It’s Braves Opening Day!

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Back to my regularly scheduled running blog later, but today is Opening Day in baseball and that takes top priority.  As you can probably tell from my random posts, I am an avid fan of the Atlanta Braves.  This has left me disappointed most seasons, especially in the playoffs, but they are still my team.  And on the first day of the year, everyone is in first place!  Unless you are in the NL West where the Dodgers have already played three games.

Hoping for a successful year!

Hoping for a successful year!

The spring was a roller coaster for the Braves this year.  It started with Braves fans despondent because the team made no off-season moves of note while losing Tim Hudson and Brian McCann to free agency.  But then, during the first couple of weeks of spring training, the Braves started locking up much of their young core of players to long-term deals, which has been unheard of in the past few years, and things began to look up!  Then Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy hurt their arms, needing their second Tommy John surgery, which does not have a good track record for a return to success.  The Braves have the dubious honor of leading the majors in Tommy John surgeries and they added three more (two for sure) to that total this spring.  That is why the Braves opening day rotation is not quite what us fans had expected.  Well, that and another pitcher having his urethra operated on in the off-season.  So the Aaron Harang era is about to begin in Atlanta!  These injuries also led the Braves to sign the best available free agent pitcher, Ervin Santana, blowing up the projected budget in the process. Of course, blowing up the budget is different for Atlanta than say the Yankees, because at the projected Opening Day budget around $111 million, the Braves are still ranked 14th in baseball in payroll.

Not a chart you want to be leading

Not a chart you want to be leading

But today is Opening Day, a day for optimism and excitement.  We finally get to see our favorite teams on the field again and at least for one day, they all have a chance to make it special.  162 games is a long time, and many things can and will happen.  Last year, the Braves were given zero chance of winning the division and by the end of April, they had already buried the rest of the division, so it can happen.  If the young core of Heyward, Freeman, Kimbrel, Teheran, Simmons, and Justin Upton continue their growth, a long with Gattis replacing McCann and Uggla and BJ Upton remember how to play baseball, even at a replacement level, this year still can be special.

Julio Teheran is the 2014 Opening Day starter for your Atlanta Braves

Julio Teheran is the 2014 Opening Day starter for your Atlanta Braves

I spent more time yesterday watching Braves highlights from years past than I care to admit.  I watched Brooks Conrad’s walk off grand slam from 2010, both of Chipper’s walk off home runs against the Phillies in 2012, Bream’s slide in the 1992 NLCS, David Justice’s solo shot in Game 6 of the 1995 World Series to give the Braves their only World Series championship in Atlanta.  In fact, while watching Justice’s home run, I noticed the one and only Bill F’n Murray in the stands with Ted Turner.  Murray is a Chicago guy and I believe a Cubs fan, but it was still cool seeing him there when then only celebrity I remember from the 1990’s Braves was Jeff Foxworthy.

Turner and Murray, 1995 World Series (photo from Sports Illustrated)

Turner and Murray, 1995 World Series (photo from Sports Illustrated)

So I think that the Braves should bring back Murray to throw out the first pitch of a game and maybe channel some Groundhog Day (yes, I went there, and yes, I am sorry) magic into the organization because October 28, 1995, would be a mighty fine day to relive.  Well, expect for one minor detail.  This is the only Braves post season game that I have missed in my entire life!  Yep, the biggest game in Atlanta Braves history and I missed it because my parents made me go to a Tim McGraw concert!  This was before the age of smartphones and I sat there, in my Chipper Jones jersey, nervously waiting for score updates anywhere that I could get them.  I was even interviewed by a local radio station that was doing a remote from the concert.  They could not believe that I was there instead of watching the game.  But I was 13, and did not have much say in the matter.  This night will haunt me for the rest of my life!  And of course, there is no Tim McGraw song presently on my iPhone.

Pic from MLB's Facebook page (2013)

Pic from MLB’s Facebook page (2013)

Sadly, I am at work today, so I cannot watch the game, but I will be following along on my phone and hopefully my 1 o’clock clients will leave quickly so I can return to my office and listen to the game.  Despite the injuries, I still have high hopes for this season.  I still feel that the Braves will win over 90 games and make the playoffs.  Maybe a year full of doubters and pundits claiming that the Dodgers, Cardinals, Yankees, Nationals, Giants, Red Sox, and Tigers are obviously better teams will help the Braves come out of no where (as much as a defending division winner can) like the Red Sox did last year.  Who knows, but it is baseball season once again, and that is always a good thing.

Race For Recovery 5K Recap

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Today was the Race for Recovery 5K at Overton Park here in Memphis and it was my first of two 5K’s for the day.  The event was hosted by the Shelby County Drug Court Foundation.  The weatherman missed the mark a little bit for this one.  As of yesterday afternoon, the forecast called for 66 degrees and sunshine.  It actuality, it was 45 degrees, overcast, and windy.  It also followed a record-setting amount of rainfall, so it was not exactly the picture perfect day for a race.  You gotta love the March weather in Memphis!

raceforrecovery2014flyerThis was the first running of the event and all of the proceeds went directly to the Shelby County Drug Court.  The vast majority of the participants had some sort of connection to the drug court, whether it be employees, clients, providers, attorneys, or family members.  And considering the fact of the limited participant pool, I think that the race was a big success with 225 people running or walking today.

Course: The course was two loops on the paved running track in Overton Park.  It was an easy course to follow for the limited number of runners.  The only problem with the course is that since the course was two loops, several people just completed one loop, including several of the drug court clients.  It was not a huge deal except for the 17-25 female age group.  All three of the award winners in that group walked one loop and quit.  But since there were not many participants in this group, they still placed.  And unfortunately, they did not admit to it.  Honesty is a major component of the program and it is disheartening that they did not feel that it applied to this situation.

Race for Recovery Swag

Race for Recovery Swag

Swag: All runners received a t-shirt, tote bag, and coupons for local businesses.  A 5K with anything other than a white shirt is a plus.  Apples, coffee, bottle of water, and granola bars were available after the race.

I ran at my usual 5K pace and felt great after the race.  I was the 16th person to cross the finish line and was finally warm when I did finish.  I think that there was plenty that the race director learned from this year’s event and I hope that drug court hosts the event again next year.  And maybe then one of the local running shops will support the race like they pledged to do this year.

 

The Time I Saw Someone Get Shot

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It has been a busy couple of weeks for me, but I wanted to share what Susan, I, and a couple of friends witnessed last Friday night.  I should preface this post with the some background information about my history.  I tend to witness and attract some craziness in my life.  In college I came across a person passed out drunk in their car on the train tracks.  I had to punch the guy in the face to wake them up and move their car before a train came.  I have witnessed a bus boy and waiter get into a fist fight in the middle of dinner rush at a restaurant.  I have seen a security guard at Target chase down a shoplifter, jump in the back of their truck, through the DVD player out of the back of the truck, shattering in the process, and the driver speed off with the security guard still in the back of the truck.  Once at IHOP our waiter told us that at one point in his life that he has had sex with a dog.  Like I said, I have heard and seen some weird things.  That being said, this event ranks right up there.

Susan, two of our friends, and I went to Nashville last Friday night for the George Strait concert.  It was George’s last in Nashville and we had free tickets, so it was an easy choice to go.  Before the concert, we went Rotier’s in West End near Vanderbilt for dinner.  Rotier’s is a famous eatery in Nashville and we wanted to try their famous French bread burger.  About halfway through dinner, a couple of cops that were also enjoying dinner in the restaurant jumped up and headed out the door, apologizing to the owner.  This caught my attention, so I wondered what was going on.  A few moments later, we hear sirens everywhere, with the cars converging in the parking lot across the street.  The  we hear it. Pop! Pop! Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop!  I am standing up, trying to go outside to get a closer looks.  Susan is pulling me down onto the booth.  Candace is asking if it is fireworks.  The waitress is telling us that the glass in the restaurant is bullet proof.  People are dropping to the floor, more cops are pulling up, and we all have questions.

Police cars everywhere

Police cars everywhere

Five cops had shot and killed a man outside a business across the street.  The man was obviously dead, and a crowd was beginning to gather.  There was glass everywhere, and police tape restricting several people from accessing their vehicles.

Police cars were everywhere

Police cars were everywhere

At first the speculation was that this was a robbery attempt gone awry, and that is what we thought for most of the night.  After the concert, we checked the local news and got some information.  The victim was Aaron Dino Smith, Jr., a 51-year-old Franklin man on parole with a lengthy criminal history.  Mr. Smith was a suspect in a robbery from March 13 in Smyrna.  Credit cards from that theft were used at a business in Nashville earlier in the day, and a detective went to the business to investigate.  Mr. Smith arrived and was confronted my the detective, which ultimately led to Mr. Smith pulling a gun on the officer.  At this point, the detective let the suspect flee on foot and it was then that Mr. Smith carjacked a lady in a Buick Enclave (same car as Susan).  A high-speed chase ensued through rush hour traffic.  Nashville PD decided to pull back due to safety concerns and just followed the car with their helicopter and by tracking the car owner’s cell phone.  Mr. Smith made his way to West End, ditching the car in a parking garage across the street from us.  Metro Police converged on Mr. Smith while he tried to enter a business.  Mr. Smith aimed his gun first at his head and then at the officers.  It was at that point that the officers opened fire and deprived this world of Mr. Smith’s presence any further.

This was the scene right after the officers fired

This was the scene right after the officers fired

We live in Memphis, which has one of the worst crime rates in the country.  I have lived here for fourteen years and never witnessed a shooting this close before.  Go figure that a one night trip out-of-town to a “nice area of town” in a city not associated with quite the criminal stigma that Memphis is would be the situation in which I witnessed an event like this.

Country Music Marathon Updates

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This morning the St. Jude Country Music Marathon and Half Marathon released the medals for the event on April 26.  This was the last piece of information to be released by the event since the shirt was released last month as well as the concert and new downtown starting line.  So, for those who are running in the event, or want to, here is all of the released information.

Brooks Tech Shirt

Brooks Tech Shirt

Several people seem to be upset that it is gray, but I do not mind it too much.

CMM ConcertIn past years, the post race has had bigger acts than these three, but people on the Facebook page seem to be excited about the concert.  I am not, but it is free.

Definitely a Nashville feel to these

Definitely a Nashville feel to these

The difference between the marathon and half marathon is a color variation.  These medals reflect Nashville very well.

 

Germantown Half Marathon 2014 Recap

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The 2014 Germantown Half Marathon was not my best half marathon, in fact, it was my slowest one to date, but it beats missing the race like last year.  It was a cool and rainy morning, as I was expecting.  This was my first half marathon in the rain, and there were a couple of challenges.  And all of the challenges were related to friction created from the extra water-soaked into my shoes and running gear.  It made for quite an uncomfortable run.

Very nice looking medal

Very nice looking medal

This year’s race had an updated logo, which I personally think is fantastic.  This is a vast improvement over the last few years and ended up being one of my favorite medals.  At the expo on Saturday, I noticed the new logo on the shirt and bib, and I was excited to think that the medal would also incorporate the same logo.  And luckily this was the case.  The expo was not the biggest in the world, but it was easy to get in and out.  There were a few vendors of upcoming races there, like the Navy Ten Nautical Miler and Ragnar Series.  There was also a couple of vendors selling running gear, but I did not browse their selections.

Sunday was one of those days when I was not at my best.  I do not know if it was the rain or the altered training schedule post WDW marathon, but I finished this race in my slowest half marathon time thus far.  But, as Susan pointed out, not every race can be a PR, and that is certainly true.  I finished the race and I feel good today.  I have no injuries, but I have several tender areas from my soaked clothing and shoes.  Even though I finished in a lackluster time, I can definitely see how people PR this course.  Maybe that will be in my future for next year.

The updated logo was a fantastic choice.

The updated logo was a fantastic choice.

Swag: B+: Tech shirts are always a welcomed sight and the medal is top-notch.  There were no other extras with this race.  I wanted to rate it higher since I liked the new logo so much, but the post run spread bumped this down.  Post race there was soup, bananas and cookies.

My sister-in-law sent me this picture this morning. I do not know who these people are, but I assume that she does.

My sister-in-law sent me this picture this morning. I do not know who these people are, but I assume that she does.

Course: B+: Last year, I rated the course as a B, but after completing it, I decided to take it up a notch.  The first 3.5 miles are practically all up hill, but this is not a monstrous climb.   After that, the course is rolling, and is ran primarily through residential areas of Germantown.  The course also incorporates the local high school (where beer was handed out) and a park.  Water stations were plentiful and GU was available at four of the water stations.  Also, there was great crowd support along the race route, including someone dressed like a hot dog and one as a lemon.  Susan, her father, and her sister were also along the course to cheer me along in the drizzle.

Overall: B+: This is an enjoyable race and easy to work into my schedule.  The race grows from year to year, and has the logistics worked out rather nicely.  This is a race that any one in the Memphis area should try to work into their schedule at least once.

 

Five For Friday

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It has been a busy week here in Memphis for me.  From work and some improvements on the homestead, I have a few subjects to share with y’all.  And instead of dedicating a post to each, I am just going to encompass them all here.

1. St. Jude sent me a thank you for being a St. Jude Hero.  I am not sure if this was a thank you for the canceled St. Jude Marathon Weekend last December or the upcoming Country Music Half Marathon, but it was a nice surprise.  St. Jude sent out a pair of Yurbuds Signature Series Earphones and a Frogg Togg.  So, thank you St. Jude!

Thank you St. Jude!

Thank you St. Jude!

2. I wanted to share a couple of photos from our newly painted living room.  Here are some before and after pictures of our progress.

Before 1

Before 1

After 1

After 1 (with our model Beau)

Before 2

Before 2

After 2

After 2 (with a Beau photobomb) 

3. And my personal favorite addition to the new living room, my new Nest Thermostat.  It was not exactly needed, but it is really freaking cool.  My thermostat is now actually connected to my WiFi and I can adjust my house temperature from my iPhone here at the office.  The thermostat learns our heating and cooling habits, and adjusts accordingly.  I also get monthly reports on my energy efficiency and how I compare to others in my area with a Nest.

I have some work to do to where the former thermostat was, but I love my Nest.

I have some work to do to where the former thermostat was, but I love my Nest.

4. This weekend is the Germantown Half Marathon and I cannot wait for Sunday morning to get here.  I am very interested to see how running this event will actually be healthy. Of course, according to the weather report, it looks like it is going to be a wet race.  Current projections so 100% chance of precipitation at the race start time.  If this holds true, this will be the first race above a 5K in which I have encountered rain.  There is a first time for everything I suppose.

5. Thanks to the lackluster effort by the Memphis Tigers last night against UConn in the American Conference Tournament, this entire town is on suicide watch today.  A 72-53 loss on your home court against a team that you already lost tow twice this not easy to swallow, especially when on paper, you are evenly matched with the victorious team.  I think Giffey just hit another wide open three!

Memphis will be seeing this in their nightmares

Memphis will be seeing this in their nightmares

Sports talk this morning in Memphis has not been fun.

 

Motivation Monday

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It has been a long time since I posted a Motivation Monday post, but I came across this picture earlier and thought it was a great reminder with something I struggle with.  I, for one, get consumed with how many times a week I run and where my weight is at on a daily basis.  This obsession sometimes causes me to neglect my actual progress.  This is also quite appropriate for my post marathon funk that lasted for a month or so.

Just get out there

Just get out there

I have my next half marathon (Germantown Half Marathon) on this Sunday morning, so getting in the proper frame of mind will be crucial, especially since I missed my training run yesterday due to some work obligations, a sick wife, and remodeling at the house.  But, since the weather is great again today and I gained an hour from Daylight Savings Time, I will be able to log some miles after work.