2016 marks the 15th year of the St. Jude Marathon Weekend, and with it, St. Jude is introducing a new race distance! In years past, have you felt that the 5K was not challenging enough, yet the idea of the half marathon or marathon was still too daunting? Well, this year, you are in luck! St. Jude has decided to provide potential race participants with the option of running a 10K for the kids! I will still be either running the half or the full marathon, but I am excited that even more people can participate in this wonderful race weekend. More info can be found here.
Let’s just file this away in the very late race recap category, but late is better than never. Back on October 3, I had the privilege of running in the Hernando Water Tower 10K in Hernando, MS, which is a small town in Mississippi just south of Memphis. It is actually quite impressive how Hernando has been able to maintain its small town feel despite the population growth and sprawl of the region.
I love the 10K distance. It is more challenging than a 5K, not as daunting as a half marathon, and staying prepared to run the 10K distance is a great way to maintain your health. I am glad that I was finally able to run in this event this year and I hope to make it a part of my recurring schedule in the future.
My time was not my best, but compared to where I thought I would finish, I was quite pleased with my finish. Better yet, I felt great throughout the course and actually finished strong enough to keep going a few more miles despite my limited training. I cannot wait to see how well I tackle this course in the future when I am fully trained!
Swag A-: I love the medal. It is quite substantial and doubles as a bottle opener. It also perfectly captures the theme of the race. The logo on the long-sleeved shirt and drawstring bag is the same as the medal design.
Course B+: The course was well marked and had plenty of rolling hills to challenge runners, but not overwhelm them. It was a scenic, small town landscape throughout the course, and I never felt that the course was overcrowded, even at the start line.
Overall A-: For a small town race being hosted independently, I must say that the race organizers ran a smooth event. Timing worked well, the medals were top notch, and there were no logistical nightmares to be had. The race was very enjoyable and easy to fit into my fall training schedule year after year. I will be back.
Last Saturday was the inaugural Bluff City 10K benefiting Habitat for Humanity here in Memphis. And since the Grizzlies advanced to the second round of the NBA Playoffs, graduation was moved to Sunday and I was able to participate in the event. Too bad the weather did not cooperate with my good fortune.
The morning began with the threat of rain and storms, and for once, the weatherman was right. Thirty minutes before the race was scheduled to start, the bottom fell out and the lightning came with a fury. A large group of us huddled up in a parking garage, waiting for the lightning to subside so we could fuel our running addiction along the soggy course. With each lightening strike came another delay of 20 minutes. It seemed as if we were not going to get to run the race, or even an abbreviated version of it. But just as quickly as the storm began, the lightening halted. 700 idiot runners cheered, and we swam towards the start line. Honestly, I welcomed the rain. It was a warm and humid day, so the rain helped keep my core temp low. I may not have been thrilled with the soggy shoes, but there is no need to complain about that.
This race had a first for me. About the time we were listening to the thunderstorm contingency plan, we heard a report that two of the water stations had been stolen! That’s right, some locals decided that they needed the tables and coolers more than us runners, so they helped themselves to them. This occurrence does lend itself rather nicely to my favorite quote from Clerks, “Bunch of savages in this town!” I will say that Start 2 Finish did a great job making accommodations for the missing water stops and we did not even notice it during the race. Kudos.
Swag: A: A simple, but great looking medal and t-shirt for all finishers. The post race spread was a nice mix of chips, bagels, and pizza, with plenty of Memphis Made beer flowing, even in the rain.
Course: A: Not terribly challenging, and it included a great snapshot of Midtown Memphis. Obviously the rain created some puddling issues along the course, but it did not create any areas that were impassable. And even though some individuals absconded with two of the water stations, we still had water (and not from rain) each mile.
Overall: A: Great logistics and a fun race, even with all of the potential for disaster. I love that there is another 10K in town, and I suspect this race will grow in popularity at a rapid rate over the next few years. I, for one, will certainly participate in this event again.
My optimism for this race could also be from the fact that this is the best I have felt after a race in several months. I have been in a funk, and it felt great to finish an event without having the feeling of having the crap kicked out of me!
I feel like I have beaten the topic of the MRTC Road Race Series to death on this blog over the past few months, so what would one more post hurt?
Back on January 10 was the winter party that celebrates the entire series, and I attended the party briefly that evening. The party is where runners could pick up any swag that they might have earned and the yearly MRTC awards are handed out. There is a pasta buffet and beer available. If I were not traveling to Memphis from Mississippi I might have tried to make an evening of it. But with the travel and the large amount of people at the venue, I took my swag and left. I did, however, talk with some people who went and they enjoyed themselves even though there was a large delay in the food and beverage lines. But since I did not attend the entire evening, I am not going to review the party beyond this.
The swag changes each year for runners that qualify as a Road Warrior (complete all 10 races) or Series Finisher (complete 1 of each distance or 6 total races in series). For the 2014 event, Road Warriors earned a seat cover, car coaster, trophy, and 74.8 decal. They did not have the decals at the winter party, and this was causing a meltdown for several of the people I know that earned it. It is a major point of pride and honor to display this highly coveted decal in the Memphis area. You endure heat, cold, rain, hangovers, travel, and dedicate four months to the series, so finishing is something runners love to show off. Thankfully, the decals eventually came in and were available for pick up once the rest of the race swag was made available for those who could not attend the winter party or if they arrived late to the winter party and the swag was gone. The Series Finishers received seat covers only.
My initial reaction the seat covers was meh, but then when I started to think about it, I realized the value in the item. I usually bring a towel along for races to cover my seats after a race for the drive home. Now, I can use the seat cover, and not worry about jostling with the towel on the entire drive to keep the seat covered.
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 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
January: 97.22 Miles – 1 race, 1 PR, the WDW Marathon, which was my first ever marathon, which meant automatic PR!
February: 59.20 Miles – 1 race, the Special Ops Spartan Sprint in Tampa, FL.
March: 69.15 Miles – 3 races, Germantown Half Marathon, Race for Recovery and the Glo Run 5K’s.
April: 76.75 Miles – 3 half marathons, Oak Barrel 13.1, Doc Rock Hal, and Country Music Half Marathon.
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.
June: 66.75 Miles – 1 race, 1 PR, the Navy Ten Nautical Miler, which was another PR by virtue of a new distance!
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!
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.
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).
December: 102.11 Miles – 2 races, 1 AG Finish, St. Jude Half Marathon, Run Run Rudolph 5K (3rd in my AG).
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!
Over the weekend, runners at the Wine and Dine Half Marathon festivities were treated to the first look at the Star Wars Weekend medals. Today, runDisney officially released the images of the medals for all the races for the weekend. And they are awesome!
It has been well established on this blog that I am a nerd. I am not ashamed of this. When both the Avengers and Star Wars Half Marathons were announced, I was beyond excited, even though I knew that I would be unable to run in either event. And then the Avengers race medals were released, and I was honestly underwhelmed by them. I guess I built them up too much in my mind. This is not the case with the Star Wars medals. RunDisney knocked it out of the park with these medals, and now I really wish I was able to be in California in January for these events. Good luck to all of you that will be running in these events and have fun!
It has been several days since the second 10K in the MRTC Road Race Series, so I think I should go ahead and write-up my race recap. There is nothing new that I can really add to this recap that was not covered in my recap for the first 10K. Parking sucked, it was a crowded course at the start, and it was hot and humid (a theme for the series as a whole).
I did not run quite as strong for this race as the previous one. I finished roughly three minutes slower for this race. This could be contributed to the up tick in humidity and my attending the Memphis football game the previous evening. The football game may have involved a few adult beverages, and I certainly was not in prime running from at 7:00 am.
The series is now 60% completed, therefore I qualify for the series finisher’s item and I am staring down that road warrior status. Of course, I have only completed 28.6 of the 74.8 miles required to gain road warrior status, so there are still some miles to log!
Sunday was the first 10K in the 2014 MRTC Road Race Series. The 10K’s are held at Shelby Farms, which might be the best course and worst parking combo in the entire series. This year’s course did deviate from previous years because Shelby Farms is undergoing substantial renovations. The fact that the course was different was mentioned. Repeatedly. In fact, it got to the point that I just wanted the guy to shut up and let us run.
Side note: the entire series carries a hubris that is somewhat off-putting to new runners. I have never run this race before, so I have no clue where the course used to go, so referencing the changes on the course based on the previous course does not give me any idea where I should actually go. I get that several of the runners in the series are repeat runners, but obviously they all are not, so at least give us rookies some tangible direction.
The weather finally cooperated for this race, and we enjoyed running in 60-70 degree temperatures. The humidity was still high, but it is Memphis, so that is to be expected. The course was mainly in the park, but due to the construction, we did log some time outside of the park. The early stages of the race were congested, as usual, but it seemed like there were fewer people at this race than the previous ones. This might be the trend with the distances increasing, other fall races starting, and football season getting in full swing. I guess we shall see.
Parking was a nightmare. And not because there was a lack a spaces, but rather where the parking was. Runners were required to park along the race course, which was a logistical nightmare. Just imagine 500 runners still on the course as the other 500 are trying to get into their cars and drive along the course to get home. It does not go that smoothly. I get that there are space issues currently in the park, but communicating for this could have been handled better.
Race shirts for the series were handed out at this event as well. The shirts are moisture wicking, but they honestly feel more like a cotton shirt than a traditional tech shirt. I am going to use it at boot camp and see how it does.
Saturday was the Disneyland 10K as part of the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend. I ran the event as a part of the Dumbo Double Dare. Surprisingly, this was just my second ever 10K, and being that it was proceeding a half marathon, I was not even going to attempt to a PR. And since the weather was warmer and much more humid than expected, it was great that I was not looking to PR. I did, however, run the race a little faster than expected. I wanted to take it somewhat easy, but I felt great throughout, and just coasted along. I could have shaved a couple of minutes off of the final number, but I am glad that I did not with the half looming the following morning.
Course: A: My first thought about the race upon looking at the course map was that it was going to be the most enjoyable race of the weekend. It was a flat course that despite the large number of runners, seemed to have room to accommodate the majority of us. And while the course was primarily through Disney’s California Adventure and Disneyland, the amount of photo opportunities were lacking. Most Disney races have several places for photos, but there were not that many throughout the course. There were two in Cars Land, which may or may not have just been a part of the park normally, and towards the end there was a Lilo and Stitch character meet. Some people saw Chip and Dale, but most did not see both on the course.
Swag: A-: Disney is know for their medals and other race swag. Of course, you pay a premium for these, but some races charge a large amount and you get inferior medals. This is not the case with runDisney. The medal for the 10K was great, especially if you are a huge Lilo and Stitch fan. I have never seen the movie, so I was indifferent about the character, but the medal does look great. The race shirt also came out very well, and seemed to be the best received shirt of all of the weekend’s events. I love the runDisney shirts because they are roomy tech shirts and as a large runner, roomy shirts are always appreciated.
The downside of runDisney events is the post race spread. There is no beer (understandable) and the prepackaged boxes of food are kinda meh. There is a science behind them apparently and with the amount of runners, there has to be a way to ration out the refreshments. A prepackaged box of crackers and one banana is underwhelming.
Overall: A: I really enjoyed this race. A 10K is not a distance that is overwhelming and with the limited amount of space at the California Disney parks, it utilizes the space very well. Since the 10K was not the main event of the weekend, the crowds were much easier to navigate before, during, and after the race. With the 5:30 am start, and the shorter distance, the majority of runners could be finished with the race, showered, and at the parks by the time they opened in the morning.
I really enjoyed the race, and I would do it again, but next time I participate in a Disney race in California, I hope it is the Avengers or Star Wars events, simply because I am a nerd and the weather will be even better.
I leave for Anaheim in 9 days, and at the end of my 3 days there, I expect to experience as much goodness as the area can provide. All of the following should be in my future: