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 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.

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!

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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!

 

Run Run Rudolph Race Recap

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Saturday was the First Annual Run Run Rudolph 5K and Dasher Dash benefiting Rivercrest Elementary School in Bartlett, TN. As you probably know, Susan was the race director for this event, and I assisted her some in the planning and execution of the event, so I might not be 100% impartial in my review of the event.

Run Run Rudolph 2014 Race Logo

Run Run Rudolph 2014 Race Logo

The event was held at the school, and from everyone that I spoke with, it seemed to be a huge success. We exceeded our goal for participants, and ended up with 429 participants in the various race categories. The race categories were a 5K, 400 meter dash for the kids, and spirit runners. There was also a Christmas costume contest for adults and children, with the adult winner taking home a Keurig 2.0 brewer! The children’s prize was an Olaf Snuggie. Santa Claus also made an appearance at the event, and he was one of the biggest cheerleaders at the finish line.

The weather mostly cooperated for the event. Memphis in December can be unpredictable, with temps ranging from the teens to the seventies over the past three years. The temperature for the race was in the high forties, low fifties, with cloudy skies, and it felt colder than the thermometer read. But there was no rain and the wind was not really a factor, so it was still enjoyable running weather.

My bib and shirt from the event. The Dasher Dash bib was green.

My bib and shirt from the event. The Dasher Dash bib was green.

All registered participants were entitled to red, long-sleeved cotton tees with the race logo in the front. The shirts were a huge success, and we got nothing but positive feedback from them. In fact, one of the runners told us after the event that she runs in races basically every weekend, and that most of her shirts get donated, but she will be keeping this one. We certainly appreciated the love from the other runners, and I must agree that Start 2 Finish and Bluff City Sports did a great job with the logo and shirt. The debate now is whether we recycle the logo next year or change it as well as what color shirt will be best. The Dasher Dash kids also received medals upon completion, and every one of them seemed to think that the won the Boston Marathon. It was a lot of fun to watch.

A sincere thank you to all of our sponsors!

A sincere thank you to all of our sponsors!

Despite being crunched for time, we were still able to secure a number of great sponsors for the event. One of the sponsors was Keurig, which was a huge hit with the runners. We had three Keurig 2.0 brewers pumping out various flavors of drinks provided by Keurig for the entire morning. We had various coffees, teas, ciders, and cocoas, the beverages fit with the theme seamlessly. Also, the Keurig 2.0 brewer that was awarded to the costume contest winner led to some intense competition for the award. Susan’s personal favorite was a Caramel Apple Cider from Green Mountain Coffee. The Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate was also very popular.

And we are off!

And we are off!

For the race itself, the course was ran through the school neighborhood, starting and finishing in the bus lane at the school. The bus lane was an ideal fit for the stop and finish, even if it was a small incline for the finish. The rest of the course was run on city streets, and since it was run though the school’s neighborhood, there were families cheering along the course.

3rd Place AG Award

3rd Place AG Award

The finisher awards for the event were clear Christmas ornaments with the race logo in the center. We did red glitter for first, green for second, and silver for third place finishes in each age group. A mix of all three was used for the overall and master’s winners. The ornaments were assembled by Susan and I one evening (with mine being a little heavy-handed on the glitter, oops), and I am happy that I was able to earn one for our tree at the house.

My run, while not my fastest 5K ever, or even of the fall, but I did run well, and was able to place third in my age group! This is my third age group finish of the year, and I am obviously proud of that.

Overall, the event was a lot of fun, and everyone I saw seemed to enjoy themselves. The kids had a good time, and the race was a great representation of Rivercrest. I hope that everyone else that was there on Saturday feels as positive about the event as I do. And thank you to each person that supported us in this event!

We have also launched a Facebook page for the event, so you can like it here. You can check out more race photos over there.

Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend Medals Revealed

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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!

2015 runDisney Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend Medals

2015 runDisney Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend Medals

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!