Motivation Monday: Boston Edition

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As almost of you certainly know, today is the Boston Marathon. It is the world’s most famous race, and entry into the event is highly coveted. Qualifying for the event is not an easy endeavor, and earning a finisher’s medal will invoke envy from the masses. With this in mind, I thought it would be appropriate to share some motivation from 2014 Boston Champion Meb Keflezighi and the Rock ‘n Roll Marathon Series for today’s motivation. Enjoy.

Very true

Very true

Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series Discount Code

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It is finally here! I now have my Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series discount code to share with all of you!!!! Use the cod RUNNINGLARGE15 to save $15 on your 2015 registration.

Rock Blog 2015

Details on the code as follows:

  • Valid for $15 off marathons & half marathons in 2015
  • Includes both Canadian destinations – Montreal & Vancouver
  • £3 (GBP) off international races
  • Does not include: Mexico events, 1-miles, 5K, 10K, Kids Rock, 2-Person Relay, or TourPass
  • Expires on 12/31/15

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!

 

Great Race Medals

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It has been awhile since I posted, but I just came across this article about the coolest race medals of the year thus far. I have one of the medals (Disney), and at least four of the others would have been very manageable to obtain from Memphis (and I might try obtaining the Jackson, MS, and Little Rock, AR ones next year).

2014 WDW Marathon Medal

2014 WDW Marathon Medal

I will say that it seems that size matters for these medals, but the one for the ODDyssey Half Marathon is amazing and original.  They have taken the idea of a bottle opener and took it up a notch by making the medal a mountable bottle opener!  Very cool!  I do feel that the Oak Barrel Half can hosed on not being included, but it is still a solid list.

My awesome race medal!

My awesome race medal!

So anyway, you can find the entire list here.

I think that I will do my own top ten list of race medals at some point.  Maybe a top ten of the ones I have earned as well as a top ten of all that I have seen.

2014 Goals, Halfway Point Check In

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Before the year started, I composed some goals that I would like to reach this year.  And since it is the halfway point of 2014, I decided that it would be a good time to look at them once again.  Consider this an accountability exercise.

2014 WDW Marathon Medal

2014 WDW Marathon Medal

  1. Run a Marathon. This was not an exact goal since the marathon was 12 days into the year, but it was my first marathon and warrants some mention.

    Very nice looking medal

    Very nice looking medal

  2. Redeem My Germantown Half Marathon.  I did not exactly set a land speed record this year, but I was not injured and I did complete the race, so this goal is complete!

    This was after I finished the event and I had a chance to clean up a bit.

    This was after I finished the event and I had a chance to clean up a bit.

  3. Become a Tough Mudder and a Spartan.  50% complete with the Tampa Special Ops Spartan Sprint in February.  I ended up missing the Tough Mudder event in June.

    My awesome race medal!

    My awesome race medal!

  4. Try New Races.  So far this year I have run in 11 new (to me) races. There was a full marathon, a Spartan Race, 10 nautical miler, and multiple half marathons. Country Music Half Medal
  5. Run More Half Marathons in 2014 Than My Entire Life Prior.  Speaking ofhalf marathons, so far in 2014, I have completed 5 half marathons which is the same number for my entire life prior to this year.  And with 6 more half marathons on the horizon, I should have a couple of chances to eviscerate this goal.

    Log 1,000 miles in 2014

    Log 1,000 miles in 2014

  6. Run At Least 1,000 Miles. Well, at this point to be on pace for this goal I should be at 500 miles.  I am actually at 439.09, so I am 60.91 miles short, so I will need to pick it up in the second half of the year to reach this goal.  February, March, April, and June were all sub-par months.  I need to average 93.485 miles per month for the next 6 months to reach 1,000. USMC Fitness Boot Camp
  7. Focus On Cross Training. By joining the USMC Fitness Boot Camp, this goal will be realized by the year’s end, I just have to stick with it. 10NMMedal
  8. Continue My Race a Month Schedule. So far in 2014 I am 6 for 6, so this goal is going strong.  And I have already paid for at least 1 race in each of the next 6 months, so it is all on me now.
  9. Complete At Least One Pull Up.  Well, this goal has been completely ignored.  I am no closer today that I was at the beginning of the year.  Completing this goal is not looking good, but there are still 6 months left to realize it.

After looking at the data, 2014 has gone rather strongly for me, even if my running times have been somewhat lackluster.  There are some areas that I have lagged, but I have realized quite a few goals as well.  With a few tweaks and adjustments, I should be able to improve on my 2014 results.

Is It The Shoes?

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Back in college (and in middle school and high school as well), we played an insane amount of NBA Jam.  Is was not the most realistic basketball game on the market, but it was a lot of fun.  You would play two on two and there were tons of crazy catch phrases like “BOOMSHAKALAKA!!!”, “He’s building himself a house, one brick at a time!”, and “He’s on fire!”  Our personal favorite was “Is it the shoes?”, which was a reference to the Spike Lee Nike commercials from the 1980’s.

Is it the shoes?

Is it the shoes?

Anyway, history lesson aside, I have been thinking about my shoes for this weekend’s Country Music Half Marathon.  I have been dealing with some toe issues for quite a bit now.  Susan is just waiting for my big toe nail to fall off (I will spare you the pictures), and I am just hoping that the toe pain from the WDW Marathon does not come back with any regularity.  All of these issues have one thing in common, my shoes.  Specifically, my Asics Nimbus 14’s are the culprits.  The shoes are very comfortable, but they run small when compared to Brooks and some other shoe manufacturers.  I have run three half marathons and a full marathon in these shoes, but there is still plenty of life left in them.  I am thinking that I will transition them to my everyday shoe and go back to my Brooks Glycerin 11’s for the Country Music Marathon this weekend.  I need a new pair of shoes to wear around normally anyway, and as long as I am not running in them, they fit well.

Brooks Glycerin 11

Brooks Glycerin 11

My Brooks Glycerin 11’s were the shoes that I wore during my fastest two half marathons, and they are showing some wear and tear.  I ran in them last night to gauge how my feet felt in them and it went well.  Ever since my injury last year, I have been quite gun-shy with my shoes and that is one reason that I had transitioned away from my Brooks.

I will probably get a new pair of the Brooks Glycerin 11’s or 12’s for the Disneyland Half.  And I am not ruling out the Asics Nimbus 14’s in the future, I am just going to try a larger pair.

While I was writing this post, I came across an interesting article about Skechers sponsoring Meb Keflezighi, the winner of the Boston Marathon and American running hero.  You can read it here.

Country Music Marathon Updates

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This morning the St. Jude Country Music Marathon and Half Marathon released the medals for the event on April 26.  This was the last piece of information to be released by the event since the shirt was released last month as well as the concert and new downtown starting line.  So, for those who are running in the event, or want to, here is all of the released information.

Brooks Tech Shirt

Brooks Tech Shirt

Several people seem to be upset that it is gray, but I do not mind it too much.

CMM ConcertIn past years, the post race has had bigger acts than these three, but people on the Facebook page seem to be excited about the concert.  I am not, but it is free.

Definitely a Nashville feel to these

Definitely a Nashville feel to these

The difference between the marathon and half marathon is a color variation.  These medals reflect Nashville very well.

 

Odds And Ends

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This is going to be a catchall post for some random events and happenings over the last week or so.

Susan created a photo book on Shutterfly of the WDW Marathon to help commemorate my experience there.  She used a variety of pictures from the event, the celebration after, and some of the events that preceded the event. I have added a few pictures so y’all get an idea of what she did.

Cover Art

Cover Art

I have written on here before about my transformation over the years, but I really have not posted many pictures of it.  Susan included this in the book.

My transformation

My transformation

Right now over at FitFluential, there is a challenge going on to do 1,000 burpees before February 28.  Participants are encouraged to use the hashtag #FFBURPEE and at the end of the challenge, one lucky male and female participant will win head to toe outfits from Under Armour.  This will be an excellent motivation for my upcoming Spartan Race.

Enlisted

Speaking of the upcoming Spartan Race, traveling to Tampa has proven to be harder than expected.  I was excited that Southwest was moving to Memphis, but after my first experience with them, I am not so sure.  Over a seven-day period, flights from Memphis rose nearly $200 per person!  And in fact, the rates seem to change hourly.  Last night, I was able to find a rice that was suitable to me, but once I tried to order our tickets, and was declined because the price of the tickets actually changed while I was checking out! I called customer service and was informed that I could buy one ticket at the advertised price and one at a higher rate.  I declined that option.  I ended up booking seats with one airline to Tampa and a different one on the way back to Memphis.

Atlanta today vs The Walking Dead

Atlanta today vs The Walking Dead

What is happening in Atlanta and Birmingham is insane.  It is concrete proof of how ill-equipped southern cities can be for winter weather.  And then there was an amazing photo today of the deserted streets of Atlanta that is quite similar to the famous shot of Atlanta in The Walking Dead.  It is eery how similar the two photos actually are.

WDW Marathon Medal Display

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Susan and I made this for my WDW Marathon race medal since it was my first marathon and we wanted it to stand out.  This is very similar to the display I have for my very first half marathon expect Susan and I made this on our own.  She did the painting and I cut it and added all of the mounts.  We may put Disney World down the right side, but we are very pleased with how it came out.

Walt Disney World Marathon Recap

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Now that is a way to start a race!

Now that is a way to start a race!

On Sunday, after months of preparation and dedication, I ran in my first ever marathon, the Walt Disney World Marathon.  This is a wildly popular event, with over 25,000 registered participants for the marathon alone this year!  Add in the other three races of the weekend and there were over 45,000 participants in the running events at Walt Disney World!  Several of these runners were completing either Goofy’s Race and a Half, which entails running the half marathon and full marathon, and Dopey’s Challenge which entails running all four of the races on consecutive days!  As cool as those events are, and as much bling as you can earn from them, I did not participate in either one because this weekend was about completing my first marathon and I did not want to cheapen that accomplishment in any way.  Furthermore, I now have a next step, if I chose to take it, to strive towards in future years.

Often, Disney is associated with the premium price tag that one must pay for the privilege of visiting a park, buying merchandise, or even participating in a race.  But the company does pay attention to the details and very rarely disappoints in the desired quality.  The WDW Marathon Weekend was no exception.  Yes, there were some areas that could, and should be improved upon in the future, but overall, the entire event was ran quite well.

The Expo: The expo was not nearly the nightmare that I was dreading.  This year, vendors and packet pickups were distributed between three buildings at ESPN Wide World of Sports, helping with traffic flow and congestion within the expo.  There were signs everywhere directly participants where to go, and I did not have to wait very long in my line for my bib or race shirt.  There were also multiple areas dedicated to runDisney merchandise (because this is Disney and they do know how to turn a profit), which made it easier for runners to buy commemorative items and souvenirs from the various events.  I could not say no and left the merchandise booth lighter in the wallet, but with two new shirts, a commemorative pin, and decal for my truck.  I honestly could have spent more, but I did a good job of sticking to my budget.  And honestly, there really is not a thing that I passed on buying that I regret today.

A big-ticket item at the expo was the release of this year’s runDisney New Balance shoes.  I get the appeal in the shoes, but maybe not the $400 price tag for them on eBay, but the particular models of the shoes do not treat supinators well, so I did not have to worry about fighting for shoes for Susan or myself.  I will say that I know of several people who waited for over six hours to get shoes on Wednesday!  And this wait time was with Disney having a pager system for people buying shoes! Absurd!

Every running vendor imaginable was at the expo, and there samples galore.  I went to the expo twice, once on Thursday when we arrived, and once on Saturday since I forgot some race fuel and needed something before mile 11 on race day.  Both days the crowds were very similar, with the KT Tape booth and the runDisney booths being the busiest by far.  I did not buy anything besides some Sport Beans from other vendors, but I did enjoy browsing around  We were also able to register Susan, Susan, and Richard (the last two are my best friend’s parents who came to support me) for the Chear Squad gold level at the expo.

Chear Squad swag

Chear Squad swag

Chear Squad: Chear Squad is an excellent example of how Disney can turn everything into a profit.  Disney actually sells cheering opportunities for friends and families of runners!  It sounds a bit greedy, but with limited space and 25,000 runners, there actually was some value to it.  Without Chear Squad, Susan would not of seen me cross the finish line.  And that was worth the $65 price tag to her alone.  There were other Chear Squad viewing options along the course, but travel to them were next to impossible, and I imagine very few people could make it to multiple locations during the event and actually see their runner.  Susan gave up trying and just waited at the finish to see me.  Chear Squad members in the silver and above packages also get a swag bag with a waterproof blanket, t-shirt, and Mickey clappers.  Susan was glad that she registered for Chear Squad, but thought that Disney should have made better arrangements for travel between viewing locations and should have had someone dry off the bleachers in the viewing areas since it rained the night before.  If you are going to charge for seats, they should be somewhat accommodating.

Transportation:  This was the biggest catastrophe of the entire event.  Susan and I always stay on property when we go to Disney, and there is an internal shuttle service for guests to the parks, resorts, and shops.  And on race weekend, there were special shuttles to and from the expo.  This worked well for the most part.  What did not was race day transportation.  I was on my bus to the race by 4:00 am.  I was staying at Caribbean Beach, which is near Epcot.  I did not arrive to Epcot until 5:07 am!  And once you are dropped off, you walk across two of Epcot’s parking lots to a security check then to bag check then the porta potties (if you need them) then have a hike down a service road to the corrals.  This was nearly a twenty-minute process, so needless to say, there was no pre-race restroom break.

Also, there was no transportation for resort guests between 5:00 am and 7:00 am, so Chear Squad participants were left to fend for themselves.  Susan was able to catch a bus for last second runners, or otherwise she would have missed the first half of the race!  A little clearer communication on when and where she needed to be would have been helpful.  For future reference, spectators and runners should leave their on Disney property hotel by 3:00 am to accommodate for the transportation issues.

Running through Mexico

Running through Mexico

The Race:  The race itself was ran about as smoothly as possible.  The course was clearly marked, corrals were organized and entry closely monitored, there were frequent medical tents and water stops, refueling stations, and entertainment.  Bathrooms on the course were frequent, but there never was many in one location.  Corrals were released every three minutes and congestion on the course was not nearly as bad as you would expect for a race of this size.  I know some people thought the first few miles were too congested, but what race does not have that issue?  There was a constant stream of runners for all 26.2 miles, and it never seemed to be overwhelming at any of the water stations, of which there were twenty-one.  Apparently, the medical tents ran out of Biofreeze later in the race, but that is just what I have heard.  Bag check might have been the most efficiently ran aspect of any race that I have ever participated in.  Locations were separated by last name, so if your last name started with A or B, you went to one tent, C-E, to another, and so on.  You were provided a sticker with your bib number and last initial which was used to organize the bags.  Dropping my bag off and picking it up took about a combined forty-five seconds.

Weather for the race was not nearly as unbearable as last year’s event.  Temperatures were mild, with the temperature at the race start was 62 degrees, but the humidity was at 100% and the dew point was very high as well.  I was drenched by mile three, but thank goodness that these numbers dropped throughout the race.  By the end of the run, the weather was nearly perfect.  I did forget to wear sunscreen, so I had an interesting tan line from my GoPro camera strap, however.

Getting my second or maybe even my third wind in Morocco

Getting my second or maybe even my third wind in Germany

The Course: It is mostly flat, road with the only real inclines on the exit ramps for the parks and the entrance to the Walt Disney World Speedway.  There are a couple of narrow spots on the course, but the traffic in those areas was manageable.   One of the big draws of the race is that runners get to run through all four Disney parks.  And while this is true, the bulk of the miles still come outside of the parks.  You also run through ESPN Wide World of Sports and the Walt Disney World Speedway.  On the stretches of road outside of the parks, Disney has numerous marching bands, DJ’s, and character meet and greets to keep you occupied.  Captain Jack Sparrow, Lilo and Stitch, Jack Skellington Sally, Royal Mickey and Minnie, Pluto, Buzz Lightyear, White Rabbit, Rapunzel and Flynn Rider, Christmas parade reindeer, King Louie, the gravediggers from Haunted Mansion, Dopey, Wreck It Ralph, Belle, Mulan, a green toy army man, and Duffy were the characters that I remember.  The line for most of the character meets was insane, so to take a picture, you were definitely would sacrifice some time.  My favorite portion of the course was the last three or four miles.  Once you entered Hollywood Studios, you had no more lulls.  You ran through Hollywood Studios to Disney’s Boardwalk to the World Showcase in Epcot to the finish line.  My pace picked up over these last couple of miles and there were several good photos captured over these miles, including one of me high fiving Mickey at the finish!

High fiving Mickey at the finish line

High fiving Mickey at the finish line

My Experience:  This was my first marathon and I really think that I chose well on the location.  I was quite nervous about how my body would react to the event.  I chose the WDW Marathon since it would distract me and help keep the negative thoughts at a minimum.  For the most part, this strategy worked.  I hurt my toe around mile 8 and had to fight that for the rest of the race.  Looking at my splits, you can definitely see a rapid drop-off from the point of the injury.  I am not sure what happened, but the pain was intense for the entire day and is still a little sore.  I do not think it is anything major, but I will monitor it for a couple of weeks to make sure.

The calm after the marathon storm

The calm after the marathon storm

If you were to ask me today if I want to do another marathon, I would probably say no, the half marathon is the distance for me.  Ask me in a couple of weeks, and I would say that it would be something that I would consider.  Ask me in a couple of months, and I would say something along the lines of, “Sure, I know that I can handle the mileage and I need to lower my time.”  So we shall see if I attempt another marathon, but as of today, I am just basking in the glory of knowing that I was able to complete this task and live to tell about it!

My five-hour race in just 7:48!  Obviously, my marathon video has been edited down.  So much of it is such me plodding down a highway, and who really wants to watch that?  I will also be doing a recap of the other part of this trip, vacationing at Disney, but for now, I shall leave you with my overall grades of the event.

2014 WDW Marathon Medal

2014 WDW Marathon Medal

Swag: A+: Good looking tech shirt, amazing medal, plenty of support along the route.  Prior to the race, I was a little bummed that this year’s medal for the WDW Marathon was not as cool as last year’s.  But the more that I think about it, I really do think that this medal is on par with last year’s.  Maybe that is just my enthusiasm talking, but it is definitely my favorite medal.

Shirts & other items from WDW Marathon

Shirts & other items from WDW Marathon

Course: A: There was plenty going on to distract runners and incorporating all four Disney parks was fantastic.  Runners ran through Cinderella’s Castle, on a race track, through Asia, through Champion Stadium, Downtown Hollywood, across the boardwalk, and through the World Showcase.

Prost from Germany after the race for some beers

Prost from Germany after the race for some beers

Overall: A: Great race that despite a premium charge, it feels like I got good value for my money.