2016 St. Jude Half Marathon

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For the fifth (would be sixth if Mother Nature cooperated) time, I have successfully completed the St. Jude Half Marathon in Memphis, TN. And that is where the good news stops, at least for my personal performance. To say that I finished the 2016 race calendar with a whimper would be an understatement. Actually, to call my 2016 in running anything but an unmitigated disaster would be an understatement, but that is not the point of this review.

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A wonderful shot of the race crowd. Pic is not my own.

My love for the St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend is well documented on this blog and throughout social media. I return to the race year after year, regardless of my training level to complete the 13.1 miles. And no year tested this dedication like 2016. For starters, I did not train  like I should. This is no one’s fault but my own. I could have gotten up earlier, I could have made arrangements, but I let the excuses win. But to make matters even worse, I spent the Thursday night before the race in the ER with my son with croup. And obviously his health comes before all else. So after spending the night in the ER receiving treatment, we were able to come home around 6:00 am. At this point I was at the 24 hour mark of no sleep. I smarter man would have called in sick and rested all day, but I had a project due so I went into work. And I stayed there all day. Now I am at 35 hours of no sleep. My wife decides that take our son to her parent’s house for the evening so I can get some rest before the half marathon, and she is a saint for this. I finally go to bed around 8:00 pm, which eclipsed the 38 hour mark of consecutive hours awake. My alarm was set for 5:30 am, so let’s just say that my two-day average of sleep was not great.

The forecast for the race was cold, with some rain, and both occurred throughout the morning. I had a rain jacket early in the race, but ditched it because I was overheating and thought that we had missed the rain, which was not 100% accurate. Within 30 minutes of discarding of my jacket, the rain began. It was more of a heavy drizzle and dropped my core temperature more than making me uncomfortably wet. Luckily for me, my decision to ditch my jacket was not a total disaster.

The last four miles, however, were a total disaster thanks to my lack of training and haphazard race prep. My legs quit on me. At first it was cramps in my right calf, then my left calf. Then my left knee started feeling like something was running around inside of it. I no longer could run even a few feet. The Nuun or water on the course was not helping. The Gu I brought did not help. I was resigned to walking the last four miles or so of the course, or quitting. Susan offered to come pick me up, but I refused. I signed up for the race, I raised the money for the kids of St. Jude, I had people cheering me along the course, including my wife and son, I had made it this far, so I was finishing this race! And so I limped along, trying to jog every few minutes, until I crossed that finish line at my glacial pace.

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This beer was the most helpful refreshment on the course! Thank you, High Cotton Brewery!

Swag: B: I like the medal, I was disappointed in the shirt. The medals have gotten progressively better over the years, with last year’s race being the high watermark for the finisher’s medal as well as participant shirt.

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Course: A+: I love the changes to the course this year. Removing the long stretch of boring miles along North Parkway, the paved path through Overton Park, and the uphill climb on Poplar Ave was a gift from above. Adding in more time through Overton Square and the surrounding neighborhoods made the changes even better. Hopefully this was not a one year course deviation.

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Nothing beats an on course family photo!

 

The 2016 Atlanta Braves

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I know that this is a running and fitness blog catered to a niche audience, but I have been reading article after article forever condemning the Atlanta Braves and vilifying anyone associated with their front office. This is infuriating to me not only as a Braves fan, but also as a person capable of rational thought. Today was the worst occurrence of such garbage pieces, and I decided to write a rather lengthy retort to this garbage article. Rather than constantly rewriting the ideas contained in the post over and over in comment sections, I thought I would just create a post in which I could use as a reference point. So if you hate baseball or the Atlanta Braves, and you do not want to read about such things, this is your disclaimer to scroll to the next entry or blog, no questions asked. You have been warned, and I will talk to you upon the return to the normal blog category.

If you are still reading, then you must be curious what I have to say about the 2016 Atlanta Braves, or you are just here to tell me how stupid I am. Both reasons are fair enough.

What was the alternative with the roster? This team is terrible this year, but they always were going to be terrible, just with a different cast of characters. Jason Heyward and Justin Upton were always leaving in free agency. Kris Medlen, Brandon Beachy, and Mike Minor’s pitching arms failed them. Andrleton Simmons while being the premier defensive shortstop in the game, cannot hit. The team has a limited payroll and until last year, they had arguably the worst farm system in all of baseball. No funds and no prospects does not equate into building a winning baseball team. Yes, the Braves could have gone all in for the 2015 season, but what would that have realistically netted? A division title? Maybe. A playoff win? Unlikely. The bullpen would still have been mediocre with Craig Kimbrel, the offense would have been feast or famine, and the starting rotation would not have been good enough to win. Remember, the 2014 and 2015 Braves scored the same amount of runs despite drastically different lineups. The pitching was the difference, and this was even with all star Shelby Miller. The Braves have not won a playoff series since 2001! 2001! Fredi Gonzalez only won 1 playoff game in his entire tenure as the manager and had two awful collapses with “loaded” teams in 2011 and 2014, and the another collapse with the depleted team last season, which is a little more understandable. And let us not forget Kimbrel standing in the bullpen, ready to enter the game as David Carpenter coughed up to lead on a Juan Uribe homerun. Let’s go back to 2014 when John Hart and John Coppolella started wheeling and dealing, and negate all of their trades, whether they have been deemed a success or failure. What does the current roster and farm system look like in this scenario? World Series favorite? A 100+ win team? Not in the slightest. Your 2016 Atlanta Braves would be the following: C – Gattis/Bethancourt, 1B – Freeman, 2B – Peraza/LaStella, SS – Simmons, 3B – C. Johnson, LF – Terdoslavich/K. Johnson, CF – Melvin Upton, Jr., RF – Francouer/Cunningham. SP – Teheran, Wood, Norris, Perez, Weber. RP – Kimbrel, Avillan, 5 warm bodies. Top Nine Prospects according to MLB Pipeline (current, actual team rank in parentheses) 1. Albies (3), 2. Sims (12), 3. Davidson (15), 4. Acuna (23), 5. Hursh (24), 6. Carmargo (25), 7. Povse (26), 8. Cabrera (28), 9. Parsons (29). I would have gone to ten or fifteen, but MLB Pipeline does not rate out far enough for me to include that many prospects due to all of the trades for prospects over the past two seasons creating an influx of minor league talent. Anyone drafted last year cannot be counted due to the draft picks acquired via trade and the different approach to building this team would likely skew the draft philosophy. Maybe the team still drafts Kolby Allard or maybe the team drafts the best available college guy with a hope to plug him in this season or next for the departing free agents. We do not know, and therefore must continue this exercise as such. This team would have be awful for years to come, not just the two to three years of awfulness the Braves are currently projected for. Do not forget, you cannot count the failures of 2014 because that was a different general manager and this super team that everyone is so pissed about breaking up was still intact. And all for, at best, what, twenty more wins in 2015? Five more wins in 2016? This team was destined to be terrible this year, but at least now there is some hope for the future, and next a decade of deplorable baseball like the 1980’s Atlanta Braves.

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This gif was found on TheBigLead.com.

Now onto Turner Field. It is not like the Braves are moving to Chattanooga, TN. They are moving to a suburb of Atlanta. Yes, they are moving because they could not fleece the city of Atlanta taxpayers so they decided to stick it to the taxpayers in Cobb County, but all this nostalgia about Turner Field is baffling. The stadium is wildly generic, the Braves have a losing post season record there, it was built for the Olympics, not the team, is the epitome of mediocre Braves baseball, the Braves have very little say or profits from the operation of he stadium, and it is literally a death trap with three fan deaths since 2008. Traffic to SunTrust Park will be awful, granted, but so is the traffic to Turner Field, it is Atlanta after all. There have been years of comedic material written about the traffic in Atlanta. On opening day, it took my family over one hour to travel less than three miles from our hotel to the ballpark. Three miles! I ran a 5K with a broken foot faster than that! The new ballpark might not solve any of these issues, and if that pisses you off great, because it should, especially since the need for a new park was not eminent. But being mad because the park is in a suburb and there will be traffic issues is woefully idiotic and a bit disingenuous. If you are going to be mad, be mad for the right reasons!

The biggest contributing factor to losing and infuriating fans are all of the hot take pieces being written like this one on The Hard Ball Times and what routinely runs in the AJC. The current Braves are an easy target for ridicule because they are not good at baseball and fanning the flames of hatred from the lowest common denominator is easier than being objective and honest about the rebuild. The Simmons and Alex Wood trades are abysmal thus far, and deserve some vitriol spewed their way, especially the Wood trade. But remember, if Sean Newcomb lives up to his potential, he is the ace that Braves have needed since the early 2000’s. If he does not, then the Braves traded the next Ozzie Smith for the worst shortstop in the game, even if this gross decline (and it has been certifiably disgusting) in Erick Aybar’s production could not have been fully predicted. The mid-2000’s in Atlanta deserve their fair amount of the blame for the team’s current plight. The pursuit of fourteen consecutive division titles and then one last hurrah for the old guard in 2007 was short-sighted, and robbed the team of some very good prospects for rental players on teams that were not good enough to win the World Series, with or without the additions. Was one excellent season of J.D. Drew worth the entire career of Adam Wainwright? One year of Mark Teixeira, with 6+ WAR accumulated for the Braves, worth five prospects that ultimately put Texas where Atlanta wanted to be twice, the World Series? These Braves teams were not merely a piece away, but the trades were done as if they were. A little more prudence then would be beneficial now. I, for one, am happy that the Braves are no longer putting bandaids on bullet wounds, and hopefully the team can maintain a prolonged success once again. due to this reinvigorated focus on the draft, scouting, analytics, and building a team from within.

In the end, none of these prospects may work out (highly unlikely), and the entire endeavor was a waste of time, but the chances of enough of these prospects to blossom in MLB are high, and the wins will certainly follow as well. So continue to fight through this abysmal season and think about the brighter days that are to come. And remember, as a Braves fan you have been spoiled since 1991 with winning baseball. The Pittsburgh Pirates had twenty consecutive losing seasons during this time period and the Kansas City Royals suffered greatly while building their World Series roster.

I am sure that my stance will not be well received here, but these denunciations have already grown beyond tiresome, and it is still only May, so it is at least cathartic for me to say my part. And honestly, I could have written another 5,000 words about this subject.

WWII Veterans Honored at Airport

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Had to share this post from last year since it is the 61st anniversary of D-Day. Once again, a humble thank you goes to all of those that served.

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I was out-of-town last week at a work conference (more on that in a later post) and on my return trip, I witnessed one of the greatest moments of my life.  I was at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport changing flights when it was announced over the PA system that a group of World War II veterans were landing at gate C7.  I luckily was in the area, so I headed over to the gate.  As it turns out, so did the rest of the passengers in C terminal, and what happened next was truly amazing.  As each vet exited the plane, they were greeted to a standing ovation and a series of thank yous.  One by one these men were warmly greeted by the crowd as they went on to their next stop.  The looks of gratitude on the faces of the vets as well as the crowd was truly…

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“How Do I Know When My Shoes Are Worn Out?”

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A question all of us runners have asked at least once!

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A frequent question we get around the store this time of year is, “How do I  know when my shoes are worn out?” Well, there are several ways to tell and keep track of when it’s time to freshen up your shoes.

1. Are they really flexible? If you can bend your shoes pretty easily, that means the cushioning is likely worn out.

2. Is the tread on the bottom worn? The cushioning and shock absorption in the mid-sole of the shoe will wear out before the durable sole of the shoe. If there’s extensive wear on the sole, you should consider replacing them.

3. Do you keep track of mileage? Most traditional running shoes last between 350-550 miles, depending on wear and tear and build of the runner. If you’re nearing the upper end of the recommended mileage, it’s probably time to invest in a new pair.

4. Having any…

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5 Do’s and Don’t’s for Race Day

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Quick and easy tips to improve your race day experience, regardless of your running level.

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As the Road Race Series is in full swing, and many of you are training for various fall races from 5k’s to marathons, we thought we would put together some helpful tips to get the most out of your race day experience:

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Hydrate and fuel well leading up to a race. It’s not necessary to “carb load” for a 5K or 10K, but eat good, nutritious food leading up to race day and make sure to drink plenty of water in the days before the race. And for longer races such as half and full marathons, incorporate more carbs into your diet the week leading up to the race. Not necessarily more food, but foods that have more carbs in them.

Remember racing etiquette. If you need to walk or slow down, move toward the right shoulder so as not to cause a traffic jam. Use only…

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