Doc Rock Half Recap

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Saturday was the Doc Rock Half Marathon and Run in Jonesboro, AR, and it was my second half marathon for the month of April.  This was the first time that I attempted to run half marathons in consecutive weeks, but I felt confident that it would go well.  Boy, how wrong was I!  I think my training and recovery are not fully to blame, but I still finished, so there is that.

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I showed up early for the event, which I am prone to do, and picked up my race packet without incident.  The race and health expo was held at the Convocation Center at Arkansas State University, and appears to be quite a big deal for the community.  Since the expo was not open, I just returned to my truck to wait for more people to show up and the race to start.

The race started promptly at 7:30 am and with under 300 half marathon runners, it was the smallest half marathon that I have been associated with thus far.  With the small number of runners, and wide course, there actually were no issues with crowding on the course, even at the start.  Of course, with an open course, you have to fight the urge to run up front with the faster runners.  As the race began, I noticed two things.  One, it was a little warmer than I was expecting.  In fact, Saturday turned out to be the warmest day of 2014 thus far.  And two, there were more hills than I anticipated.  The website for the race did show some hills, but after Whiskey Hill last week, I did not think this week would be any worse.  Wrong!

The constant up and down of the hills along with temperatures over 20 degrees warmer than any of my 2014 runs led to a very poor run by myself.  I was pouring sweat from mile 1 and there never seemed to be a reprieve from the sun.  I have run in warmer conditions than this several times before, but it kicked my ass on Saturday.  And as I climbed each hill, and sweated even more heavily, my mental resolve began to dip.  I was not in the best of places by mile 10, but I eventually fought through this to finish the race.  The only problem is when the race was supposed to be finished, it was not.  My GPS usually differs slightly from the course, usually for passing people, water stops, and the such.  By the end of a race, I have seen variations up to .14 over the posted mileage.  No big deal, I anticipate these variations.  Except on Saturday, my variation was .48 and the finish line was still not in plain sight!

In the end, the course ran a full half a mile long according to every person I spoke with.  Even worse was that this half a mile was unnecessary since the finish took runners around the entire Convocation Center to finish at the north entrance.  If the race would have eliminated the trip around the building, the mileage would have been closer to 13.1, and one last hill would have been avoided.  The girl who finished when I did was much angrier about this course issue than I was, but that half a mile discrepancy led to my slowest half marathon by over 6:00!  If the course would have been correct, I would have been close to my slowest race, but not that slow.  But I finished, and that is always the goal.

Course: C: Lots of hills, not much scenery, and half a mile too long.  The volunteers and support staff were wonderful and they could not control the heat.  Every mile had a water stop, which came in handy as the race progressed.  One of the race timers told me after the race that they had people switch from the half to the 5K due to the unexpected heat wave.

Soft hoodie and a solid medal

Soft hoodie and a solid medal

Swag: B+: The race shirt for this event was a hooded sweatshirt, which is different from any race that I have participated in thus far.  From my talks with some of the race officials, the shirt was decided upon because this event is often very cool, like last year.  It is funny that I was given a hoodie for a race held on the hottest day of the year.  Of course, it was 32 degrees this morning, so the hoodie would be perfect today!  All finishers received a good-looking medal.  The medal is fine, it just happens to follow two great medals, so it cannot compare to the Germantown Half or Oak Barrel Half medals.  The medal was the same as last year’s event, just with an updated event date.

This medal is good, can't compete with Germantown or Oak Barrel

This medal is good, can’t compete with Germantown or Oak Barrel

Overall: C+: I wanted to like this event more than I actually did.  It is for a great cause and has some amazing volunteers and support staff.  I may revisit this post in a couple of months and see if this score is reflective of the actual event and not the way the heat zapped me on race day.  All of the activities associated with the event attract the community, so it was odd that the half marathon is not better attended than it was.  Of course, the hills and long course may contribute to this.  And I am certain that the warmer than expected temperatures deterred some of the usual race day registrations for an event like this.  Also, the Youth Villages 10 Miler was held in Memphis on Saturday, so that event certainly took runners away from Doc Rock.

One major silver lining from this event is that I am now a little bit better prepared for the Country Music Half Marathon at the end of the month.  I know that it will be hot and hilly at that event, so getting in a run just that a couple weeks prior should be beneficial.

Thank you letter and bonus swag from Doc Rock

Thank you letter and bonus swag from Doc Rock

Update 5.19.14: Since posting this recap and discussing it with others, there has been more information made available.  The race organizers mailed out thank you letters to all the runners as well as a Doc Rock 13.1 decal!  In the thank you letter, there was one piece of interesting information shared.  Apparently next year’s event will have a new course, which must be in response to the course being a little long the last two years.  This was a very nice touch from race organizers.

Another Half Marathon This Weekend

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DOC-Rock_1040x800-620x400Originally, I was not going to run in another event until the Country Music Half Marathon at the end of the month, but an opportunity for another one presented itself this week.  Therefore, Saturday morning, I shall be running in the Doc Rock and Run Half Marathon in Jonesboro, AR.  It is for a good cause.  It is described on the website as follows:

The Doc Rock ‘N Run is hosted by the physicians of St. Bernards Medical Group and the physician band Doc Rock. The Race benefits the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at St. Bernards, the only Level III NICU in northeast Arkansas caring for premature infants as young as 32 weeks. Come make a big difference in a little life by running in the 1/2 marathon or 5K race on Saturday, and encourage your child to participate in the 1/2 marathon challenge with the 1 mile race on Sunday.

This will be the quickest turnaround for a race of this distance for me.  It will be interesting to see how my body reacts to a second half marathon in a week.  I feel confident that I will do just fine, and I am excited to try something new.

Midsouth Championship Half Marathon Recap

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This was the second of three races that I ran over the first weekend of November.  This was the first time that I have run in this event, which was my third half marathon since September 1, and second in thirteen days.  This also marks my third state to run a half marathon both all time and since September 1.  It is amazing to think that I have been able to do this.  Even more unbelievable is the fact that the last half marathons that I have run have been my fastest two!  And to be honest, I did not know what to expect from this small town half marathon, but I must say that I was pleasantly surprised.

The race is held at Wynne High School in Wynne, AR, which is about an hour from Memphis, which is one of the reasons that I signed up for the race.  I would not have to get a hotel room and I could just wake up early and travel to the race.  Also, the registration fee was only $27, which is by far the cheapest half marathon registration that I will ever find.  I have run 5K’s that have charged more than this!

Heading towards the finish

Heading towards the finish

I woke up and headed out to the race at 6:00 am.  I wanted to get to the event early since I was not able to go to the early packet pickup on Friday afternoon.  As I headed out, I pulled up the directions and realized that the race was a little further away than I expected, so my anxiety accelerated a little bit.  And my anxiety did not subside when several notices about road construction were posted on I-40.  Luckily, traffic was not bad this early in the morning, and I was actually able to make great time on my way to the race.

Much like the 4 Bridges event, this one race was quite cold with the temperature at 45 degrees when I got out of the truck.  At least I had a hoodie this time and was much better suited to battle the cold.  The line for the packet pickup was not too bad, and waiting until the hour before the race was not a detriment to my race.  A bonus to having the event at the local high school and the fact that the race was not huge was that participants could use the schools bathrooms with little to no lines.  Yep, a half marathon with indoor bathrooms and small lines!  There were also several port a potties, but most of us did not need visit these since we had the indoor options.

Someone was happy to see me!

Someone was happy to see me!

This was supposed to be my first half marathon without Susan.  At the St. Jude Half Marathons, she can drive around the course with her dad, a retired cop, to see me at various points.  Our hotel for the Tupelo 14.2 had a shuttle, so Susan did not have to leave with me at 4:00 am.  At 4 Bridges she had the ability to stay at her sister’s apartment near the finish line until I was close.  With this event, there was no such luxury, so I was prepared to run it alone.  However, as I was approaching the finish line, I saw Susan with our dog Beau!  It was a great to see them and completely unexpected.  She apparently was sad that she was not going to be there with me so she decided to head over to the race.  It was definitely a welcomed site.

I did not know how well I was going to run the event provided that I had run a race the night before, but I did not have any issues during my run.  I started strong, and a little faster than ideal, but I was able to get it under control before it detracted from my entire race.  After about five miles, I knew that I had a shot at my second straight PR, but I was not going to get ahead of myself.  I was simply going to run the best race that I possibly could.  I ended up with my second fastest race ever, which is not too shabby.  In fact, my last mile was my fastest of the entire race!  I was able to run mile thirteen at a pace of 8:55, which was my sixth sub 10:00 mile!  Miles eight, ten, and eleven were my weakest, but the were in the 10:00 range.

Midsouth Championship swag

Midsouth Championship swag

Swag: B+: All participants got a long-sleeved t-shirt that was very soft, some coupons, a shaving cream sample, and a medal that was a vast improvement over last year’s race according to a Google image search.  I was very happy with this year’s medal, a very colorful metal medal with some trees cut out of it.  From some of my conversations with race volunteers, they really hoped us runners could enjoy the trees changing colors along the course.  This was the inspiration behind their run.  There were aid stations at every mile with water and Gatorade, and on the way back, the stations also had bananas, orange slices, and pretzel sticks.  The post race meal was BBQ and ribs with all of the trimmings, but it was to be served at 11:00 am, and I did not want Susan and Beau to wait that long.  Too bad because it smelled outstanding.

Midsouth Championship Medal

Midsouth Championship Medal

Course: B+: It was on out and back course, starting by the high school, following some country roads, and finishing on the football field.  For University of Memphis fans, this was the football field that DeAngelo Williams played on in high school before breaking NCAA records at Memphis. The only downside was the cumulative mile along US 64 where we had to run on the should of the road as semis came down the highway.  This was a tight squeeze for runners going both ways, but no one had an issue with it to my knowledge.  And when we crossed the highway, there were cops directly traffic to help protect the runners.

Post race w/ my Beau

Post race w/ my Beau

Overall: A-: This was a well-organized event with some of the friendless volunteers that I have ever encountered.  The event was an insane value for $27 and well worth the trip over the river.  I would certainly be open to running this event again in the future.  This entire event reminded me of my rural West Tennessee hometown and that was a good thing.  Also, it does not hurt that this was my second fastest half marathon ever with an official finish time of 2:12:45!  So in the last thirteen days I have bested my previous best time by four plus minutes twice!  Is it the shoes?  This is a throw back to NBA Jam.

Rocking rash? This does not sound appetizing!

Rocking rash? This does not sound appetizing!

On the way home, we stopped at Tropical Smoothie Cafe for a quick bite to eat and a smoothie.  This trip only warrants a mention because of what was written on Susan’s smoothie.  She ordered a Rocking Raspberry, which was abbreviated to read Rocking Rash, or at least it looks like that to me!