West Tennessee Warrior Run Recap

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Saturday was the West Tennessee Warrior Run in small town Gadsden, TN.  An acquaintance turned my onto this race, and since it was within driving distance for me, I decided what the hell. This was my tenth half marathon and fifth thus far in 2014 (since March 16 actually).  It leveled me up in the Half Fanatics and I earned every bit of the milestone with the heat and hills.

As seen on the course...new and used cows

As seen on the course…new and used cows

The race started at 8 am, which is a tad late for May in the south.  The first hour of the race was comfortable, but then the clouds dissipated and the heat set in.  And my running splits reflected this heat wave.  Miles 1-7 were very consistent and strong. I was not on pace for a PR, but it was going to be a solid race.  But then I succumbed to the heat and my pace fell way off.  Mile 12 was absolutely brutal and by the end, I crossed the finish line with a personal worst time.  But I finished, and now I am in double digits for half marathons completed.

West Tennessee Warrior Run Swag

West Tennessee Warrior Run Swag

This was by far the smallest race that I have participated in with only 46 runners.  This was the first year for this event, with the proceeds going to the Crockett County Christmas Store which provides Christmas presents for underprivileged area children.  It is a great cause, and even though this was a rough race with generic swag, I was happy to run and support this cause.  Consider this a training run for a cause.

West Tennessee Warrior Run Medal

West Tennessee Warrior Run Medal

Every medal you get cannot be the best you have ever gotten.  I am running in two half marathons later this year in which I will not even get a medal.  However, the theme of the race could have produced a great medal, especially with the race falling on Memorial Day Weekend.  Oh well.

Running of the Rams 5K Recap and PR

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Friday night I ran in the inaugural Running of the Rams 5K in Bartlett, TN.  The event was a fundraiser for the technology fee of Oak Elementary School in Bartlett.  Basically runners were helping the school buy computers for their students.  The race was for a good cause, and I am working on a 5K for a similar reason for my wife’s school, so I was building some good relations and karma at the same time.

The race had 672 early registrants and 466 finishers, which is a great turnout for a first time event on the Friday night of BBQ Fest.  The event as a whole cut costs wherever possible, opting for no chip timing and the free Road ID bibs rather than custom ones. The t-shirt design was very good and there were several local sponsors, so I am certain that the race netted the school the 40 computers that they were aiming for.

3rd Place Male 30-34 Medal!

3rd Place Male 30-34 Medal!

This race was a triumph for me since it is now my PR for a 5K race with an unofficial time of 27:07 and I actually placed third in my age group!  This is the first time that I have had my name called at an event, and even though I know that it is the product of being close to the front of the pack, not a large group of runners in my age group, and the lack of chip timing, I will still take it!  It felt good to have a PR after a spring of very slow running, and having my name called at an event is rewarding.

Course: B+: City streets starting and ending at the school.  The roads were still open to the traffic, so staying in the marked off lanes was imperative.  There were two hills on the course, and a decent amount of spectators.  The start line was a cluster, and the pre-race announcements were inaudible.

Running of the Rams shirt, bib, and award medal

Running of the Rams shirt, bib, and award medal

Swag: B-: I like the shirt, and the bonus of getting a medal for placing in my age group.  The food option after the race were great, and definitely had a huge appeal to the children running in the event (corn dogs and chicken nuggets).

Overall: B: This was a first time event, and prior to the start of the race, it felt like it.  There were no problems on the course, and everyone was very friendly. Getting official times for the awards ceremony seemed to be tedious, and took 30 minutes longer than advertised.  I imagine that the race organizers will consider this event a success, and will be at it again next spring.

What It Is Like to be a Fat Runner

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So this site leaves little doubt about my physical stature.  I am a fat guy.  Or, at the very least, a recovering fat guy.  I have lost a considerable amount of weight, 116 pounds at my pinnacle.  I am physically nowhere near what I was as recently as 2010, and for that, I am very thankful.  It was not an easy journey to get here, both with my initial weight-loss and trying to maintain a healthy weight since.  Never once in my adult life have I been at my recommended weight, and maybe I never will be.  I am fine with that as long as the rest of my health  measurables as well as my physical activity are at the optimum levels.  My blood pressure, cholesterol, and the such are much more important to me than the number on the scale.  I know others do not agree with this approach, but seeing where I was a few years ago, I think that it is tremendous progress from a guy in college that would routinely eat his recommended daily caloric intake in each meal!

Lap Those on the Couch

This blog was started after the bulk of my weight-loss occurred and actually, I have gained a few pounds since I started blogging.  However, this blog was began to not only give some insight into my running and weight management journey, but to also give some advice on my experiences running large.  I have not given much insight into this field as of yet, but today will be a big one.  This post will share what to expect on race day when you are not the prototypical runner.

True Story

True Story

People are going to look at you funny.  Do not get too caught up in this.  You do look different from others out there, but you are running the same miles as everyone else.  Enjoy it.

Don’t take offense to what people say to you.  Often at races, after staring at me for a few moments, people will approach me to talk about why I am running.  I have heard a variety of things, both to my face and seemingly out of my earshot (little do people know that my hearing is great and I observe quite a bit around me).  The following are some of the most common things that have been said to/about me at a race:

“More people like you should run.” – The sentiment is in the right place, but it can come across the wrong way

“You’re running? Really?” – Yep, I’m fat, and I will be running this race.  It is incredible, isn’t it?

“Is this your first race?” – If you are fat, obviously this is your first race because if you have ever ran a race before, you would not be fat anymore.

“You finished how fast?” – I love this one.  This often is people who assume that I am going to lumber in front of the sweepers for the entire race.

Do not worry about what people say.  The vast majority of them have the best of intentions when they talk to you.  They may come across the wrong way, but they are not meaning to.  Just smile, thank them, and run the best race that you can.

If the race is giving away a tech shirt, chances are that they are going to be an athletic cut.  Some company’s have fuller cut versions of tech shirts, like Nike and Under Armour.  Others run a little tight.  I wear an XL in the vast majority of my shirts, but for certain races, especially the St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon, I need to order a XXL.  So when registering for a race, just be mindful that the shirt might not be a fuller cut.

Make sure to stay fueled/hydrated.  This is great advice for anyone running a race, however, when there is a little more meat on the bones, we think that our excess weight will fuel us along.  Fueling, regardless of the fuel, is vital to performance.  Do not try avoid fueling at a race to save some time unless you routinely run the distance at race intensity without fuel while training.  Do what you do on a training run during the race.

High fiving Mickey at the finish line - this is such a great feeling

High fiving Mickey at the finish line – this is such a great feeling

Finish.  This is why you are at the race in the first place, some complete the damn thing!  It doesn’t matter if it takes you 30 minutes or 4 hours, finish.  The sense of accomplishment and pride that you will get will circumvent any discomfort you might be feeling during the race.  The number of people who hate life while running a race that almost immediately register for another one after crossing the finish line is staggering.  This will likely be the same for you.

Every. Single. Time.

Every. Single. Time.

Your finishing time may be humbling…to you and others.  You will be surprised what a surge of adrenaline can do for you during a race.  You run one way during a training run, but when surrounded by several other runners and the prospect of finishing can boost your time quite a bit.

Slow still counts!

Slow still counts!

For others, they often see you and think “I can beat that guy.”  Often, they are right.  But you cannot judge a book by its cover.  In my first half marathon in 2011 I completed the course 15 minutes faster than my next closest friend, who happens to be the epitome of physical fitness.  I crushed his time.  It happens, so when it does, enjoy it.  A second example of this happened the same year for me at a 5K.  There was another runner there that I had some mutual friends with, but we never were that close.  We both set PR’s that day, but I happened to be about 30 seconds faster.  He asked what my time was, I told him, and his reaction simply was “Oh…” and then he walked away.  It happens.  Just congratulate others on their race, embrace yours, and go on.  There is no need for negativity.  Like I said earlier, you all ran the same miles.

You are a runner, embrace it and do not feel ashamed about it.  Wear your race shirt out, leave your medal on as long as you like, tell people about your experience.  You have earned it!

Congratulations on your accomplishment and I hope to see your out there one day!

Aiming For Road Warrior

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Every year here in Memphis the Memphis Runners Track Club (our local running club that I recently joined) hosts a Road Race Series.  The series starts in July and ends in November.  The event consists of two each of the 5K, 5 Miler, 10K, 10 Miler, and Half Marathon race distances.  It is a good way to fill up the calendar with races, run in some areas of town I normally do not, and will save me some green since I am getting ten races for $65 with my MRTC discount.

I immediately think of this anytime I hear Road Warrior! The Road Warriors from the WWF (now WWE)

I immediately think of this anytime I hear Road Warrior! The Road Warriors from the WWF (now WWE)

To complete the series you have to complete at least one of each of the race distances.  Anyone that completes all ten races will achieve Road Warrior status.  I am aiming for Road Warrior status.  Last year I had conflicts on a couple of the race dates, and therefore did not register for the series because Road Warrior was not attainable.  Why attempt it if I cannot go 100%?  According to the MRTC Facebook page, only about 13-14% of the registered runners achieve Road Warrior status.  This was a little surprising at first glance, but then when you think about what can happen between July 13 and November 16.  Injuries, sickness, vacation, poor weather, apathy, hangovers, and a whole host of other reasons may come up over the five month span of the series.

MRTC

There is not a ton of swag with the event.  There will be no medal for any of the races, or even the series as a whole.  This is more about running locally with other hardcore and/or dedicated Memphis runners.  It should be fun!

Country Music Half Marathon Recap

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This post is a little delayed, but I have been piecing it together since the event on April 26 as I take breaks from my final papers.  I am finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with this semester and will get back to a normal running/workout/blogging schedule.

Start line pic taken from the CMM Facebook page

Start line pic taken from the CMM Facebook page

I arrived to the expo on Friday around noon and it was a madhouse.  There was very little parking near the expo and the ones that were available would price gouging runners.  Therefore, Susan dropped me off and made the block while I grabbed my registration stuff.  The expo was well-organized, it was just a large mass of people in a small space.  There were several vendors in attendance and if Susan was not waiting on me, I could have spent some time wandering around the various booths.

Country Music Half Medal

On race day, it was advertised that you needed to get to LP Field by 5:30 am or there would be no free parking available.  We got there at 6:00 am and had no problem getting a spot, but the issue was traffic, as any trip to Nashville involves.  I went the long way to LP Field and missed the vast majority of the traffic, so that did help.  Parking was 1/2 a mile or so from the start line, so runners could get a little bit of a warm up before getting to the corrals.  The lack of porta-potties was noticeable on my walk to the corral.  The few that I did see had insanely long lines.  Around corral 14 there were several porta-potties, but by that point most people had fought the crowds.

Prior to the race, all I heard about the event was how hilly it was and that the weather could be quite unpredictable.  Whereas the course was hilly, especially on mile 12, that was not the most notable feature of the course to me.  The most notable feature was the amount of runners on the entire course.  There were over 19,000 finishers for the half marathon alone!  This is the first race that I have run in that had a crowd for all 13.1 miles.

This was before my walk to the start, minus my Grizz headband

This was before my walk to the start, minus my Grizz headband

I did a fairly decent job of watching my pace early in the race, balancing the hills, sun, and crowds.  In fact, it was not until mile 11 that I really started to feel the effects of the course.  And at that point, I had not fueled besides my water and Gatorade stops, so I just sucked it up and gave it my best attempt to finish.  There is a modest hill at mile 12 that felt like a mountain to me, and my splits reflect that.  I did feel good as I crossed the finish line, and felt that it was a great race overall.

Course: B: It was hilly, but not overwhelmingly so. There were bands throughout the course and quite a bit of crowd support.  Water stops were frequent and there was GU at mile 11, which is where the marathon and half marathon split up.  The finish line, however, was a huge cluster.  It felt like runners were being herded like cattle from receiving our medals to the various refueling options, around the corner to the beer tents.  Honestly, the process would have probably worked better if the race could have use the facilities inside LP Field, not just around it.

And for those of you that frequent The Chive like I do, the water station around mile 7 was sponsored by Nashville area Chivers.  It was great to see all those green and BFM shirts.

Race swag

Race swag

Swag: A: A nice looking tech shirt and two medals!  One medal was for completing the race and one was for being a St. Jude Hero.  The bonus medal was not from St. Jude, but rather the fundraising medal given to everyone running in a Rock ‘N Roll event for charity.  The 2014 Country Music Half Marathon medal and race shirt were MUCH better than years past, especially the 2012 medal and 2010 shirt.

Rock 'N Roll charity medal that I received for being a St. Jude Hero

Rock ‘N Roll charity medal that I received for being a St. Jude Hero

Overall: A-:  Fun race with tons of support and upgraded swag.  Weather in late April in the south can be quite unpredictable, but this year we really dodged a bullet.  It was almost a perfect day for running, and I finished as the heat began to set in.  I would certainly run in this race again.

Quick Update: I’m Not Dead!

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It has been over a week since my last post, and first, I want to assure everyone that I am still here, plugging away!  The hills of Nashville did not consume me!  This is the last week of the semester and I have quite a bit of work left to do.  Some of this is due to my procrastination, and some is just the nature of grad school.  Also, some of it is due to the Memphis Grizzlies being in the playoffs.  So, as I take a mental break from my 30 page paper and budgeting assignment, I thought that I would do a quick update on what is going on.

First, I completed my 4th half marathon in 41 days in Nashville when I ran the Country Music Half Marathon.  It was a fun event and a full recap will be coming later this week or early next week.  But for now, I want to share the medal with y’all.  It actually looked better in person than I thought it would.

2014 Country Music Half Marathon Medal

2014 Country Music Half Marathon Medal

Second, a couple of months ago I was chosen to be a FitFluencial Ambassador, which mean I will have the opportunity to review some products, techniques, or events throughout the year.  My first couple of reviews from this partnership will be coming very soon.

Third, Monday I finally joined a local running club here in Memphis.  I joined the Memphis Runners Track Club, which is the major running club here in town.  I only did a 1 year membership because I want to see what it is all about.  I am certain that I will post more about this in the near future as well.

MRTC

And one last thing, Go Grizz!  Tonight, at 7:00 PM CST, the Grizzlies will host the Oklahoma City Thunder, here at the Grindhouse.  If you cannot be there, watch on TV.  And look for the battle between Tony Allen and Kevin Durant, which pits the league’s premier perimeter defender against the league’s premier pure scorer. It has been fun thus far.