2014 Year in Running Review

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2014 proves to be a very busy year in my running journey. I was able to maintain my minimum of one race per month for the entire year, which pushes my monthly race streak to 26 months and counting, with races scheduled for the first 4 months of 2015 as well. I eclipsed 1,000 miles (actually 1,001.69 miles) for the first time in my life, and racked up quite a bit of race swag. I completed my first ever (maybe last, maybe not) marathon to launch the year, and double the amount of my lifetime half marathon races this year alone. I established and broke a PR in 7 races this year, and managed to finish in the top 3 in my age group at 3 different races. I also completed the Coast to Coast Challenge by Disney and my first Spartan Race.

2014 in race shirts

2014 in race shirts

2014 Stats: 1,001.69 Miles, 1 Marathon, 10 Half Marathons, 1 Nautical 10 Miler, 2 10 Milers, 3 10K’s, 2 5 Milers, 1 6K, 10 5K’s, 1 Spartan Race, 7 PR’s, 3 AG Finishes

2014 WDW Marathon Medal

2014 WDW Marathon Medal

January: 97.22 Miles – 1 race, 1 PR, the WDW Marathon, which was my first ever marathon, which meant automatic PR!

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

February: 59.20 Miles – 1 race, the Special Ops Spartan Sprint in Tampa, FL.

Both of the Spartan Race medals

Both of the Spartan Race medals

March: 69.15 Miles – 3 races, Germantown Half Marathon, Race for Recovery and the Glo Run 5K’s.

Very nice looking medal

Very nice looking medal

April: 76.75 Miles – 3 half marathons, Oak Barrel 13.1, Doc Rock Hal, and Country Music Half Marathon.

My awesome race medal!

My awesome race medal!

This medal is good, can't compete with Germantown or Oak Barrel

This medal is good, can’t compete with Germantown or Oak Barrel

Country Music Half Marathon Finisher's Medal

Country Music Half Marathon Finisher’s Medal

May: 89.52 Miles – 2 races, 1 PR, 1 Age Group Top 3 Finish, Running of the Rams 5K (PR, 3rd in my AG) and the West Tennessee Warrior Half Marathon.

3rd Place Male 30-34 Medal!

3rd Place Male 30-34 Medal!

West Tennessee Warrior Run Medal

West Tennessee Warrior Run Medal

June: 66.75 Miles – 1 race, 1 PR, the Navy Ten Nautical Miler, which was another PR by virtue of a new distance!

10NMMedal
July: 86.08 Miles – 2 races, both of the MRTC Road Race Series 5K’s, I also joined the USMC Fitness Boot Camp for cross training and fitness purposes.

USMC Fitness Boot Camp
August: 98.71 Miles – 7 races, 1 PR, both 5 Milers in the MRTC RRS (PR set via new distance), Elvis Presley 5K, Breakaway Bardog 5K, Hit and Run 5K, Disneyland 10K, Disneyland Half Marathon, thus completing the Coast to Coast and Dumbo Challenges!

Elvis Presley 5K Finisher's Medal

Elvis Presley 5K Finisher’s Medal

Disneyland 10K Medal

Disneyland 10K Medal

Disneyland Half Marathon Medal

Disneyland Half Marathon Medal

Dumbo Double Dare Medal

Dumbo Double Dare Medal

2014 Coast to Coast Medal

2014 Coast to Coast Medal

September: 54.73 Miles – 2 races, both the 10K’s for the MRTC RRS.
October: 104.44 Miles – 3 races, 1 PR, both the 10 Milers for the MRTC RRS (New distance = new PR), and the Greenline Half Marathon.

Finisher's medal for the 2014 Greenline Half Marathon

Finisher’s medal for the 2014 Greenline Half Marathon

November: 97.03 Miles – 4 races, 2 PR’s, 1 AG Finish, 1 Road Warrior Status, both Half Marathons in the MRTC RRS (thus achieving Road Warrior Status, True Blue 5K (another PR at this course), and Heroes in Recovery 6K (PR and 2nd in my AG).

AG Award and Medal

AG Award and Medal

December: 102.11 Miles – 2 races, 1 AG Finish, St. Jude Half Marathon, Run Run Rudolph 5K (3rd in my AG).

Far and away the best medal that the event has ever offered.

Far and away the best medal that the event has ever offered.

3rd Place AG Award

3rd Place AG Award

It was a very productive, and healthy 2014 for me, and I hope to be able to build upon it in 2015. All race recaps have been linked on my 2014 Page if you want to find out anything further about these events and my experiences.

I hope everyone has a happy and healthy New Year’s celebration!

 

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Rock ‘N’ Blog 2015 Ambassador

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Rock Blog 2015

While I was in New York, I got a bit of good news that I have failed to share with everyone here. I have been selected as a 2015 Rock ‘N’ Blog Ambassador! I do not have all of the details yet, but basically, I will be blogging about the Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon series of events, and will be in attendance at a minimum of three of the events in 2015. I am looking forward to what opportunities that this position will create in 2015 for myself and my readers here. For my events, I am thinking that I will be running in the half marathons in Nashville, Chicago, and St. Louis. Dallas and New Orleans are other viable options, and I will be finalizing my race calendar soon. For now, I am just happy to be a part of the team!

New York, New York

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For an extended weekend just prior to Christmas, Susan and I, along with her parents, had the privilege of visiting New York City! This was my first trip to the Big Apple and I was determined to make the most of it. Our primary focus was Manhattan, which I assume is natural, and we basically hit every landmark possible in three and a half days.

This selfie became our Christmas card photo

This selfie became our Christmas card photo

Thursday, December 18, 2014: Arrive at LaGuardia Airport. By virtue of using LaGuardia, the borough of Queens was visited, even if it was just by the virtue of a cab ride to and from. It did seem odd that Citi Field is so close to the airport, but at least it is in New York and not New Jersey (looking at you Giants and Jets).

Times Square was always busy, but it was great place to start each day

Times Square was always busy, but it was great place to start each day

From the airport, we headed towards our hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn at Time Square. The cab ride was long thanks to traffic, but it allowed me to observe the skyscrapers and landmarks along the way. We were early for check in, but our rooms were ready, so we were able to get our bags to our room and start being tourists. And luckily for us, our rooms were upgraded to king beds, which I am sure no one in history has ever complained about! From our hotel window we had a view of Times Square and the ball that will drop on New Year’s Eve, which was better than the side of a building that my in-laws were treated with.

Awesome view of NYC

Awesome view of NYC

Lunch was at a burger place called The Counter, which was really good, the amount of customization for each burger was astounding. After lunch, we walked around Times Square and Bryant Park. Susan and her mom enjoying looking through all of the Christmas shops in Bryant Park and I was just taking in the sights. I must say that the characters that wander around Times Square are creepy. Most of them do no speak English, and costumes are not exactly top-notch quality. We saw a Mickey Mouse with a pink face and pointy ears, a hybrid of Cookie Monster and Animal from the Muppets, a Leatherface Statue of Liberty, and a blonde Mario. There were several others, but those will be etched into my nightmares for a while. And to be fair, there were some really good ones, most notably the man dressed as Batman.

If this has to be a warning, then you should not engage the characters.

If this has to be a warning, then you should not engage the characters.

We then walked to the Empire State Building. I know it is touristy to do, but I wanted to go to the top of it, so we did. The views were awesome, and the architecture and design inside of the building was beautiful. I tried to do a self-guided tour, but my device was broken.

Impressive

Impressive

After the Empire State Building, we returned to our hotel to get ready to watch Aladdin on Broadway. Aladdin was being shown at the New Amsterdam Theatre which was very ornate inside, but the seating was cramped. I thought my legs were going to be horribly bruised from how I was sitting for the show. This was excused because of the performance of James Monroe Iglehart as The Genie. It was the most amazing single performance that I have every had to privilege of witnessing! I could watch and listen to his rendition of “Friend Like Me” on repeat for the rest of time! After the show, we just grabbed dinner at a hot dog stand in Times Square and called it a night.

Great show!

Great show!

Friday, December 19, 2014: We awoke and headed out early. We had breakfast at a little place near the hotel called the Evergreen. It was a good and cheap breakfast place, that got insanely busy before we left. Afterwards, we trekked on to 30 Rock, Radio City Music Hall, 5th Avenue, and FAO Schwarz. It there was not a line of children, I would have played that piano from Big! Seeing the tree at Rockefeller Center seemed to be that most asked about landmark from everyone about our trip, so, yes, we saw and took our picture with the tree on Friday morning.

Tree at Rockefeller Center

Tree at Rockefeller Center

After walking around all of the stores and sights near and around 30 Rock, we headed to Brooklyn for some pizza. we ate a Grimaldi’s Under the Bridge, for some fantastic pizza, and a great view of the Brooklyn Bridge. We gorged ourselves on this pizza since it is nothing like what we can get here in Memphis, and then headed back over the bridge to continue our touristy adventures.

Nice view post slice

Nice view post slice

First, we hit Battery Park for a view of the Statue of Liberty. We decided since the weather was on the chilly side, we would not venture out to the statue, and I just got a glimpse from the park.

9/11 Memorial (South Tower)

9/11 Memorial (South Tower)

Then we headed to Ground Zero. There is so much that I can and want to write about this portion of our trip that I am going to at a later date to try to do it justice. I will say that it was very sobering to see the Freedom Tower, and 9/11 Memorials and Museum. The entire time you are there you are either crying or on the verge of crying. There is so much to see in the museum and the tribute to each victim will give you chills. We also visited St. Paul’s Chapel, “the Little Church That Stood” which is a remarkable building in its own right. I will go into greater detail when I do my Ground Zero post, but this church has stood for centuries, and was protected from a downed cedar on 9/11. Susan has book about it that she shares with her children every year on 9/11.

Freedom Tower

Freedom Tower

After the very emotional visit to Ground Zero, we took a cab back to Times Square where we ate a Junior’s, and discovered amazing cheesecake and black and white cookies. Both items were delicious, and were consumed repeatedly throughout the rest of the trip.

I had to get my cheesecake to go

I had to get my cheesecake to go

Saturday, December 20, 2014: The day started at the Evergreen, and then we headed to Central Park for a carriage ride. We walked around Columbus Circle and then headed to Tom’s Restaurant, which is better known as Monk’s to those of us Seinfeld nerds in the world, and then had lobster rolls at Luke’s Lobster Rolls.

This might be the most common photo from every Seinfeld fan when the visit New York

This might be the most common photo from every Seinfeld fan when the visit New York

After lunch, we had a museum tour/scavenger hunt at the American Museum of Natural History conducted by Watson’s. The hunt was very detailed, and was designed to take over two hours to complete. And since we were double booked with scavenger hunts, and the temperature in the museum was somewhere between the sun and the seventh layer of Hell, we left early.

I could have spent all day in the dinosaur exhibits.

I could have spent all day in the dinosaur exhibits.

Our second scavenger hunt was in the Village so we exited the museum, grabbed a cab, and headed south. This scavenger hunt was conducted by Accomplice: The Show. There is one for New York and The Village, but during December, the New York show is not available. The actors in the show are of great quality, and you end up seeing quite a bit of the Village as you go from place to place to gather clues. It is a fun way to spend an afternoon, but the amount of fun heavily depends on the amount of engagement of your fellow participants. If you get some duds in your group, your experience will be tarnished somewhat.

Triceratops!

Triceratops!

After solving the crime in Accomplice, we headed to Katz’s Delicatessen for dinner. We did not sit in the When Harry Met Sally table, but we did get to absorb the full Katz’s experience. I went with the pastrami and it was delicious! I was able to conquer the entire sandwich, which was not an easy feat.

So freaking good!

So freaking good!

After dinner, we, along with 6 billion other people returned to Rockefeller Center to see the tree at night. My mother-in-law wanted a family photo with the tree, but that was not happening. We fought the crowds for a bit, looking at the decorated store front windows, and then headed back towards the hotel, making sure to detour for some more cheesecake before retiring for the evening.

The tree, at night, with several other spectators

The tree, at night, with several other spectators

Sunday, December 21, 2014: This was our last day in New York, and it was mainly a travel day. We did have another trip through Times Square and Bryant Park, buying some last-minute souvenirs and getting one more taste of the culinary fare of New York. Over the course of the extended weekend in New York, we saw everything on our list, walked over 23 miles along the streets of the city, and got a brief glimpse into another area of the country. I guess you can say that we enjoyed our trip, and we look forward to our next visit to NYC! Also, sorry for the novel of a post, I guess I should have separated it by each day!

A pic of Susan and I at the tree at Rockefeller Center

A pic of Susan and I at the tree at Rockefeller Center

Run Run Rudolph Race Recap

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Saturday was the First Annual Run Run Rudolph 5K and Dasher Dash benefiting Rivercrest Elementary School in Bartlett, TN. As you probably know, Susan was the race director for this event, and I assisted her some in the planning and execution of the event, so I might not be 100% impartial in my review of the event.

Run Run Rudolph 2014 Race Logo

Run Run Rudolph 2014 Race Logo

The event was held at the school, and from everyone that I spoke with, it seemed to be a huge success. We exceeded our goal for participants, and ended up with 429 participants in the various race categories. The race categories were a 5K, 400 meter dash for the kids, and spirit runners. There was also a Christmas costume contest for adults and children, with the adult winner taking home a Keurig 2.0 brewer! The children’s prize was an Olaf Snuggie. Santa Claus also made an appearance at the event, and he was one of the biggest cheerleaders at the finish line.

The weather mostly cooperated for the event. Memphis in December can be unpredictable, with temps ranging from the teens to the seventies over the past three years. The temperature for the race was in the high forties, low fifties, with cloudy skies, and it felt colder than the thermometer read. But there was no rain and the wind was not really a factor, so it was still enjoyable running weather.

My bib and shirt from the event. The Dasher Dash bib was green.

My bib and shirt from the event. The Dasher Dash bib was green.

All registered participants were entitled to red, long-sleeved cotton tees with the race logo in the front. The shirts were a huge success, and we got nothing but positive feedback from them. In fact, one of the runners told us after the event that she runs in races basically every weekend, and that most of her shirts get donated, but she will be keeping this one. We certainly appreciated the love from the other runners, and I must agree that Start 2 Finish and Bluff City Sports did a great job with the logo and shirt. The debate now is whether we recycle the logo next year or change it as well as what color shirt will be best. The Dasher Dash kids also received medals upon completion, and every one of them seemed to think that the won the Boston Marathon. It was a lot of fun to watch.

A sincere thank you to all of our sponsors!

A sincere thank you to all of our sponsors!

Despite being crunched for time, we were still able to secure a number of great sponsors for the event. One of the sponsors was Keurig, which was a huge hit with the runners. We had three Keurig 2.0 brewers pumping out various flavors of drinks provided by Keurig for the entire morning. We had various coffees, teas, ciders, and cocoas, the beverages fit with the theme seamlessly. Also, the Keurig 2.0 brewer that was awarded to the costume contest winner led to some intense competition for the award. Susan’s personal favorite was a Caramel Apple Cider from Green Mountain Coffee. The Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate was also very popular.

And we are off!

And we are off!

For the race itself, the course was ran through the school neighborhood, starting and finishing in the bus lane at the school. The bus lane was an ideal fit for the stop and finish, even if it was a small incline for the finish. The rest of the course was run on city streets, and since it was run though the school’s neighborhood, there were families cheering along the course.

3rd Place AG Award

3rd Place AG Award

The finisher awards for the event were clear Christmas ornaments with the race logo in the center. We did red glitter for first, green for second, and silver for third place finishes in each age group. A mix of all three was used for the overall and master’s winners. The ornaments were assembled by Susan and I one evening (with mine being a little heavy-handed on the glitter, oops), and I am happy that I was able to earn one for our tree at the house.

My run, while not my fastest 5K ever, or even of the fall, but I did run well, and was able to place third in my age group! This is my third age group finish of the year, and I am obviously proud of that.

Overall, the event was a lot of fun, and everyone I saw seemed to enjoy themselves. The kids had a good time, and the race was a great representation of Rivercrest. I hope that everyone else that was there on Saturday feels as positive about the event as I do. And thank you to each person that supported us in this event!

We have also launched a Facebook page for the event, so you can like it here. You can check out more race photos over there.

2015 Mercedes Half Marathon

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One of these should be in my future!

One of these should be in my future!

Well, it looks like I will be heading to Birmingham, AL in February at add state #6 to my half marathon running trek! I won a contest from the 100 Half Marathons Club for a free entry into the race and I sent off my registration info earlier this week! Now, I am just waiting for my registration confirmation. I am looking forward to the race, and the awesome finisher’s medal! I guess I need to book my hotel.

 

2014 St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon

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Saturday was the St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend, and once again I ran in the half marathon. This is my fourth consecutive year registering for this event, and each time I have taken something new away from the experience. I love raising money for this cause, and the event is always top-notch. This race truly is a great celebration of St. Jude and the City of Memphis, and it is always an honor to participate in it.

The St. Jude logo painted onto Beale St.

The St. Jude logo painted onto Beale St.

There is not much I can about the race that I have not said before, I will give it my best shot.

The start line for the 2014 St. Jude Half Marathon

The start line for the 2014 St. Jude Half Marathon

The weather for the race was cool, cloudy, and windy, but there was no rain like the day before or ice like the previous year, so it was certainly bearable. If anything, the weather was slightly warmer than ideal for my personal preferences, but I did enjoy it.

One of several pics Susan got of me on the course.

One of several pics Susan got of me on the course.

There were a little over 18.000 of us out there running the streets of Memphis on Saturday morning in the various events. This is about the normal amount of runners for the events and the crowding along the course was also about the same. We were crowded at the start, then gained some separation for a few miles, then bottled up a bit going through Overton Park, and stayed in pockets of runners for the remainder of the half marathon.

The half marathon was my tenth of the year, fifteenth overall, and my time was solid. I finished in 2:18:03, which is my second fastest half of the year. I started off a little too fast, but overall, I felt good for the vast majority of the race. I did forget about the hills towards the end, and did not have the best plan of attack for them this year, but I survived. There is always next year to break my course, and even overall PR! This very well may become a 2015 goal. That or attempt the full marathon in 2015. We shall see.

2014 St. Jude HM Swag

Shirts and medal for the 2014 event. the back of the shirt had the Memphis skyline with St. Jude incorporated into it.

Swag: A+: I am always pleased with the expo for this event. There is always several vendors and tons of information available. This is the first year that I actually heeded my own advice and requested a shirt in  a size larger than I normally wear. And since I did that, I finally have a St. Jude Half Marathon race shirt that I can wear in different events! Also, this year’s medal is by far the best one that has been offered by the event, and I loved the incorporation of Memphis and St. Jude landmarks onto the medal, as well as the shirt. My Heroes singlet was still too snug for me to run in comfortably, but I did run in my Heroes training shirt, so I was still able to celebrate the kiddos at St. Jude. If it was much colder, then the compression like fit of the singlet would have been welcomed for the run.

Far and away the best medal that the event has ever offered.

Far and away the best medal that the event has ever offered.

Course: A: The start was slightly revised, following a more straightforward route which is similar to several of the other downtown races. It helped with congestion early in the race a little bit, but did not make or break the race. The highlight of the course, as always, was running through the St. Jude campus. And the marathon actually went through the campus twice! The hills towards the end are tough, but manageable if you have a plan.

Great post-race meal at an U of M institution (even if it is no longer by the U of M)! Also, rocking my Strikeout Cancer shirt.

Great post-race meal at an U of M institution (even if it is no longer by the U of M)! Also, rocking my Strikeout Cancer shirt.

Overall: A: As always, I love this event. The logistics for the runner is always top-notch. Even in the heavily congested food and beverage area, there are signs and directions. The only negative was that the beer garden was not clearly marked, and getting to it was not easy. I ended up skipping it altogether, despite wearing my 21 and up id bracelet for the two days prior.

Chewbacca runs Memphis! The best costume in the entire event, and this person ran the full marathon like this!

Chewbacca runs Memphis! The best costume in the entire event, and this person ran the full marathon like this!

Apology: Several months ago I posted about a special medal that was going to be given out to Heroes raising at least $100 at each of the Country Music Marathon/Half Marathon in Nashville, and the St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend. I even put this in  a post last week. Well, this did not happen. So, if anyone got their hopes up about this medal, I am sorry for sharing incorrect information. I do not know why the medal  was not given out, but the Rock ‘N Roll Marathon site still has the page for the medal up. I received two emails about the medal, one of which said medals will be shipped in a couple of weeks, and one that said that medals were not offered. It sounds like to me that there will be no medals. Update: So I got another email saying that medals will be mailed out in a few weeks. Regardless, take pride in knowing that you efforts helped the children of St. Jude, which are the real reason for these events anyway.

Obviously, I plan on running in this event in the future. The only real question is whether or not I run in the half or full marathon next year. The only reason that I am considering the full is because next year’s event falls on my birthday, and that would be a cool way to celebrate!

It’s St. Jude Race Week Once Again

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This week is going to be a hectic one for me. It is my birthday, finals, and the St. Jude Half Marathon occurring concurrently. I also had an opportunity to go to a conference for work, but I wisely turned down that opportunity to focus on everything else.

My 1st race medal - St. Jude Half 2011

My 1st race medal – St. Jude Half 2011

Race week means that I ratchet down my workouts, trying to avoid injury and stay fresh for the big event. I do not always adhere to this since my schedule has been so packed with races, but I am going to do my best to take it easy this week. After all, nothing I do this week is going to drastically improve my time on Saturday morning, so why risk injury?

2012 St. Jude Half Marathon Medal

2012 St. Jude Half Marathon Medal

I have been checking the weather forecast like a psycho for the past few days, and while the weather does not look ideal, it should be warmer than last year’s event that was canceled for the cold and ice (even though some of us crazy runners hit the streets anyway) and drier than the second MRTC RRS half marathon. I can only hope that this remains true.

Photo produced by Competitor Group

Photo produced by Competitor Group

I have reached my fundraising total, so I can cruise along without stressing about finding the extra dollars needed for that. And I think that for the first time, I will squeeze into my Heroes singlet for the race (don’t worry, I will have an under shit on) to celebrate the wonder place that is St. Jude.

This was me as I was about to head out for my very cold 13.1!

This was me as I was about to head out for my very cold 13.1!

I recently upgraded phones, so I have been debating what to do with my new iPhone 6. 13.1 miles can get very sweaty, and with the chance for rain, I decided to bite the bullet and invest in a Lifeproof case, even though the model that I really wanted has not been released yet. I would rather sacrifice some aesthetics rather than my entire phone!

2013 St. Jude Marathon Weekend Medal (w/ a little ice)

2013 St. Jude Marathon Weekend Medal (w/ a little ice)

New phone, also means I need a new playlist, so during study breaks, I will be constructing a list of tunes to help carry me to the finish line!

Good luck to all my fellow St. Jude Marathon Weekend participants and everyone else running this weekend!