, changed my direct deposit and debit cards, and filed a police report over the fraud.  I have a name, address, and picture of a suspect, and later this week, the company in which the checks were drafted to will provide me with the account info associated with the fraud.  My bank did at least return my money the following day, so I wasn’t stuck in Mexico maxing out credit cards to pay my tabs.  I do

Foam Rolling for Dummies

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I have been exploring the prospect of using a foam roller so this article was rather well timed.

Eat Pray Run, DC

After reading about the benefits of foam rolling, I decided I would give it a try on my tired legs (and aching shins). WOW. It hurt like the dickens. I don’t embarrass easily, but after a few days of foam rolling at the gym and being near tears from the pain, I decided I needed my own foam roller, so I could stretch out my poor muscles in the privacy of my own home.

I purchased a jFit 18″ foam roller and it was the perfect size. I ordered mine from Amazon, but you can also find them here.

This is the model I purchased.

Keep in mind that foam rolling exercises are just that — EXERCISE. Your muscles will feel not only the pressure from the foam roller, but from holding the various positions. Also remember that foam rolling over tight / tense spots on your body will hurt at first. A lot. You may

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Non-Running Gear Review

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One of the three color schemes

One of the three color schemes

This is going to be a first on my blog, a gear review for something that you do not actually use during a run.  I was on vacation this past week with my wife’s family, and my mother-in-law could not say enough good things about her new Montrail flip-flops.  She was turned onto them by a friend of hers that routinely runs ultra marathons and other insane distance races.  This woman told my mother-in-law that most runners that see knows where these flip-flops when they are not in their running shoes.  In fact, she said that most of them bring the Montrails with them to races and change into them immediately upon completing the race.  This type of review definitely had me intrigued, and I was prepped to investigate these flip-flops when I returned home.  My mother-in-law is such a fan that she could not stand me not having a pair so she ordered a pair for Susan and me from the beach in Mexico!  I will never turn down some free gear, especially some with such a positive review.  And it is always great to come home to a present waiting for you, courtesy of the free overnight shipping on Zappos.

Pledge on the box

Eco pledge on the box

The exact flip-flop that I got is the Molokai, which is a thermo-moldable flip-flop.  What makes these flip-flops so great (or so I have been told) is that the sandals mold to your specific foot shape and gait.  This is not an easy feat to accomplish in flip-flops.  The way this is achieved is through a somewhat unorthodox manner.  You use the oven!  That is correct, you put your flip-flops in the oven at 225 degrees for three minutes, then immediately put them on your feet so that they will mold to your specific foot. You stand in the warm flip-flops for two minutes with your normal, even weight distribution then you walk around for a few minutes in the flip-flops.  This helps the shoe provide you more surface area contact between your foot and the flip-flop, this helping create a more comfortable experience.  This is perfect for a supinator like myself.

Hoe to properly break in your Montrail Molokai

How to properly break in your Montrail Molokai

These are not leather flip-flops like my current pair of Rainbows, but they certainly are not a cheap plastic like the flip-flops that you get at Old Navy or Wal-Mart.  The look and feel of these flip-flops will be suitable for everyday wear, lake use, lounging, poolside, and any other manner that you now wear traditional flip-flops.  From the looks of the bottom of these, I think that they will hold up for the long haul, and even on a trail or two!

Hardcore flip-flop bottom

Hardcore flip-flop bottom

Obviously, I have not had these flip-flops long enough to provide an in-depth review, but I can tell you that I have had no complaints over the past four hours or so.  I will update on how these flip-flops perform through the summer.  I will say that during my small sample size, these have been extremely comfortable and I wish I had these for the last week in Mexico.  If you are like me, you wear flip-flops almost exclusively during the summer months, so there should be plenty of data at my disposal soon.  Plus, I do imagine that I will be taking these with me to most of my races from now on.

Side view

Side view