St. Jude Running News

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I just read a blog post over at The Smith Summary about some exciting news for my fellow St. Jude runners.

Photo produced by Competitor Group

Photo produced by Competitor Group

Starting in 2014, the 2014 St. Jude country Music Marathon and Half Marathon and the 2014 St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend are teaming up to offer some extra bling for runners.  Runners that register as a St. Jude Hero for both events, and raise at least $100 for each event, will qualify for the extra medal.  All participants that earn the medal will receive it at the December Memphis event.  It is called the Music Highway Challenge, and it is a fantastic idea!  In fact, it is something that I suggested on the Facebook wall for the Rock ‘N Roll Series.  This idea is much better than mine since it involves fundraising for St. Jude, but I am happy that someone in a spot of influence had a similar idea.

Proof that I can have a good idea every now and then!

Proof that I can have a good idea every now and then!

I think that this is going to be a huge success for two very popular races.  Now, I need to get to raising some more funds for the kids of St. Jude!

Big runDisney News! The Avengers Race Weekend Coming to Disneyland!

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This morning runDisney made a huge announcement of a new race at Disneyland.  Speculation had been rampant for months that Disney would be adding an Avengers or Star Wars themed race to the rapidly growing schedule of runDisney events.  The Avengers rumor had always been attached to Disneyland since there is a character agreement issue with Disney World and another theme park that has the contractual rights to using Marvel characters.

Big runDisney news. Smash the Half

Big runDisney news. Smash the Half

At 10:35 AM CST, runDisney announced that the rumors about an Avengers race were true, but the rumored date was incorrect.  Most people speculated that the new race would be during the old Tinker Bell Race Weekend slot in January, starting in 2015.  This morning, however, Disney announced that The Avengers Half Marathon and Super Heroes 5K will be held November 15 and 16, 2014!  This is huge news, that I want to be more excited about.  The idea of the race itself is amazing, and I really want to do it, but there is no way possible that I can participate in the race this year.  If I could transfer my Dumbo Double Dare registration to this event and pocket the difference I certainly would!  Susan even told me to wait on the Disneyland Half, but due to the quickness that the event sells out and that I assumed that the event would be in 2015, I registered for Dumbo.  Whoops!  You know what happens when you assume, I suppose!  I will still enjoy myself at the Disneyland Half and live vicariously through other runners during the November weekend.

Anyway, you can get more info here.  Registration opens on March 25, and it will probably sell out quickly.

Rookie Running Mistake

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Today I made a rookie mistake on my run.  I went for my long run for the week this afternoon, and decided to try it without properly fueling.  I had a big breakfast and was not very hungry, so I did not eat lunch.  I washed both our cars, bought some groceries, and decided to run my eleven miles while it was still daylight.  I honestly did not think anything about fueling and just headed out.  I was a little sore from raking leaves yesterday, so I thought that I was not going to have my best runner ever.  Also, I drank a little bit last night, so I was not optimally hydrated.  Early in my run, I felt good, even if I was slow.  I had some Sports Beans around mile five, and drank water as I felt I needed some.  Around mile nine and a half, I all of my extremities started tingling and I did not feel right.  I decided not to push it so I started to walk.  I had nothing left in the tank and I had no clue what was happening.  Once I made it back to the house, I grabbed a quick bite, and started to feel better immediately.  Let’s just say Susan was not happy that I ran eleven miles without eating anything for roughly six hours.  This was a rookie mistake, and just a reminder to pay a little closer attention to what I am doing out there.

Says it all, really

Homer says it all, really

On a brighter note, this was an amazing weekend and I was able to get quite a bit accomplished around the house.  We have pine trees around our house, and this is such a pain to deal with.  They drop pine needles and branches all year-long and they constantly need to be raked up.  I had not raked any of these needles in a couple of months, so I had a rather large task on my hands.  I ended up having twenty-three thirty-nine gallon bags of pine needles when I finished raking on Saturday.  I was shocked to see grass in my backyard!

Reminds me of Snuffleupagus

Reminds me of Snuffleupagus

This looks much better

This looks much better

After my yard work, I decided to relax, so I sat outside in the sunny, sixty-five degree weather and read a book for a little bit.  It has been so cold and dreary here this winter, so it was great to be able to relax outside. And of course getting to grill a steak on the grill without freezing to death was an added bonus as well.

Now, it is time to watch The Walking Dead and True Detective.

Special Ops Spartan Sprint Tampa Race Recap

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Over the weekend I traveled to Tampa, FL for the Special Ops Spartan Sprint, which was held at Raymond James Stadium.  This was my first Spartan Race and second ever obstacle/mud run.  And it was definitely tougher than the Warrior Dash I ran last spring in Jackson, MS.  My arms are still sore today and this race was certainly a reminder that I need to focus more on my cross training.  I was able to complete the vast majority of the obstacles, but they were not easy.  And for the obstacles that I failed to complete, I did my requisite 30 burpee penalty.  From my view, I was about the only person that did this.  Several people would do 5-10 burpees and then go on to the next obstacle.  Some people seemed to be upset by this, but it honestly did not change to fact that I did what I needed to do to complete the course, and that is the point for me.  However, I do feel that Spartan Race should enforce and monitor this penalty a little bit better at future events.  This was the only area that lacked in an otherwise well-organized, top-notch event.

This was after I finished the event and I had a chance to clean up a bit.

This was after I finished the event and I had a chance to clean up a bit.

Course: A: Fun and very challenging course.  This was the first Spartan Race that incorporated the stadium and usual obstacles in one.  In total, there were 18 obstacles, not to mention the stadium stairs I had to run as a portion of the course.  We ran from the ground level up the six levels to the top of the concourse and down twice.  We also had to climb a five foot wall to get into the starting corral and hopped stair rails while running through the seating areas.  I am listing the obstacles mostly in order as we encountered them on race day, along with a quick blurb about them.  I did not wear my GoPro nor did I have a cell phone for pictures.

Crawling under a large cargo net.  Easy.  No one really had to crawl since every participant held the net up for each other.

Get L-O-W.  Easy.  This was crawling under a couple of walls.  This was an easy obstacle, but it cut my knees up a little bit.

Over-Under-Through. Easy. Participants has to go over a small wall, under one, and through a hole in one.

Hobie Hop. Slightly Moderate. Participants were required us to put straps around our ankles and hopped up and down two flights of stairs.  Surprisingly, no one fell while I was in this area.

Traverse Wall. Hard.  You horizontally scale a wall using small hand and foot holds. This was much tougher than I expected.  I fell a few times and got trapped behind someone going ultra slow.  I ended up doing 30 burpees for this obstacle.

Six Foot Wall.  Easy.  Climb a six-foot wall.

Before going to the next obstacle, we had an option of burpees or running to the top of the concourse.  I chose the running option so I am not sure how people got to the top for the next obstacle.

Sandbag carry.  Easy.  Men and women had different sized sandbags to carry.  You grabbed a sandbag, climbed the stairs to the upper deck, maneuvered through the seats, then returned your sandbag.

Seven Foot Wall.  Moderate.  I could not scale this wall without a little assistance from a foot hold on the side.

Football Throw. Easy.  This was on the football field and sadly cost me 30 burpees.  We had one 10 yard throw of a foam football into a trash can.  I hit the rim of the can and went off to the burpee pit.

This is what crawling under 80 yards of barbed wire looks like.

This is what crawling under 80 yards of barbed wire looks like.

80 Yard Barbed Wire Crawl.  Moderate.  We basically crawled under barbed wire for the entire length of the football field.  This was by far the longest obstacle and low crawling for that long will take its toll on you.  The football turf was pulled up, so this crawl was through a sand and dirt mixture that stuck with you for the rest of the event.

Eight Foot Wall. Hard.  Jumping and grabbing the top of the wall, then pulling myself up and over was not going to happen without the assistance steps on the side.

Herculean Hoist. Hard.  There were different weights for male and female participants, and this marked the first event completely outside of the stadium corridor.  You used a rope and pulley to pull up a 50 pound bucket of concrete several feet and slowly drop it back to the ground.

Atlas Shrugged.  Hard. You carried a large, round rock 10 yards, did 10 burpees, and then returned the 10 yards with the stone.  There were different sized stones for male and female participants.  I struggled more than I care to admit with this obstacle.

Mud Hills.  Easy.  We went up the hill and down into a puddle and back up four times while being sprayed with a water hose.

Object Carry.  Easy.  We carried ammo boxes a short distance before moving on to the next obstacle.

Inverted Wall.  Hard.  You climbed a wall at a 45 degree angle from the backside.  I would not have been able to complete this obstacle if it were not for the motivation and spotting of the volunteers at this event.

Rope Climb.  Hard.  Climb a rope several feet, ring the bell, and return to the ground.  I failed horribly at this obstacle.  I had to do 30 more burpees for this.

Spear Throw. Moderate.  The act was not hard, but how often do you actually throw a spear?  My spear did not stay in the target, so I had to do 30 more burpees.

Slippery Wall.  Hard.  Climb a wall at a 45 degree angle that is covered in mud and other substances that made gaining traction a feat.  Two other competitors helped me climb the Slippery Wall.  It took several attempts to complete this.  I would have quit and done my 30 burpees without them motivation of one of my fellow participants, especially after falling on my face and sliding back into the mud pit.  I have several bruises from this obstacle alone.  But, I did complete the wall and was grateful for the help.  The entire crowd cheered when I was finally able to climb down the other side.

Fire Jump. Easy.  You jump over a fire.  This hopefully provided another great picture like Warrior Dash picture that I use everywhere.

Gladiator Arena.  Easy.  This was three Spartans hitting you with pugil sticks right before the finish line.

Both of the Spartan Race medals

Both of the Spartan Race medals

Swag: A-: All finishers received two medals (one for the event and one as a piece for the Trifecta), a t-shirt, and a headband to wear during the event for picture-taking purposes.  Video and photos of every race are provided for participants, so I will have a follow-up post as soon as I gain access to these items.  Bag check is $5, which seems like a bummer since most people  probably are checking a bag, but you receive a $5 coupon good towards something in the merchandise tent.  I used this for the $5 sticker pack.  The shirt was OK, the event specific shirt was much better and sold out before the 9:00 heat started.  Also, apparently there somehow was a shortage of medals for the event, so the later afternoon runners have to wait to have their medals mailed to them.

Spartan Race swag

Spartan Race swag

Overall: A: The event was every bit as challenging as promised and it was a huge accomplishment to finish the race. The organization was great and there never really was much of a bottleneck at any obstacle.  Start times were strictly enforced, and each facet of the race seemed to be planned out.  Another outstanding aspect of the race was that my heat at 9:00 am had several members of Operation Enduring Warrior, which was very cool.  Operation Enduring Warrior is a non-profit organization ran by veterans to help those wounded in service physically, mentally, or emotionally be rehabilitated.

A shot of the Operation Enduring Warriors approaching the finish line

A shot of the Operation Enduring Warriors approaching the finish line

I am still sore today and I have learned some definite areas I need to focus on before my next obstacle race.

Throwback Thursday: Revisiting a Rant

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I do not usually post Throwback Thursdays pictures or statuses on social media, but today a post of mine was received some traffic that sparked an interest in me to revisit the issue.  Last March, I wrote a post complaining about Memphis not getting any national obstacle races and having a shortage of distance races.  I guess someone listened because 2014 is a much more promising year for the Bluff City.  While not landing one of the big three obstacle course events (Tough Mudder, Spartan Race, or Warrior Dash), Foam Fest will be coming to town in May.  Of course, as of today, I am not registered for that event, so I may be a part of the problem, but at least it is a local option.  There are also two new half marathon/marathon events this season in Memphis, both of the trail variety.  One is at Shelby Forrest in two weeks and the other is at Stanky Creek during the first weekend of March.  Promotion has been slight for both events, but hopefully the organization has not been.  I will probably run the latter of the two events, provided that it does not sell out before I get a chance to register.  Also, the Navy Ten Nautical Miler has been reinstated for 2014, and of course, I still can not participate in it this year.  It is slated for Sunday, June 8, which is the day after my running of the Tough Mudder event in Nashville.  Whereas I could work both events into my calendar, I am very wary of running these events on back to back days in the June heat in Tennessee.  Battered and bruised from Tough Mudder and then fighting heat and humidity may not be the most fun I have ever had at a race.  Maybe my running of the Spartan Sprint this weekend will reduce some of this trepidation.

Memphis

Memphis

On a side note, of the national races that I mentioned on my prior post, one, Tap ‘N Run, came to Memphis in October 2013 (great premise that was spoiled by an unseasonably warm day), and two, Hero Rush and Run For Your Lives, are now defunct.  From what I read, the two race series that folded were popular, but had some financial issues that led to their demise.  You can surely Google each race and get the full story, or click here for my take on what happened with Run For Your Lives (Note: the new race is no longer coming to Memphis).

Getting Out of the Funk

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It is exactly one month since I completed my first marathon and I have been in somewhat of a funk since that date.  I am not sure if I am not mentally invested or if my body wants a break, but I have been off my usual demeanor.  I have had some lingering pain in my toe and the weather has been unseasonably cold here in Memphis.  All of this has led to some lackluster runs and a couple of extra pounds to hang around as well.  This is not an ideal situation heading into this weekend’s Spartan Special Ops Sprint.  It is only a 3-4 mile run, but with at least 15 obstacles and 30 burpee penalties for failure to complete, I could be in for a long day on Saturday.  And not to mention the 3 half marathons I will be running in over the next 2 months.

I am giving it my best try

I am giving it my best try

I did have a good run tonight and worked in some cross training intervals, so I am going to try to build upon this momentum moving forward.  Not to mention that the deep freeze is going to subside for a few days, so getting a rhythm back should be a little easier.

Anyway, enough with the pity party.  Here is what I know about this weekend’s event.  There is an 80 yard barbed wire crawl, the event will be hosted at Raymond James Stadium, I can earn two medals, and this will be the first stadium race in the Spartan Series that will incorporate mud and water obstacles outside of the stadium.  Everything else is a complete mystery.  I am certain that there will be a rope climb, spear throw, and plenty of stadium stairs waiting for me on Saturday.

I have some basketball to watch and homework to do, so I am cutting this post a little short.

2014 Race Updates

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The last couple of weeks have seen some adjustments to races on my 2014 schedule as well as one that I ran last year.

The before and after pic

The before and after pic

Warrior Dash Mississippi.  Sadly, this year I am no longer able to run in a Warrior Dash event.  Last year I had a blast at the event, but yesterday I received an email stating that the venue and date for this year’s event has changed.  The new date is April 26, which happens to be the same date of the Country Music Half Marathon in Nashville, so I had to forgo the Mississippi event.  I could have transferred my registration to another location, but the other nearby events are on weekends that also pose conflicts.  Therefore, no fuzzy warrior hat this year.  Oh well, I still have a Tough Mudder and Spartan Race coming.  And I guess I need to find a race for May.

Country Music Half Marathon.  I have never ran in this event, but tomorrow morning they are announcing their new route.  A few weeks ago, they announced that the start line will be moved downtown for the event.  It should be interesting to see how the new route is received.

Awesome finisher's medal

Awesome finisher’s medal

Tupelo Marathon and 14.2 Miler.  I am not running in this event this year due to it being held on the same day as the Disneyland Half Marathon, but I found it interesting that this event is also trying a new course.  The difference is that the new course for this event takes away one of the unique caveats that it offers.  The new course is in a different part of Tupelo which means that the 14.2 miler is being replaced with a normal half marathon distance.  The 14.2 distance was one of the features of this event that attracted me to this race, so I am happy that I was able to run it at least once before this change.  I am certain that the race medals will be as impressive as ever.