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!

 

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On the Road Again…

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On the road again
Just can’t wait to get on the road again
The life I love is [running miles] with my friends
And I can’t wait to get on the road again
On the road again
Determined

Determination late in the race

It is time to start my training for the St. Jude Half Marathon once again! It has never been a secret that this is my favorite race of the year, and training for it could not have come at a better time this big guy. I am in my second week of my sluggish training, and I am already seeing some gains, albeit, they are no where near my norms. But they will get there, it may not be until the 2017 St. Jude Half Marathon, but they will get there.
Running

Running & smiling in my first 13.1!

And our way
Is on the road again
Just can’t wait to get on the road again
The life I love is [running miles] with my friends
And I can’t wait to get on the road again
On the road again
My apologies to Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson. Also, my apologies to you, my readers, for this corny post, I will see myself out…

New St. Jude Marathon Weekend Race

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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.

2016 Germantown Half Marathon Recap

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I have written a recap for this race multiple times, and it most details rarely change from year to year. This year is no exception, so I am going to spare everyone the explicit details, and just share the swag, and give some props.

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A personal positive note, I was faster during this race than the Rebel Well Mighty Half, so that is always welcomed news! Susan also brought our son out to cheer me along the course, which is certainly a welcomed sight!

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But I said I was going to give props for this race, and so I would love to give a big shout out and congratulations to my friend, and friend of this blog to Andrew D. for crushing his first ever half marathon! He left me in the dust from the start and finished well ahead of his goal and certainly earned his successful finish!

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Swag: A-: For the third year in a row, there was a redesign of the race medal, shirt, and logo. It was another great design, and certainly trumped what was done for the race for the years prior to 2014. I still preferred the designs from 2014, but this year was still very good, even if the use of a Pegasus is a bit perplexing. They kept the long-sleeved shirt for this year’s race, and even had an option to purchase a hoodie.

Rebel Well Mighty Half Recap

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For years there had been a half marathon in Oxford, MS that Susan wanted me to participate in, but for whatever reason, my schedule never seemed to align properly with it. And when I finally decided to make it a priority to appease my Ole Miss alum wife, the race was discontinued. That is how things go I suppose. But this year Run Oxford decided to organize a half marathon to showcase their beautiful town (even non Ole Miss fans like myself can concede to this fact) and encourage healthier living. In fact, Run Oxford has organized an entire series of races for 2016, dubbed as the Inn at Ole Miss Oxford Grand Prix Race Series. You can sign up for the short or long distances, or just for individual races. I opted for the long distance, and that is how I found myself in Oxford, MS on a brisk February morning preparing to run a race in which I was not properly trained (my fault) and had no clue what to expect.

I have been to Ole Miss several times with Susan and her family for tailgating and football, as well as a few times in my younger days for some debauchery, but I have never visited to campus so early or when there seemingly was so little happening. I arrived plenty early because I was not entirely sure of where I needed to be or how easy navigation was going to be on campus. It turns out that I was overly paranoid about this fact because there was plenty of parking adjacent to the expo and finish line, and this area was also quite close to the start line as well. I did not browse the expo being that I was picking up my packet the morning of the race, but by the looks of the setup inside the indoor practice facility which housed the expo and finish line, there were a decent amount of vendors for this newly minted race.

Since I was not fully trained (a recurring theme which I am not proud about, and I have started to address) for this race, I opted to use a run walk ratio of 2.5:1. This ratio served me quite well for the first 8-9 miles, but my lack of training and mental weakness from this lack of training took over and I went into full on “how much longer is this race” mode. Nothing on my body really hurt that badly besides my ego and my confidence, but this is the bed I made for myself, so I forged through it to finish the race is a personal worst time. This performance will likely be repeated another time or two this spring as I work to reset my running, healthy living, and dedication into my daily routine.

Rebel Well Half

The positive to being slow is that it is easier to get a clean race photo!

Course: A-: There were hills because running a race of any distance in Oxford will have hills. It cannot be avoided. The race organizers did do a great job of trying to minimize the impact of the hills, and tried valiantly to incorporate the biggest hills early in the race. This was appreciated by all of us runners. The course went throughout Ole Miss’ campus, Downtown Oxford, and several residential neighborhoods, ending in the Manning Center (name of the indoor practice facility). Finishing inside was a great idea for a February race, even though on this particular race day, it was not needed due to the unseasonably warm weather. The Ole Miss cheerleaders cheering you to the finish was a nice touch as well.

My only complaint about the course is that the Oxford Police Department were moving us off the road and onto the sidewalks by 8:30 am, even though not all of the roads had sidewalks to utilize. The race started at 7:00 am and the roads were supposed to be closed/reserved until 10:30 am. I guess the small number of runners expedited the urgency to fully reopen the roads.

Mighty Half

Mighty Half 2016 Finisher’s Medal

Swag: A-: The race shirt was a full zipped hoodie which is awesome, even if they gave me the wrong size, and the race medal was nice looking, even if it was not revolutionary. There was no beer after the race, but there was plenty of chocolate milk, water, and refreshments to recover with. Also, they provided free race photos, which is always great.

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Mighty Half 2016 Swag

Overall: A-: This was a fun and well-organized event. I am curious to see if this race does become an annual event, and how many more runners chose this race in the future. If it is offered and I am available to run it, I will return to this race. If for no other reason than having a very attainable personal best finishing time for the course!

 

2015 St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon Recap

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Man was I sloooooowwwww during this race, and I did not care one bit. I had other priorities this fall and hence, I did a poor job of training. The name of the game on this particular race morning was finish, and I did just that, so it was deemed a success. Especially because of my awesome cheering section, including the newest and youngest member of the family.

 

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2015 St. Jude Half Marathon Finisher’s Medal

I love this race, raising money for the kids of St. Jude, and remembering what I can accomplish when I put my mind to it. This race always is rewarding for me, even when it is not a success in terms of my finishing time. With Susan’s pregnancy and the the birth of our son, my training was virtually nonexistent. I would go for a run here and there, or do a quick workout at the house, but I by no means followed a set schedule and my mileage was not ramped up near where it should have been. Therefore, this event became one in which crossing the finish line was all a cared about and even though my running watch was still going (I mean, I need to track those stats!), it was not something I was using to gauge my success.

 

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Greatest cheering section ever!

It several ways, this was the perfect year for me to have my slowest race of all-time. There was a new course to enjoy (I love the changes), I saw more friends along the course than all of my previous years combined, and my newest family member made his public debut to cheer me along the way.

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Heroes swag

Another positive about the 2015 race for me was that it was my highest fundraising total for the kids of St. Jude ever! Thanks to several generous donors, including multiple readers of this blog, I was able to raise $1,000 for the kids of St. Jude, which was twice the total of my goal! Thank you to everyone that donated!

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2015 St. Jude Half Marathon swag

No need to go through all of my usual grading for this event, but I will just mention a couple of things. The Heroes singlets are still tiny, so if you run as a Hero, order accordingly. I remembered to go up a size in the shirt this year, so I can actually wear it, especially since the shirts ran bigger anyway this year. The medal had an extra bling factor and incorporated the Memphis skyline and St. Jude’s campus again this year. And the course being reworked to avoid Overton Park and instead use Madison Ave. was an outstanding change. It allowed for more spectators, better crowd management along the route (both spectators and runners), and had less debris to avoid along the way. I am not sure why the change was made (Overton Park had been having some challenges with park usage and conservation recently), but I fully support it being a permanent change.

In 2016, this will again be my race to cap off the year, and hopefully I will be fully trained for it and I will be closer to chasing down a PR than a PW.

2016 Goals and Expectations

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2016 is going to be all about getting back to basics, and being the best Kyle that I can be. Top of the list will of course be the best father as possible, and every choice in which I make must factor my son and how it will impact him into it. That being said, this list is what I am aiming to do in 2016 to better myself and my community.

It's all about this guy now

It’s all about this guy now

  1. Embrace my spirituality. I have gotten so far away from this over the past few years that I am not sure where to even begin, but I am going to give it my best shot.
  2. Read for a minimum of 1 hour everyday. This does not mean playing on Facebook and Twitter for an hour, but reading actual books, magazine articles, and items of significance to expand my knowledge.
  3.  Be active for at least 30 minutes everyday. To say that I have gotten lazy would be a drastic understatement. Yes, I have had quite a bit going on, but I need to a handle on it. I do not want to return to the 300+ club again.

    I do not want to return to this form again

    I do not want to return to this form again

  4. Eat better. This goes hand and hand with my weight and laziness, but I need to do a better job of saying no to fast food and junk. I should completely abstain from these items, but I am going to allow an occasional (not daily) Chik-Fil-A trip or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup without brandishing too much guilt.
  5. Run locally. I have complained about the lack of races here in Memphis, but in 2016, there appears to be several new options for the 13.1 distance and beyond, so I am going to so my part and participate (I’ve already added the Mainly Marathons and Race 13.1 events in April, and I will be registering for the Great American River Run in May as well).
  6. Run more often. 1,000 miles is the goal for 2016. Getting and staying trained for my race calendar is lumped into this goal as well.

    Log 1,000 miles

    Log 1,000 miles

  7. PR at least 1 race. I do not care the distance, but I want to best my time for at least 1 distance in which I have previously run (no loopholes here) in 2016.
  8. Get more involved in my community. I work for a nonprofit and I do the Heroes thing for St. Jude, but I am currently looking to do more, and one area that I am actively pursuing is joining the board of directors for a nonprofit. I have applied to one board, but since doing so I have discovered more about the organization and decided that it is not an appropriate fit for me.
  9. Go to Opening Day 2016. A tradition I want to do with my son is to attend Opening Day for the Atlanta Braves with him every year. I have already purchased our tickets, and we will be there 3 months today to cheer the Braves on against the Washington Nationals!The Chop

So there you have it, my short, but lofty goal list for 2016 to be a better me. This list is very attainable, and unless some unforeseen circumstances arise, I should be able to check each one of these off by December.