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.

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2016 FedEx St. Jude Classic Fairway 5K Recap

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Originally I was going to run in the inaugural Race 13.1 being held here in Memphis, but with my lack of training and busy schedule, I thought it was wiser to run in this 5K and continue to build my running base back up.

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I ran in the first Fairway 5K back in 2013, but could not participate in it last year due to my schedule. I remembered that race had a great afterparty and was for a great cause. This year was no different. I was slower this year, which really sucks when you consider that the Fairway 5K in 2013 was my first race after my foot injury, but I am presently a work in progress, and I am slowly returning to form.

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Swag: A+: Any 5K that gives out a medal will get a high grade from me, especially the awesomeness that was this year’s medal. This seriously might be my favorite medal of any race thus far! Throw in a nice looking long sleeve Zorrel Dri-Balance shirt, a one day pass to the FedEx St. Jude Classic golf tournament, colorful socks, a cooling towel and you have some very solid swag. The post race mimosas, beers, and Bloody Marys were a huge hit. If you lingered too long out there, you certainly would have needed a DD to get home! The pre and post race band was also very good.

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Course: A-: You run through residential streets as well as the cart paths around the 17th and 18th holes. Everyone thought that the course was fast, and really flat. I can only think of two hills. One was a short, steep one on the golf course and the other came at the very beginning of the course. You finish at the 18th green with a fantastic post race party, which was a great time.

Overall: A: This may be the best 5K experience I have had. This is in part due to the great weather, lots of swag, scenic course, and great event management. Wrangling 800+ people through cart paths on a golf course is not an easy task.  Also, the post race Bloody Mary stand may have helped as well!

2015 Memphis True Blue 5K Recap

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For the sixth year in a row, I participated in the Memphis True Blue 5K on the campus of the University of Memphis. And this year there was a first for me personally which assisted in keeping the event fresh and rewarding at the same time. It is well documented on this blog that this event was my first ever running event and I do whatever I can to participate in it each year. Therefore, I will spare everyone the usual race breakdown and grading system (except I wish they would return to the shirts from a my first 4 times participating) and I will just briefly discuss my run instead.

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Usually, this race occurs on the first Friday night in November, making it one of the few night races in town and requiring no early alarm clock warnings to wake up for the event. I love that about this race, and honestly, I am certain that it has aided my three PR’s on the course. This year, the event was moved to Sunday afternoon due to homecoming festivities for the University of Memphis and other race obligations by the management company. I was not in favor of the switch, and by the looks of the sparse crowd, I was not the only one longing for the 7PM Friday night time slot. Whereas a smaller than normal race field was a bummer, it did at least benefit me personally. I was able to run at my desired pace from start to finish, and only had myself to contend with along the course, which was a major benefit to my mental game. I was able to push harder than I had in several weeks, and finished the race must stronger than my training would have suggested. While I did not PR again, I did run a strong enough race to finish second in my age group, which was a first for me for this race, and anytime you get a podium call, you have to be happy.

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Podium call for my age group!

I am looking forward to this race again in 2016, and hopefully another PR, and possibly another podium call are in my future!

2015 Stars and Stripes 5K Review

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It is amazing that despite how brutal of a summer that we have been having that an evening race in July was bearable, but that was the case for the 2015 Stars and Stripes 5K held at the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium and Tiger Lane here in Memphis, TN. Originally I was not going to participate in this race, but we had a friend, Abby, coming in from out-of-town and she wanted to run in it, so I decided to as well. I ran in this race two years ago, and while I thought it was a fine race, there was a train that ran through the middle of the course, causing several runners to have to wait out the train, destroying their pace and finishing times. Luckily the course has since been tweaked and there were no trains to contend with this year!

Post race fireworks (taken from the Start 2 Finish Facebook page)

Post race fireworks (taken from the Start 2 Finish Facebook page)

Abby was wanting to improve on her time and wanted me to help motivate and distract her along to course. In theory, the plan seemed solid, but in action, I discovered that I am kind of terrible at being a running coach! We started strong, actually probably too strong trying to find a nice section of the pack. During this jockeying, I lost Abby. I tried to slow down or stop a couple of times to wait for her, but with over 1,600, the crowd was too big for any recon, so I just forged ahead. I finished the race, informed Susan and Abby’s mom of our separation, and then headed back onto the course to find Abby and help her finish. I found her about half a mile short of the finish and I started running with her. I tried to minimize what was left on the course and let her know how close to a victory beer she was! As the final stretch came along, I encouraged Abby to sprint to the finish, pointing out a lady a few feet ahead of us that I knew Abby could beat. I actually yelled to Abby “You can beat her!” and then took off. Not only did Abby beat our mark, she sprinted past several people to a PR by over 5 minutes! It was a great performance by her and I was happy to be a part of it! I was so happy that Abby was able to exceed her goal and feel great about it!

A post race beer!

A post race beer!

Swag: A: After the race, there were burgers, hot dogs, watermelon, beer, and the other staples of a July 4th celebration. There even was a fireworks show for the participants and their families! The ultra soft, cotton shirt was so much better than a cheap, white t-shirt, and holding the event at a football stadium and tailgating venue really helped with crowd control and parking.

2015 Stars and Stripes race shirt and bib

2015 Stars and Stripes race shirt and bib

Course: A: Not too hilly, and they avoided the train tracks, so that is a plus. Also, with a crowd of 1,600+ runners, the majority of the course was able to accommodate us, even though I was scolded for running outside of the cones during one of the turns!

Overall: A: All in all, this was a very fun event, and thankfully the weather cooperated with us for the run! I will return for at least a third time!

2015 Kick It 5K Recap

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A few weeks back, I ran the Kick It 5K here in Memphis. This was my first time running in this event, which raises money and awareness for the treatment of pancreatic cancer. The event does an excellent job of incorporating survivors, families affected by the disease, and advocates for treatment. I participated with a team honoring the mother of one of Susan’s coworkers which passed away from pancreatic cancer after a lengthy battle. It was an awe-inspiring experience to see the amount of support and dedication for the cause presented at this event.

Team Sue's Crew

Team Sue’s Crew

It was a gloomy day, with rain and wind throughout the day. Luckily, the rain subsided long enough for the race to transpire, and the course was not overwhelmed by the weather. It was my second race of the weekend, and what is becoming a recurring theme, I was not at my best. I did feel good, however, and I did enjoy it.

Course: B: It is the standard 5K course that almost every 5K at Shelby Farms follows. The course is always overcrowded at the beginning taking about a mile to gain separation for those not lucky or fast enough to get to the front of the pack. It was announced several times for walkers to go to the back of the starting group, but most people ignore this. The course has a few hills, with the biggest sequence of hills right before the finish line. Honestly, I need to run this course more in training so I can get the mix of hills and enjoy different scenery during my runs.

Kick It 5K swag

Kick It 5K swag

The downside with the course is the early congestion. I was not paying attention at the start, and ended up having to start closer to the back than I would have liked. Having to weave around walkers and talkers cost me some time, but I was not going to PR or place in my AG, so it really does not matter.

Swag: A: This was a 5K, so swag basically means t-shirt. If it looks good, the review goes up. If it is ugly, it goes down. Anything extra is a great bonus. The shirt for this event was a long-sleeved white shirt. The post race food was quite extensive, with BBQ and all of the trimmings. There was also a silent auction during and after the event, and a live band. I would have stayed longer if the rain was not beginning to fall once again.

Overall: A: A great event that is run well, and for an excellent cause. The event does a fantastic job of raising awareness and support for pancreatic cancer. I will run in this event again.

And on a side note, in all of my races over the years, I have never had a repeated bib number. This event marked my second race of the weekend with the exact same bib number. Weird and random.

Race for Recovery 2015

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This post is a little delayed, but back on March 21, the second annual Race for Recovery was held here in Memphis, TN. The proceeds from the event go towards supporting the Shelby County Drug Court. Just like last year, I am employed by the drug court, and therefore, I will not be offering my traditional rankings of the event.

The venue for 2015 was moved from Overton Park to the Mississippi Greenbelt Park. I loved the venue change, even if the weather and park confines did not exactly cooperate.

Race for Recovery swag

Race for Recovery swag

The park has a running trail, but it is a dirt path along side the Mississippi River. When it rains too much, the path becomes muddy, and the river overtakes the path. This happened prior to the race this year. Gone was the scenic path along the river, replaced with a swampy mess that was not the easiest course to transverse. There was also a big hill at the halfway point, and some of the runners, me included, added some distance to our course towards the end due to some confusion on the course.

I love the shirt design for this year’s event. There was also a water bottle from a sponsor and plenty of snacks at the race conclusion.

It was a small race, and despite my struggles with the course, I did finish second in my age group and received a medal for my efforts.

MRTC RRS Road Warrior Addendum

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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?

The additional swag earned for becoming a 2014 Road Warrior

The additional swag earned for becoming a 2014 Road Warrior

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.

Road Warrior 74.8 decal

Road Warrior 74.8 decal

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.

The 2014 MRTC RRS race shirt

The 2014 MRTC RRS race shirt

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.