MRTC RRS 10K #1 Recap

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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.

This is the timing chip for this year's event.

This is the timing chip for this year’s event.

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.

The 2014 MRTC RRS race shirt

The 2014 MRTC RRS race shirt

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.

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Disneyland 10K Recap

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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.  

Disneyland 10K Swag

Disneyland 10K Swag

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.  

Disneyland 10K Medal

Disneyland 10K Medal

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. 

Wordless Wednesday: Disneyland Half Weekend Preview

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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:

Double Double goodness

Double Double goodness

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

Another stadium marked off my 30 MLB park tour

Another stadium marked off my 30 MLB park tour

2014 Disneyland Half Weekend Medals

2014 Disneyland Half Weekend Medals

One of these is hopefully in my future!

Disney Coast to Coast Medal

Captain America Runs

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I completed two Captain America themed virtual runs a couple of weeks ago, and I was delaying posting about the runs because I was I was waiting on a medal from a third virtual run that I had completed.  But, it seems that it is still going to be awhile until I actually receive the medal, so I am throwing them into this post.  I incorporated them both into my training runs, so despite being scheduled for July 4th, I ended up running both of them in June.

Both runs were hosted by the same people, and the proceeds went to St. Jude.  I was an early registrant and it is a good thing that I did because they closed the race early due to several complaints of copyright infringement.  Now these complaints were not from Marvel or Disney, but rather people on Facebook.  But to play it safe, the race was closed and since the medals were already ordered, those of us early adopters were fortunate enough to get our medals.

Susan & I differ on this medal

Captain America 5K Medal

The first race was the Captain America 5K.  I entertained the thought of counting my time at the Stars and Stripes 5K, but if I did that, I would just be buying the medal.  Therefore, I ran this race as one of my short distance days in June.  I ran 3.18 miles on June 18 in a time of 30:28.  This is not a PR, but is still a good time for me running on a makeshift course through my neighborhood.  Susan is not a fan of this medal, but to get the 10K medal, you had to register for the 5K as well.  The more I look at this medal, the more it grows on me to be honest.  And I must say that there was enough changes on the design to be safe on copyright issues.  However, the name Captain America is probably protected as well and that could be what the complaints were.  Oh well.

First Avenger 10K Medak

First Avenger 10K Medal

The second Captain America run was the First Avenger 10K, which I ran as my long day on June 9 when I returned from vacation.  My schedule was for six miles, so adding the extra tick to make it a 10K was not too difficult.  My time, however, was not stellar.  I completed the run in 1:08:45, which is ten minutes off of my other 10K, but since I only ran a mile or two daily on vacation and this was my longest run since the beginning of March, I felt that the time was great.  Susan really like this medal and would have preferred if I was able to run in this event only because of her preferences in the medals.

Move It Memphis 10K

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I ran the Move It Memphis 10K, which was my first 10K, so by default, I set a personal record!  The race was hosted by the Greater Memphis Chamber, and was organized by Start 2 Finish Event Management, a company that organizes several races in the area.  Leading up to today, I knew it was going to be cold, and Mother Nature did not disappoint.  Today was the coldest race that I have run to date, checking in at 34 degrees at race start and 34 degrees again when I crossed the finish line.  In fact, as I finished the race, it began to snow!  Of course, it wasn’t Superstorm Nemo level, but it was still snow.

The race claims to be the only race that starts and ends on Beale St, which is a good selling point, I’m sure.  The lobby of the FedEx Forum was open before and after the race, so all of us runners weren’t huddled in the cold all morning and were afforded access to indoor bathrooms.  And, unlike the St Jude Marathon, you were not in the bathroom line for thirty plus minutes.  There was also free parking at the Forum’s parking garage, so that was another major perk.  I got to the race about an hour early because I was worried about getting into the parking garage and I did not want to find a my own parking spot.  I hung out in the lobby until about ten minutes before the race start, so when I headed to the starting corral, I was shuffled towards the back.  There were over 2,000 registered participants for the race, but a little less than half of that actually showed up for the race.  And thank goodness, because the starting corral was quite congested and it took several minutes to get clear of the slower runners after the start of the race.

The course was basically a loop through downtown and was very scenic.  We ran down the trolley line on Main Street, past the bars of Beale St, past the Loraine Motel and National Civil Rights Museum, and through one of the most high-end neighborhoods in Memphis.  The running surfaces varied from pavement to brick to cobblestone to concrete pedestrian paths.  Water and Gatorade was made available after each mile, which is also a huge plus.

My only real complaint about the race is that they said they were using chip timing, but ended up using gun timing instead.  I wasn’t going to  compete for any money today, but it is annoying that my “official race time” doesn’t take in account that I was towards the back of the corral.  The chips were on the back of our bibs, but I guess there was a malfunction with the system.  I knew that I ran well today, and even though I usually go with the official race time, I am probably going to use my Nike+ time instead.  It is only about a minute difference in the two items, so it isn’t that big of a deal.  My gun time was 58:07, which was about a 9:22 per mile pace.  Nike+ had my run at 56:46 for a pace of 9:07.  Both are ahead of my one hour goal, so I am pleased with the results.

Race shirt, bib, & medal

Race shirt, bib, & medal

I talked about the shirt yesterday, but being a cotton blend, Dri-Balance shirt makes it better than your typical shirt.  I did not wear it during the race today, because I normally don’t wear the race shirt on race day.  I guess it is like in PCU when Droz tells Gutter ‘”What’s this? You’re wearing the shirt of the band you’re going to see? Don’t be that guy.”  I guess I like to be a little easier to pick out of the masses.  I really like the design of the medal, even if it is on the small side.  Of course, once I placed it on my display, it looked good.  It is narrow, but is still the same height as most of my medals, so that is good.  The only thing in the goodie bag at packet pickup besides the shirt was literature from the sponsors and a sample of deodorant.  I guess the organizers didn’t want participants to be overly malodorous at the race finish.  Central BBQ was one of the sponsors, so they provided BBQ and their homemade chips as a part of the post race snacks.  We were some cheese and jalapenos away from BBQ nachos!  There was also the standard beer, bottled water, apples, and oranges, but no oddly, no bananas.

Overall: A-: Many positives, only one negative is great, especially for a shorter race and it was quite affordable.

Course: A: honestly, one of the better courses that I have run.

Swag: B+: good shirt & medal, but little else (I know, I know, this isn’t a marathon).

Bottom line, I would definitely do this race again next year.

Gear

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Every runner knows that you can’t achieve your goals without the proper gear, so here is some of my equipment that I use for every run.  I guess I should mention that all of these items have been purchased from retail vendors and I do not get compensated in any way to plug these items; they are just what I currently like to use.

When you run long distances, you tend to have to shop for shoes quite often.  Most runners get 400-500 miles from a pair of shoes (according to info I found) and having a backup plan is a good, but expensive idea.  I tend to overpronate when I run, so I went shopping for a pair of shoes that helped with this running style.  After some extensive research, I settled on the Nike+ Zoom Vomero 7.  It is a light shoe with great cushioning and numerous color options.  I chose the gray/orange combo against the protests of my wife.  I also have an old pair of Asics that I wear in muddy trail runs and a pair of Nike+ Livestrong shoes that I occasionally use, but the Vomero 7’s are my curreny and primary running shoe.

nike_zoom_vomero_7_road_running_shoes_mens

For my most recent birthday, my wife got me the Nike+ Sportswatch GPS with Nike+ Sensor.  The GPS is powered by TomTom and it is very easy to upload data from the watch to my computer.  Whenever and wherever I run, I can record data with this watch.  The watch utilizes its GPS function when I’m running outdoors and the sensor (which slips into the shoe of my shoes) works perfectly when I decide to use the treadmill.  The watch tells me my current pace, average pace, distance traveled, calories burned, Nikefuel earned, time elapsed, and current time.  If I don’t run for a few days, the alarm goes off as a gentle reminder to get back out there.  After uploading the data to my computer, the Nike+ website will track my runs so I can see my progress or regression, as well as keep track of my weekly, monthly, and yearly miles.  I also can add notes about the weather, which shoes I wore, how I felt post race, and any notes I might want to write to refer to at a later date.  My personal records and trends are just a click away, as is my routes.  This is the perfect device for any runner, especially a nerdy runner like me.

nike tomtom watch

I wear numerous brands of tech shirts and shorts, and I really can’t tell much of a difference in any of them.  My Nike shirts seem to be a touch bigger than the others, but not enough that I need to buy a different size than the other shirts.  Being a heavy sweater, and bald, I need to wear a hat while I run.  The problem is, every hat will be sweated through between miles 3 and 4, regardless of the temperature.  I will say though, my Under Armour hat dries quicker than my Nike dri-fit hat, so I do prefer to wear the Under Armour one.   I don’t have any specialty running socks that I use, but I may investigate those this year.

I use the Yurbuds Inspire earbuds and they are excellent against sweat and the weather.  The company claims that they are guaranteed not to fall out, but that is not quite 100% true.  You must find the proper size to wear and insert them into your ears utilizing the proper technique.  Yurbuds has great customer service and is very dedicated to getting customers into the proper head gear.  I had a size 5, but after consulting with them, it was determined that I needed a specialty size 4.  They exchanged my earbuds free off charge, even though I was well beyond the warranty exchange period.  My Yurbuds do stay in my ears better than any other product that I have tried, but I have had an issue or two with them falling out when I get extremely sweaty.

I carry my iPhone with me when a run and use an Armpocket XTREME i-30 to hold it.  I chose this product because I’m asthmatic and it can hold my phone, inhaler, gels/GU’s, and keys.  It is comfortable and keeps my stuff dry, but it was not designed for the iPhone 5.  When I had my iPhone 4, the phone fit perfectly and I could store everything with no issues, but now, the headphone jack juts out a little bit.  It isn’t that big of a deal, just a minor inconvenience.  The printing on the product is reflective and once I put on the arm band, it never moves.

WebBlackXtremeSGS111

On my longer runs, I use a Camelback pack for my water.  I went with the 70 ounce version that is used by the military basically because it is what I already had.I’m sure wearing a backpack full of water isn’t for everyone, but I do prefer it to carrying a water bottle.

I don’t always carry my id on me, even though I easy could in the Armpocket, but I do always wear my RoadID bracelet.  It has my name, brief medical info, and emergency contacts on it, as well as a short inspiration quote on it.  This is great info to share in case of emergency, especially for someone with a severe allergy, asthma, or contagious disease.  I went with the RoadID elite and I actually wear it all day.  It has a black, silicone band with a metal watch like buckle and a metal information plate.

My running plan for 2013

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My plan for 2013 is simple. I want to actually have a running plan.  I don’t want to train for one race for a couple of months and ignore running the rest of the year.  But, I also don’t want to set ridiculous goals (like an marathon every month) for the year that would lead to injury or apathy.  So, I thought it would be fun to do a race each month of the year.  Each race was be of varying distances and design.  I would do some 5K’s, 10K’s, a half marathon or two, a couple of obstacle races, and anything that looks enjoyable and feasible.  The 2013 schedule is as follows:

Jan1 – Resolution 5K (a virtual race for Fortheloveofthekids.com)

Feb 16 – Move It Memphis 10K – Memphis, TN

Mar 17 – Germantown Half Marathon – Germantown, TN

Apr 13 – Run For Your Lives (Obstacle race in which I will run from zombies) – Chapmansboro, TN

Apr 20 – Warrior Dash (obstacle race) – Jackson, MS

May – TBD Maybe Memphis in May 10K or Zoom thru the Zoo

Jun – TBD Maybe Navy 10 Nautical Miler – Millington, TN

Jul – TBD No clue yet

Aug – TBD Probably the Elvis 5K

Sep – TBD The Tupelo 14.2 is tempting, but damn will it be hot, especially during training. The Cooper Young 4 Miler is another strong choice.

Oct 20 – 4 Bridges Half Marathon – Chattanooga, TN – This is how Susan and I are spending out first anniversary.  I probably will have to get her a REALLY good gift!

Nov – TBD True Blue 5K + a new race

Dec – TBD This is still up in the air. I want to do the St Jude half again, but I would like to try something new as well.  Am I ready for a full marathon yet?

I will do a write up of each race, including my thoughts on the event, pictures, my results, my weight on race day (this is a blog about running while large after all), and any swag that I might get.  The only drawbacks to this plan is races are expensive and there is not much variety in Memphis area races.  If I lived in Nashville, I could run anything I wanted to, but I shall make the most of it.  Or, at least within reason.  The cost factor is quite restrictive and has already altered my plan.  In a perfect world, would run the Flying Pig Half in Cincinnati in May and catch the Braves vs Reds the following night.  And then in July, I would trek north to Chicago to run in the Rock ‘n Roll Half and catch the Braves vs White Sox.  But this is not a perfect world, and despite my lofty goal, I am not going to go into the poor house to achieve it.  My plan is going to still be completed and will give me a great idea about future years.