A Long, Cold Run

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My WDW Marathon training saw my training reach new heights this week when I eclipsed the 20 mile barrier for the first time! This really should have occurred a couple of weeks ago, but I was ill-prepared for my run that faithful day and I had to settle for a 16+ mile long.  I am following Jeff Galloway’s marathon training plan, which offers plenty of recovery runs and not too many long runs to prepare runners for a marathon.  This week’s long run was supposed to be 23 miles and next week, but with the St. Jude Half Marathon in two weeks, I decided to push up the run a week.  I will likely do the same for my next long run,  26 miles, but I will wait and see on that.  Also, I decided to go for 21 instead of 23 since it was the median between 16 and 26.  I felt that splitting the difference was a more prudent move.  I hope that I was right!

Yep, it was cold.

Yep, it was cold.

It was colder than the norm here in Memphis and I do not have much experience with running in the cold.  Usually I have a lull in my running schedule after the St. Jude Half and the runs I do complete are of a shorter variety so I can work them in on the warmer days of the week.  I know that several of my readers live in colder environments than what I experienced, but a wind chill of 14 is nearly crippling to a southerner like myself.  But I sucked it up and I got out there to complete my run.  I really do not have the proper attire for weather this cold, but I made do with a tech tee, half-zip jacket, and an Under Armour skull-cap.  I do not have any long pants that I can run in and this is a problem that I need to rectify before my next cold run.  In fact, it was so cold that ice was forming from the condensation and sweat on my Camelbak.  That was certainly a first for me!

Yep, that was ice on my Camelbak

Yep, that was ice on my Camelbak

The run went about as well as I could have hoped by going into uncharted waters. My pace was about what I expected and hoped for during a training run, even if I started to tail off after mile 16 or so.  I decided to use a run/walk ratio of 3:1 after mile 17 and while this helped with my training, it did not help combat the cold!  Actually, the Galloway plan calls for run/walk ratios for training runs, especially the long ones, but this is the first time I experimented with a true run/walk ratio.  Come January 12, if I start to struggle, this 3:1 ratio will be how I complete the race, so getting familiar with how I would do that process is helpful.

Another takeaway from my long run is that I was starving by the end.  Before half marathons, I typically have a banana and some peanut butter, but this was not sufficient for 20 miles or more, even with some race fuel.  I also did not carb load prior to the run like I would an actual race, but I certainly will do that for future long runs of this distance.

Five Articles You Should Read

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Throughout each day I browse the internet because I am bored, addicted to the internet, and looking for a minor diversion from school and work.  This browsing leads me to read quite a bit about sports, television, the latest craziness in the world and fellow bloggers’ accomplishments.  I tweet or share in Facebook the articles that interest me the most.  So on this Friday morning I thought I would share five of the articles I read this week that might interest fellow runners.

  1.  “Batkid Day Was Awesome: Here Are My Pictures” – Filmdrunk (OK this was last week, but was very awesome and should be shared as much as possible.
  2. “A Pair of Helping Hands Under the Golden Gate Bridge”  – Runner’s World – add this to the list of things I want to see and do in San Francisco
  3. “Five Better Names for a Half Marathon” – The Clymb – the author makes some valid points about the name and #2 is certainly my favorite.
  4. “5 Running Tweaks That Took an Hour Off My Marathon Time” – Daily Burn – stuff that you have probably seen before, but it is still good to think about again
  5. “Out There: Into the Light” – Competitor Running – an amazing look at the psyche of a competitor

FlipBelt Review and GIVEAWAY

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A couple of weeks ago I was presented with the opportunity to test the FlipBelt out on my runs.  I was also given one FlipBelt to giveaway to a lucky blog reader, but more about that in a few moments.  What is the FlipBelt exactly?  It is advertised as “the world’s best running and fitness belt workout belt.”  I cannot with 100% accuracy say that it is the world’s best running belt, but I can say with 100% confidence that it is the best running belt that I have ever tried.  Currently, there are eight colors available on their website and five different sizes to help guarantee a perfect fit.   I have included the size chart so you can get a better idea about the fit of the belts.  As you know, I am a larger runner, so finding a good fit can be a bit of a challenge for me.  I went with the extra size option and it fits perfectly.  For reference, I wear a size 36 in pants and I have had zero issues with the belt.  I chose black because it is a basic color and since the belt would be concealed by my shirt most of the time anyway, I did not need a color that would standout too much.

*Unisex Size Guide
Belt Circumference Unstretched
**Max 
Stretch
Circumference
 
Waist
Womens
Mens
XS
22”-25”
0
23-26
25”
33”
S
26”-29”
2-4
26-30
26”
36”
M
29”-32”
6-8
30-32
28”
38”
L
32”-35”
10-12
32-36
31”
43”
XL
35”-38”
14-16
36-41
34”
48”

Shipping was lightening fast from the FlipBelt.  I ordered my belt on a Tuesday afternoon and it was at my house by Friday of the same week!  It is hard to top that, especially since shipping is free inside the United States!  I went on a run with the belt on the first day that I got it and I have used it in the bulk of my runs since.  In fact, one of my first runs with it was in the Midsouth Championship Half Marathon, and it definitely did not slow me down in that race!

This is what it looks like

This is what it looks like

The belt is very comfortable and you barely know that you are wearing it.  My first run in it, I had my house key, iPhone, and three GU packs (just to see how it felt) packed into the belt.  After five miles of running, nothing had fallen out or shifted into an uncomfortable manner.  Furthermore, the belt did not bounce up or slide down once during my run.  And that is still true to this day.  I have run several times now with some hefty items, and the FlipBelt still stays securely in the place that I place it in.

An idea of how it works (taken from their website)

An idea of how it works (taken from their website)

The belt has slits around it in which you slide your items into it.  You can then flip the belt so the slits face your body, thus further securing the items inside the belt.  There are no snaps, ties, Velcro, or any of the such fasteners.  I have not had any issues with hot spots or chaffing from the belt or stored items as of yet either.  This has been true for a 5K that I have run in it as well as a half marathon and a sixteen miler last weekend.  The only issue that I have had with the belt is that my iPhone 5, in its Otter Box, is very snug in the belt, which makes it difficult to use during a run without stopping to pull out the phone.  Also, when running with your phone, place the screen of your phone so that when you are wearing the belt, the screen will face outwards.  This helps with condensation and allows you to use it a little easier as well.   And since the belt is a spandex-Lycra blend that is worn close to your body, you might want to invest in two belts unless you want to do laundry a little more frequently than you current belt.

Pros:

  • Comfortable
  • No bounce
  • Stores several items
  • No chaffing (as of yet)
  • Items stay secure
  • Multiple sizes & color options
  • Cheaper than several other options out there

Cons:

  • My iPhone with its case fit a little snug into the belt
  • I am curious to see what happens with the belt in the extreme heat and humidity of the Memphis summer

The Bottom Line:

I wish that I would have bought this belt months ago.  It is very comfortable and performs as advertised every time.  I am going to purchase at least one more so that I can wear a FlipBelt on consecutive days without worrying too much about its cleanliness.

The FlipBelt has been kind enough to offer all of my readers a 10% on the FlipBelt by simply using the coupon code RunLrg upon checkout.  They have also been kind enough to allow me to give one lucky reader a FlipBelt of their own.  You can enter the giveaway here.

I was not paid or compensated in for this post besides being provided one FlipBelt for the review.  All opinions and observations are my own, and have not been influenced by an employee of FlipBelt or any other outside sources.

Randomness

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It has been an insane week for me thus far, but I decided to take a break from my office duties to allow my faithful readers to indulge in some randomness.  I could probably write longer entries on the majority of what will be included in this post, but I honestly do not have time to do so right now.  So enjoy this ADHD blog post!

Meet Molly

Meet Molly

1. Meet Molly.  On Wednesday, Susan and I drove to Hayden, AL to rescue the newest member of our family, Molly.  She was at a pet rescue there and had previously been rescued from a kill shelter.  When she was rescued from the kill shelter, her hair was matted to the point that it had to be cut off by scissors because the shears would not work.  Susan and I cannot fathom anyone ever surrendering a dog to a kill shelter, but especially not a dog as comfortable around people and playful as Molly.  She took to us immediately and once we got home, Beau and her acted like they had been brother and sister for years.   We are not 100% of her breed or age, but we know that she is at least part doodle, which is great for me and my terrible allergies, and estimate that she is between one and two years old.  She was found in the same area in which we got Beau, so I feel that there is a high probability that they both came from the same breeder and that her original owner came upon some hard luck that led to the less than ideal situation for Molly.  Susan and I are happy that we found out about her and were capable of rescuing her.

Side view of my apple after starting with the top.

Side view of my apple after starting with the top.

2. Thanks to a Facebook post, I have discovered a new way to eat an apple. So yesterday I saw a post on Facebook about how we have been eating apples wrong for years.  Today, I happened to have an apple in my lunch, so I thought that I would try this fancy new way of enjoying my apple.  And to my surprise, the new way worked!  I feel like Charlie Kelly discovering fruit for the first time in the “The Gang Hits the Road” episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.  You can read the whole article here.

Infographic on the financing for the new Braves Stadium

Infographic on the financing for the new Braves Stadium

3. The Atlanta Braves are moving to Cobb County.  On Monday, the Braves dropped a bombshell on their fans by announcing the intention to move the Atlanta Braves from their current downtown ballpark, Turner Field, to the suburbs in Cobb County.  The new stadium would still have an Atlanta address, but the local fans have been freaking out a little bit.  My take is that this is great for the team because the construction of Turner Field was done with very little imagination or planning, and the place is just OK.  Theoretically, the new stadium will provide a new revenue stream for the team (which hopefully will be applied directly to the roster) and should help with the gameday experience.  Traffic is terrible everywhere in Atlanta, but currently, the Braves do not have a real interstate exit for Turner Field that can be accessed before and after games.  Also, there is one bar or restaurant within walking distance of the stadium and crime kinda sucks there too.  For a Braves fan from Tennessee, I say “Bring on Cobb County!”

Memphis

Memphis

4. Advice for travelers to Memphis.  I have come across a couple of articles today about food in Memphis.  I have eaten at the majority if the places mentioned in both, and I can vouch for most of the content in both of these articles.  My one exception is that locals go to Charlies Vergos’ Rendezvous for dry rubbed ribs.  This is false.  Locals do not eat at Rendezvous.  It is a tourist trap these days.  You can find better ribs at Blues City Cafe and Central BBQ.  You can read the articles for yourself here and here.  Also, Susan, maybe we should try Restaurant Iris for the first time for my birthday next month…

5. I saw Thor: The Dark World this week.  It was better than the first Thor movie, but not as good as The Avenger’s or Iron Man.  They did a fantastic job of establishing the characters and it is a fun movie.

Grit 'N Grind, a staple of the Grizz

Grit ‘N Grind, a staple of the Grizz

6. Maybe Lionel Hollins was a great coach.  After the first eight games of the season, most people here in Memphis have given up all hope on the Memphis Grizzlies.  The Grizzlies are 3-5 and not playing good defense, which was a staple of their success over the past few seasons.  But, it is November and there is a new coach, so I will wait a little while longer before passing judgment.  Also, I think fans need to start a petition to stop The Commercial Appeal from abbreviating the name to Griz.  It is Grizz.  Griz looks stupid and is not how the team shortens their name on social media.  The Commercial Appeal argues that the mascot’s name is Grizz, and when you are referring to the team, the spelling should be different.  It should not.

7. My running is back to normal.  After a horrendous run on Sunday, I have been able to hit the reset button and had a couple of good runs this week.

8. One more race?! Unbelievably, I only have one race left this year.  My goal for the year was to run in at least one race per month in 2013, and I have blown that goal out of the water thus far with 27 races so far.  The St. Jude Half Marathon on December 7 is my last scheduled race for the year.  This definitely feels a little weird.

The Bad Run

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We have all had a run that did not go exactly to plan.  Our pace was off or we could not complete the desired mileage or we experience more than usual pain or we encounter any myriad of obstacles to the run.  The point is that we all have had a run that falls short of expectation.  It is a part of running and should not be  too discouraging.  After all, we are still out there, logging miles, and putting forth the effort to get better.  As long ass we are running smart and prepping well, we will get something out of the run.  Sunday’s long run provided me with some teachable moments from one of the worst runs of my life.  Well, it probably was not  the worst run of my life.  That distinction would certainly go to elementary school gym class, when I was a fat little kid that got winded checking the mail.  But this run is definitely the worst that I have had since I started my running hobby.  Even the run that caused my injury was not bad since I did not feel the wrath of the injury until the following day at the office.  What made this run so bad was that it could have been avoided.

Knowing your body and what you need to have a successful run is quite important.  Ignoring what it takes to have a successful run is not wise, and is what causes so many people to become jaded about the sport in general.  My run on Sunday was scheduled to be 20 miles, but I did not reach this goal for a multitude of reasons.  I was not mentally or physically ready for this run, which was to be the longest that I have done up to this point, and vital to my WDW Marathon training plan.  Let’s look at the ways that I failed on this run.

It happens to all of us, I suppose

It happens to all of us, I suppose

1. I was hungover.  Susan and I went to a fundraiser for the Streetdog Foundation here in Memphis the night prior to my run.  They had bourbon.  I like bourbon.  I drank bourbon, a lot of bourbon.  Thus, I was dehydrated and not well rested for the 20 mile run.  I have drunk in moderation the night before runs, but never runs of this magnitude and never to the excess that I did on this evening.

2. I did not properly fuel. Since I was hungover and dehydrated, I was also starving.  I did not have my usual prerun foods at the house, and decided to postpone my run until the afternoon.  This would have been fine if I would have gone to the store, bought some bananas, maybe a Gatorade, and spent the morning prepping for the run.  I did not.  Instead, we went to one of our favorite breakfast places where I ate a large breakfast, and did very little re-hydrating, though the latter was due to our waitress, not me.

3. My head was not into this run.  From step one, I knew that I was not 100%, and this negative energy was not helping once I hit the double-digit miles.  Running is as much a mental sport as it is a physical sport, so when you get off balanced mentally, it can be just as disastrous as a physical imbalance.

4. I did not allow for a proper recovery from last weekend’s races. Last weekend was a huge accomplishment for my running goals and physical well-being.  I ran races on three consecutive days, exceeding my projected times in all three events, and I felt great afterwards as well.  The problem is that I logged over 19 hard miles last weekend, and then asked my body to go longer than it ever had on a single run this weekend.  I probably should have kept my mileage down this weekend and bumped it up to 20 next weekend.

I ended up running 16.10 miles at a pace that was recorded via a sundial.  My legs ached and all I wanted to do was stop running.  I did, however, force myself to run further than my previous long of 15 miles, so there is that.  Sunday’s run is definitely going to serve as a reminder for future runs that I need to stay focused on the entire process.

Run For Your Lives, the Resurrection

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A few months ago, I wrote about my disgust with the Run For Your Lives for how they had kept changing the Tennessee event and ultimately canceled it.  You can read about that here.  The price structure also kept changing and I felt that their time was limited.  This year had already seen the demise of the Hero Rush event series,  and those events did not seem to have nearly the amount of issues as Run For Your Lives.  Earlier this week, I noticed that my previous post about the event saw an incredible amount of traffic.  I thought it was weird, but did not look into it too much.  In fact, I only thought that I was rather lucky that my event was canceled in May so I got a refund.  Then, on Halloween, I saw a post on Facebook about people talking about some confusion about the event coming up in Phoenix this weekend.  Apparently, all registered participants for upcoming events were sent emails this week that the events were canceled and they should contact their bank about getting a refund.  That’s right, the event was folding and not issuing refunds!  This is exactly what I expected from the people in charge of the event.

New RFYL logo from the Facebook page

New RFYL logo from the Facebook page

Then enter Human Movement, the company behind events such as The Color Run, The Ugly Sweater Run, and 5K Foam Fest.  Human Movement not only took over for Run For Your Lives,, but they were honoring all previously scheduled events.  Obviously there were some changes to what people were expecting, but the bottom line was that everyone was going to have the opportunity to run in these events.  If your bank gave you a refund, so what, because you were still registered since the previous race organizers did not issue the refund.  Now that is great customer service!  You can learn more about this week for the event here.

Sunday, I checked the Facebook page again because I was curious to see how yesterday went.  While visiting Facebook, I noticed that Human Movement has decided to organize more Run For Your Lives events for 2014, with Memphis being one of the locations!  I am going to be very interested to see how this plays out in the future.  I am posting this for general information, and nothing more.  I was given a free entry to The Color Run in the past, but that is not why I am posting this.  Rather, this entire situation intrigues me.

Race For Education Recap

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My third race of the weekend was the Race For Education held in East Memphis.  Proceeds for the event were donated to Shelby County Schools and since Susan is a school teacher, running this event seemed appropriate.  Supposedly if you registered as a runner for a specific school, that school received a direct contribution from the race.  I hope that is the case.

Shelby County Schools need your help!

Shelby County Schools need your help!

The race was a three miler and after a 5K and half marathon, I was just planning on completing the race vertically.  I know others have run in events like the Goofy Challenge, but this was my first experience with events on three consecutive days.  My legs were sore, but I was able to run a very strong race.  In fact, if this race would have been a certified 5K, it would have been very close to a PR!  My official time was 26:57, which I thought was great for running on stiff and sore legs.  After the event, I told Susan that I wanted to find another 5K soon so I could go out it 100% to see if I could eclipse my PR.  We shall see.

Race for Education Swag

Race for Education Swag

Swag: C-: I will bump this some once there is some proof of donation to Susan’s school, but for now, it is a D since all we got was a t-shirt that was nowhere near the best race shirt that I have gotten.  There was plenty of bananas, oranges, and bottles of water post race for many more runners than were registered.  Also, I had my lowest bib number ever with a 3, which was the product of being the third registrant for the event.

Course: B: Solid, but hilly course that went through some commercial and residential areas.  It was a three mile course with chip timing and plenty of shade for a mid-afternoon race.  The biggest issue was that participants in the fun run that followed the actual race blended in with the racers which led to a little bit of chaos from the start.

Overall: B: I’m all for helping the school system and doing it with a run is a bonus.  I will be very interested to see what happens with this event next year after the school system splits once again.

 

Midsouth Championship Half Marathon Recap

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This was the second of three races that I ran over the first weekend of November.  This was the first time that I have run in this event, which was my third half marathon since September 1, and second in thirteen days.  This also marks my third state to run a half marathon both all time and since September 1.  It is amazing to think that I have been able to do this.  Even more unbelievable is the fact that the last half marathons that I have run have been my fastest two!  And to be honest, I did not know what to expect from this small town half marathon, but I must say that I was pleasantly surprised.

The race is held at Wynne High School in Wynne, AR, which is about an hour from Memphis, which is one of the reasons that I signed up for the race.  I would not have to get a hotel room and I could just wake up early and travel to the race.  Also, the registration fee was only $27, which is by far the cheapest half marathon registration that I will ever find.  I have run 5K’s that have charged more than this!

Heading towards the finish

Heading towards the finish

I woke up and headed out to the race at 6:00 am.  I wanted to get to the event early since I was not able to go to the early packet pickup on Friday afternoon.  As I headed out, I pulled up the directions and realized that the race was a little further away than I expected, so my anxiety accelerated a little bit.  And my anxiety did not subside when several notices about road construction were posted on I-40.  Luckily, traffic was not bad this early in the morning, and I was actually able to make great time on my way to the race.

Much like the 4 Bridges event, this one race was quite cold with the temperature at 45 degrees when I got out of the truck.  At least I had a hoodie this time and was much better suited to battle the cold.  The line for the packet pickup was not too bad, and waiting until the hour before the race was not a detriment to my race.  A bonus to having the event at the local high school and the fact that the race was not huge was that participants could use the schools bathrooms with little to no lines.  Yep, a half marathon with indoor bathrooms and small lines!  There were also several port a potties, but most of us did not need visit these since we had the indoor options.

Someone was happy to see me!

Someone was happy to see me!

This was supposed to be my first half marathon without Susan.  At the St. Jude Half Marathons, she can drive around the course with her dad, a retired cop, to see me at various points.  Our hotel for the Tupelo 14.2 had a shuttle, so Susan did not have to leave with me at 4:00 am.  At 4 Bridges she had the ability to stay at her sister’s apartment near the finish line until I was close.  With this event, there was no such luxury, so I was prepared to run it alone.  However, as I was approaching the finish line, I saw Susan with our dog Beau!  It was a great to see them and completely unexpected.  She apparently was sad that she was not going to be there with me so she decided to head over to the race.  It was definitely a welcomed site.

I did not know how well I was going to run the event provided that I had run a race the night before, but I did not have any issues during my run.  I started strong, and a little faster than ideal, but I was able to get it under control before it detracted from my entire race.  After about five miles, I knew that I had a shot at my second straight PR, but I was not going to get ahead of myself.  I was simply going to run the best race that I possibly could.  I ended up with my second fastest race ever, which is not too shabby.  In fact, my last mile was my fastest of the entire race!  I was able to run mile thirteen at a pace of 8:55, which was my sixth sub 10:00 mile!  Miles eight, ten, and eleven were my weakest, but the were in the 10:00 range.

Midsouth Championship swag

Midsouth Championship swag

Swag: B+: All participants got a long-sleeved t-shirt that was very soft, some coupons, a shaving cream sample, and a medal that was a vast improvement over last year’s race according to a Google image search.  I was very happy with this year’s medal, a very colorful metal medal with some trees cut out of it.  From some of my conversations with race volunteers, they really hoped us runners could enjoy the trees changing colors along the course.  This was the inspiration behind their run.  There were aid stations at every mile with water and Gatorade, and on the way back, the stations also had bananas, orange slices, and pretzel sticks.  The post race meal was BBQ and ribs with all of the trimmings, but it was to be served at 11:00 am, and I did not want Susan and Beau to wait that long.  Too bad because it smelled outstanding.

Midsouth Championship Medal

Midsouth Championship Medal

Course: B+: It was on out and back course, starting by the high school, following some country roads, and finishing on the football field.  For University of Memphis fans, this was the football field that DeAngelo Williams played on in high school before breaking NCAA records at Memphis. The only downside was the cumulative mile along US 64 where we had to run on the should of the road as semis came down the highway.  This was a tight squeeze for runners going both ways, but no one had an issue with it to my knowledge.  And when we crossed the highway, there were cops directly traffic to help protect the runners.

Post race w/ my Beau

Post race w/ my Beau

Overall: A-: This was a well-organized event with some of the friendless volunteers that I have ever encountered.  The event was an insane value for $27 and well worth the trip over the river.  I would certainly be open to running this event again in the future.  This entire event reminded me of my rural West Tennessee hometown and that was a good thing.  Also, it does not hurt that this was my second fastest half marathon ever with an official finish time of 2:12:45!  So in the last thirteen days I have bested my previous best time by four plus minutes twice!  Is it the shoes?  This is a throw back to NBA Jam.

Rocking rash? This does not sound appetizing!

Rocking rash? This does not sound appetizing!

On the way home, we stopped at Tropical Smoothie Cafe for a quick bite to eat and a smoothie.  This trip only warrants a mention because of what was written on Susan’s smoothie.  She ordered a Rocking Raspberry, which was abbreviated to read Rocking Rash, or at least it looks like that to me!

True Blue 5K Recap

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This was the fourth consecutive year that I have run in this event, and this year was just as good as previous years.  The event always takes place on the first Friday in November, and is used as a fundraiser for the Young Alumni Committee of the University of Memphis.  Four years ago, this was my first ever run, and now I try to schedule it every year.  Kind of like an anniversary I suppose.

This year’s event was the first of three consecutive days of races for me, and I had intended on running it at an easy pace.  The problem is that I tend to be terrible at taking it easy during an event.  Throughout the event, I was trying to slow down, but I still ended up running the event in 29:01, which is still one of my faster 5K times to date. But, I do not empty the tank and flat at sprint at any point, so maybe I did not expend too much effort.

This was me run/walking towards my 1st 5K at the True Blue 2010

This was me run/walking towards my 1st 5K at the True Blue 2010

The attendance for the race this year was down considerably from 2012.  It was the home opener for the Grizzles, so maybe that was a reason.  Also, I’m sure having a 7pm start on a Friday night also costs the event a few runners, but I hope they never change that aspect.  There are so few races in that time slot here that it helps this race stand out and in early November, this time slot helps lead to some PR’s.  I have personally PR’d the course twice, and might have again this year if I would have been going 100% for the entire race.  The race has great, long-sleeved shirts, and you see them all over town, a fact that the organizers are very proud of.  However, the shirts do not really change from year to year, so repeat runners have multiples of the same shirt in their closets.  This was combated by changing the race shirt color year to year.  My first year it was blue, second black, and third dark grey.  This year they went back to black, so I have two shirts that are basically the exact same.  I was kind of hoping for a repeat in blue, if they were going to repeat, since it is my most worn out of the three shirts.  Oh well, I wore the new shirt last night.

True Blue Swag

True Blue Swag w/ my old shirt thrown in to show the front and back of the shirt.

Swag: A: Great shirt that gets quite a bit of use from this runner, a Nike backpack, several coupons, and a great spread after the race.  These are consistent every year and have spoiled me for other 5K races.

Course: A+: I love that it runs around campus, including my old fraternity house.  For alumni returning to campus, it is a nice way to see what has changed since graduation.  It also is not too hilly of a course and is plenty wide to accommodate runners.  Runners finish in a giant inflatable tiger head on the Alumni Mall.

Overall: A+: I will always be partial to this race due to its significance in my weight loss and running.  It is always organized well and provides good value for the runner.  It I ever moved away, it would be a 5K that actually tempted me to visit specifically for.

Sunshine Award

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So I wrote this post two months ago and forgot to post it.  I guess posting it a little late won’t hurt, right?

First, let me thank Kathy over at RUNin’ My Life for nominating me for this award.  It came completely as a surprise and was an honor to receive, even if I am not sure that I deserve it.  How this works is that Kathy nominated 10 bloggers for this award and then asked each of us to answer t0 questions.  After answering the questions, we are to nominate 10 people of our own, and ask them 10 questions.  You link back to the original poster’s blog, as well as your 10 nominees.  It encourages you to share some blogs that you love reading that others may not have discovered.  So, first, let’s answer Kathy’s 10 questions about me!

Sunshine Award

Sunshine Award

1) Cat person or dog person? Dog person all the way!  We have a miniature labradoodle that is almost two years old.  I am actually allergic to dogs, so this is one of the most hypoallergenic breeds out there.

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This was after helping me do some yard work

2) Favorite guilty pleasure song?  If you ask Susan, it would be Elvira by the Oak Ridge Boys.

3) What was the best day of your life?  Easy answer here, my wedding day last October!

4) Favorite childhood memory?  It would probably be in 1992 when all I wanted was a White Christmas and it actually happened!  Growing up in West Tennessee, we did not get much snow, and this still remains the only White Christmas that I have ever experienced.

My twin brother, my nephew, & me, the kid with some hat issues

My twin brother, my nephew, & me, the kid with some hat issues

5) What is your favorite race distance? 13.1.  It was a nice goal to strive towards a couple of years ago and it is an attainable distance through hard work and dedication.  Every time I complete one, the overwhelming sense of accomplishment brings me back for another one.

6) Are you a road warrior, trail adventurer or treadmill enthusiast? Road warrior for sure.  It is just the most readily available resource in my area.  I do some trail running, but with my work and school schedule, it is hard to find time to travel to the trails to run.

I immediately thought of this when I read question 6! The Road Warriors from the WWF (now WWE)

I immediately thought of this when I read question 6! The Road Warriors from the WWF (now WWE)

7) What is your favorite cause or charity? St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital here in Memphis, TN.  A good portion of my runs have been for St. Jude, including my first two half marathons.  I am again running the St. Jude Half Marathon in December as a St. Jude Hero and I will also be running my next Warrior Dash as a St. Jude Warrior.  I also hosted a successful virtual fundraising race, the Platinum Sombrero 5K, for St. Jude over the summer.

Taken from the St Jude website

Taken from the St Jude website

8) What one word would your best friend use to describe you? Insane.

9) What is your favorite thing about running?  It is a hobby that I can continually get better at while still feeling accomplished and controlling my weight.

10) What do you hate about running?  Honestly, the cost.  It is definitely an expensive hobby with the shoes, gear, races, and such that I buy.  But I still pay my hard earned cash to do it and will do so as long as I am physically capable.

Narrowing down a list of 10 nominees was hard, so I used activity on my blog posts as a way to dwindle the list down.  The following are my 10 nominees:

Striding Towards Life

Chocolate Covered Medals 

Pittsburgh Runner

278 to Boston

Live, Run, Grow

Kelsie Lou’s Blog

The Race Before Us

Pink Elephant on Parade

Running For Boston

Miles For Thoughts

Congrats to each of you!

If you’d like to participate, here’s what you need to do:
1. Post the award logo in a post.
2. Link back to the person that nominated you.
3. Answer my ten questions on your blog post.
4. Nominate ten blogger friends, let them know, and post links to them.

Here are the 10 questions.

1. What is the most important piece of advice for new runners?

2. What is your favorite song to run to?

3. Have you ever been injured while running?  If so, how did you overcome it?

4. What do you do besides run to stay in shape?

5. What do you watch on TV?

6. Have you ever done a destination race?  If so, where?

7. What is your one piece of must have gear for a run?

8. What would cause you to quit running?

9. What has been your favorite race?

10. What has been your least favorite race?