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.

The Best Reason to be MIA

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I know, I know, I have been MIA for a LOOOOOONNNNNGGGGG time. I have kept running somewhat (I owe you 4 race reviews at minimum), but I have completely neglected this site. For this, I apologize, but I have a valid excuse. I really do.

todd

My long journey into fatherhood was finally realized a couple of weeks back, and I have been completely consumed/enamored/in awe of my little guy. It is amazing how different it feels to actually be a father rather than preparing to be a father. Everything you think you know is probably wrong, and all of the preparation for the event cannot adequately prepare you for the actual day.

RVP_3419

Honestly, once my son arrived, everything changed for me. My priorities were altered, my outlook on routine happenings was skewed, and it became abundantly clear that there is nothing more important in my life than providing for and taking care of him. Of course, I am certain that the majority of parents feel this way (I wish I could say all parents, but we know that this is not correct), but my feeling is actually heightened a bit because of the journey (more on that on a later date).

We have several other pictures, but I had to go with my two sports ones!

 

 

2015 Atlanta Braves Opening Day

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In what is becoming an annual tradition here, today is the day in which we celebrate the (should be considered) national holiday of Opening Day in MLB! This is the point where I usually write several paragraphs about how his is the year in which everything comes together and the Braves finally realize their potential. This is the year that the Braves make a deep run in October. This is the year their young talent fully matures and makes that next step. This could be the year that the Braves return to the World Series. Well, a funny thing happened between the last pitch of 2014 and this first pitch of 2015. The Braves went into full-fledged rebuild mold.

Julio Teheran is the Opening Day starter for your Atlanta Braves

Julio Teheran is the Opening Day starter for your Atlanta Braves

Gone are prodigal son Jason Heyward, the savior at second base Tommy La Stella, both Upton brothers, the best closer in the game Craig Kimbrel, feel good story Evan “El Oso Blanco” Gattis,  the 2014 Tommy John casualties Kris Medlen, Brandon Beachy, and Jonny Venters, the hired gun Ervin Santana (who is now gone from his new team for 80 games for using PED’s) and nearly every setup man in the bullpen from last year. Gone is the hopes of the Braves celebrating their 20 year anniversary of being World Champions with a repeat performance of this feat. Gone is the general manager to either praise or blame for the current state of the Braves. Gone will be several fans (not this one) upset and hurt by the moves. Rather, enter the pains of rebuilding.

Taken from the Braves Facebook page

Taken from the Braves Facebook page in 2013…  😦

The Braves did not just give away these players (well, Melvin Upton, Jr., they certainly tried and his transaction became the toughest, but more on this later). The fact was that the Braves team of the past few years was talented, but flawed. They did win 96 games and the NL East only TWO years ago! With a young, and mostly returning team. The originally projected Braves team for 2015 would have been decent. The problem is that is was unlikely that the Braves were going to be great, and then next year, there were going to be a massive exodus of talent due to the team’s corporate ownership, Liberty Media, and the bottom line. In reality, the looming exodus after 2015 did not have to happen, but was going to, regardless of what we fans think. And with the new park opening in 2017 (a subject for another day), the new front office decided to punt on the last two years at Turner Field and have hope for Sun Trust Park. So here we are, a team of misfits, scabs, and a couple of remaining stars from the past half decade, and a wounded fan base.

The Braves have certainly found a way to dominate the offseason chatter. They have actually done this for three consecutive years now. 2013 they signed the then BJ Upton to the largest free agent contract in team history, traded for his brother Justin, and had what many people, myself included, felt was the most talented outfield in the game. Ultimately we were wrong, but it was exciting and fun. 2014 saw several extensions for the rising young stars of the team. Freeman, Kimbrel, Simmons, Teheran, and Johnson signed huge extensions days after news of the new park was announced. The GM Frank Wren and Manager Fredi Gonzalez received contract extensions. Heyward had his arbitration years bought out, creating hop a longer extension was still an option. And after Medlen and Beachy had their right elbows fail them again, the Braves made a huge splash by signing Ervin Santana to save the rotation. The 2014 season did not cooperate. The hitters regressed, the pitching was solid, but not exceptional, and the team only won 79 games. A drop of 17 games with a very similar roster is troubling, but what if 2014, and not 2013, was the aberration?  A couple of moves could be made to bolster the roster, and look out MLB in 2015! Sadly, that is not the direction the team went.

Pic from MLB's Facebook page (2013)

Technically true! Pic from MLB’s Facebook page (2013)

The alarming strikeout rates, lack of power, and complete failure with runners in scoring position prompted a complete overhaul. Young second baseman Tommy La Stella was sent to the Cubs for a former Braves pitching prospect derailed by injuries. Heyward was sent along with primary setup man Jordan Walden to the St. Louis Cardinals, just so all my friends and family can enjoy their talents at my expense, for young pitching prospects. Justin Upton was moved out west to the Padres for more prospects, including one recovering from Tommy John surgery, which is the Braves way, of course. Bullpen arms David Carpenter and Chasen Shreve were sent to the Yankees for a former highly touted prospect returning from Tommy John surgery. Then El Oso Blanco was sent to the Astros for more prospects. Then yesterday, as everyone was preparing for a 2015 season that may or may not be good, the Braves pulled the trigger on another deal. The best closer in baseball was packaged with the worst contract in baseball and sent to the Padres for a couple of warm bodies for the outfield (one of which was immediately DFA’d) and a couple more intriguing prospects.

Heyward and Justin Upton were pending free agents, so moving them was rationalized simply by stating the obvious, they were gone after 2015 anyway. Sell now, and get max value. Gattis was a cheap power hitter, but really had limited options on the Braves roster due to rising catcher Christian Bethancourt, Freeman at first, and the scary prospect of him lumbering in the outfield. If MLB had the DH in both leagues, then maybe Gattis will still be in the middle of the Braves lineup, but they do not, so he is now in Houston. All the setup men are gone because bullpen arms are mostly expendable when you are not going to contend. La Stella played the wrong position and the Braves could get a high ceiling arm (who is now suspended for 80 games for PED’s…). Kimbrel is gone because a closer like him is a luxury and dumping him and his salary allowed for the Braves to also jettison the other Upton’s albatross of a contract while still getting impact prospects in return.

The Chop

The chop!

 

Whereas 2015, and probably 2016 are going to painful to watch, there is a plan in place. The Braves farm system went from the bottom five in baseball to the top five in the matter of months. Draft picks were acquired and a focus on scouting has returned. Even a greater nod to analytics has begun with the inclusion of Coppolella in the front office. Several veteran players were signed and even if half of the new pitching prospects realize their potential, the rotation will be scary good in the near future. Rebuilding sucks, but you know what else sucks, mediocrity. Year after year of being just good enough to contend, but ultimately not being good enough to excel is hard to endure. The string of recent first round exits and Braves postseason heartaches has not been fun. My Cardinals friends give me grief about the Braves only winning one World Series in the 90’s. All of that talent, and only one ring to show for it. I always respond with something about the Buffalo Bills or decades of losing in markets like Pittsburgh or the hell that was the 80’s for Braves fans. But the truth is that the 90’s do sting a bit. The 1991 and 1996 World Series were very winnable. The 1997 NLCS still haunts me. Even one more World Series win changes everything. If this rebuild is what it takes to get there, then so be it. I will still watch more than my fair share of Braves games this year, including this afternoon’s opener. I am honestly excited to see how this team does. The offense of the past few years has been painful to watch, so this new look team should at least be a little bit more exciting to watch. I could be wrong and this could be a callback to the 1980’s Braves with Freddie Freeman playing the modern day Dale Murphy.

I'm going to miss seeing this (photo from NBC)

I’m going to miss seeing this (photo from NBC)

So here is to another year of baseball! My team may not be favored to win it all, but wait ’til next year (in my best Cubs’ fan voice)!

Angels Game During Disneyland Half Weekend

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Another stadium marked off my 30 MLB park tour

Another stadium marked off my 30 MLB park tour

One of my non-running goals is to attend a baseball game at all 30 MLB stadiums.  This is not an original goal, but much like the 50 half marathons in 50 states goal, it is a great way to see the country.  Angels Stadium marked my fourth active MLB stadium to attend a game at, joining Turner Field, Busch Stadium (the third one), and Fenway Park.  I have also attended games at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium, the second Busch Stadium, and Riverfront Stadium, but those do not count on the 30 parks tour.

No ballgame is complete without a beer and a hot dog.

No ballgame is complete without a beer and a hot dog.

Going to an MLB game requires at least one beer and hot dog.  This trip lived up to this expectation, even if it was not the best meal to eat the night before a race.  Luckily it was before the 10K, and I did not overindulge in anything.

Panorama of Angels Stadium

Panorama of Angels Stadium

The game was between the top team teams in the AL West, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Oakland A’s.  The weeks prior to the game, it was looking like the game would potentially be for possession of first place in the division.  However, by August 29, the Angels had started to pull away in the division, but I was still able to watch two aces go at it.  Jon Lester was pitching for the A’s, and Jared Weaver for the Angels, and both pitched well.

Yes, this is a helmet full of nachos. No, I did not order these.

Yes, this is a helmet full of nachos. No, I did not order these.

The game ended 4-0 Angels, with home runs by Chris Iannetta and Albert Pujols.  Sadly, Mike Trout did not do anything SportsCenter worthy during the game, but it was still a good game.

T-Shirt giveaway from the game

T-Shirt giveaway from the game

Honestly, the stadium was better than I expected.  There were a ton of food options, and while the stadium is one of the older ones in the league, it holds up well.  The organization does it best to make the game day experience a fun one, and the fans were much more rabid than I was expecting. The helmet nachos were very popular, partially because at $16.50, they were a good value by ballpark standards.  I cannot imagine eating all of those nachos in one sitting.

With my fourth active stadium marked off the list, I have no clue which one will be next, but it probably will not be until next season that I will be able to travel to a new stadium.

Disneyland Half Marathon Recap

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Sunday was the 9th annual Disneyland Half Marathon.  The race marked my completion of the Dumbo Double Dare as well as the Coast to Coast Challenge.  It was my fourth state to ever run a half marathon in as well as my sixth half this year and eleventh overall. It will be several months before I even have an opportunity to cross off another state, so at least I made this one count!

Disneyland Half Marathon Post Race Pic

Disneyland Half Marathon Post Race Pic

I arrived to Anaheim on Friday afternoon and was a little worried about tackling the expo.  I had heard horror stories from last year’s expo and no one wants to be stressed too much from an expo.  I am happy to report that this year’s expo was very easy to navigate and the crowds were no worse than any other large event that I have attended in the past.  If you entered from the main parking lot for the Disneyland Hotel, there were plenty of signs to show you where to go and I did not have to wait long for my race materials.  I browsed some of the vendors, but actually did not purchase anything.  Susan, who did not make the trip with me, did purchase some items for me online because she felt that I needed something to celebrate my finishes beyond the medals.  I ate lunch at the Tangaroa Terrace and I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of options that the quick service place had.  I enjoyed a teriyaki chicken sandwich and some sweet potato fires.   After the expo, I went to my hotel to rest and wait to head over the Angels Stadium for the game, but I will post separately about that event.

I previously posted about the Disneyland 10K from Saturday, and after a morning of resting, I headed over to Downtown Disney to walk around and eat.  I decided to go to a movie at the AMC theater there, and realized that I must not be the only person there for the race weekend that decided not to buy park tickets.  Finding a place to eat was next to impossible, and while I waited, I was very happy that I had snacked at Wetzels Pretzels earlier in the day.  I finally was able to have dinner at Earl of Sandwich, which was another excellent quick service option.  The chipotle chicken avocado sandwich and mac ‘n cheese were excellent pre-race carbs and I was very happy that I was able to abstain from sampling some of the excellent looking sweets. After dinner, I returned to my hotel to relax and watch some football, and hopefully cool off.

Race morning was another 3:30 am wake-up call.  My hotel was about a mile from the start line and this walk to start provided ample opportunity to get loose for the race.  Surprisingly, once I arrived at the starting area, there still were no lines for the port-a-potties! No lines are always a welcomed sight!  I was in corral F, which meant that I was expecting to start a little after 6:00 am.  Thankfully, they were releasing corrals two at a time and I was on the course just after 5:45 am.  The half marathon course was certainly more congested than the 10K course, but again, not as bad as I was mentally preparing for.  It was another hot and humid (by California standards) morning. I was sweating early, but I was not as uncomfortable as I would have been if the event was held here in Memphis.

Disneyland Half Marathon posing with Walt and Mickey

Disneyland Half Marathon posing with Walt and Mickey

The course had some highlights, but by mile 4, you are outside of the park, and when you return around mile 12, you are running on the outskirts of the parks and not near any attractions.  They did do a great job of providing photo opportunities in the park miles.  I took my photo with the Walt and Mickey statue in front of the castle as well as with Paradise Pier behind me.  The one character stop that I really wanted to get a picture at was with Darth Vader and a couple of Storm Troopers.  The line was insanely long and I skipped it.  I immediately regretted this decision.  Outside of the park, there were several marching bands and dance groups for entertainment.  There were also over 350 classic cars around mile 7 that provided a nice change of scenery from the road course. Mile 9 had us running through Angels Stadium, which was awesome.  Sadly, my hands and phone were not cooperating due to sweat, so I was unable to get any pictures on the field.  The finish was hectic and was probably the narrowest portion of the course.  The awarding of the finisher’s medals was very organized and there were no issues getting each of my three medals.

Course: A: The park portion was great, and the inclusion of Angels Stadium helped salvage the rest of the course.  You also run by the Honda Center, but you do not go in it, so it is more just a building than an awesome landmark.  It was very flat, and in better weather conditions, I imagine that the course is very fast as well.  In fact, before the race started, the announcers were talking about how this course was the fastest of the runDisney half marathon courses and I believe it.

Disneyland Half Marathon Medal

Disneyland Half Marathon Medal

Swag: A: The Disneyland Half medal has changed very little over the past few years, and I am perfectly fine with that.  The script D and castle look great as a medal.  I enjoyed the retro look of the shirt and ribbon as well.  The post race refreshments were exactly the same as the 10K the previous day.  I guess they had a large food box packing party the week preceding the events.

Disneyland Half Marathon Swag

Disneyland Half Marathon Swag

Overall: A: I enjoyed this race, and did not find that the crowds were too overwhelming.  The only issue that I had was with my timing chip.  For some reason, it stopped working after the 5K split of the half.  I have emailed track shack and they are in the process of updating my race time, so sometime next week, I should have an official finishing time.  This is the second timing chip issue that I have had during a half marathon and I need to figure out why, I suppose.

Dumbo Double Dare Medal

Dumbo Double Dare Medal

Dumbo Swag: A: The shirt is better than the medal, but both are very good.  The medal has a lot of detail and is thinner than other medals that I have. That is the trade-off for the colors and details, I guess.

Dumbo Double Dare Swag

Dumbo Double Dare Swag

Coast to Coast Swag: A+: Medal only, but it is an awesome medal.  It is very heavy and has great detail. I know that it does not really change from year to year, but it is one of my favorite medals, and definitely the best of the weekend to me.  It is the medal that I chose to wear around the most after the event.  I wore all my medals briefly after the event, but the clanging around scratched up my half marathon medal somewhat, so I stuck to one medal.

2014 Coast to Coast Medal

2014 Coast to Coast Medal

After the race, I had to get cleaned up and head to the airport.  Since this was a solo trip, I decided to fly back the day of the race rather than laying around in a hotel for another night.  I did, however, hit a Southern California landmark that could not be missed on any trip out west, In-N-Out Burger!  After 19.3 miles, I think that I earned that greasy goodness, and I enjoyed every last bite, as well as my Neapolitan milkshake! It was a great way to cap off my weekend.

You just finished 19.3 miles, now what are you going to do? I'm going to In-N-Out Burger!

You just finished 19.3 miles, now what are you going to do? I’m going to In-N-Out Burger!

I had a great experience at this race weekend, and would do it again.  Maybe next time I will be able to run in the Avengers or Star Wars Half race weekend, with a celebratory In-N-Out trip, of course.

It’s Braves Opening Day!

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Back to my regularly scheduled running blog later, but today is Opening Day in baseball and that takes top priority.  As you can probably tell from my random posts, I am an avid fan of the Atlanta Braves.  This has left me disappointed most seasons, especially in the playoffs, but they are still my team.  And on the first day of the year, everyone is in first place!  Unless you are in the NL West where the Dodgers have already played three games.

Hoping for a successful year!

Hoping for a successful year!

The spring was a roller coaster for the Braves this year.  It started with Braves fans despondent because the team made no off-season moves of note while losing Tim Hudson and Brian McCann to free agency.  But then, during the first couple of weeks of spring training, the Braves started locking up much of their young core of players to long-term deals, which has been unheard of in the past few years, and things began to look up!  Then Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy hurt their arms, needing their second Tommy John surgery, which does not have a good track record for a return to success.  The Braves have the dubious honor of leading the majors in Tommy John surgeries and they added three more (two for sure) to that total this spring.  That is why the Braves opening day rotation is not quite what us fans had expected.  Well, that and another pitcher having his urethra operated on in the off-season.  So the Aaron Harang era is about to begin in Atlanta!  These injuries also led the Braves to sign the best available free agent pitcher, Ervin Santana, blowing up the projected budget in the process. Of course, blowing up the budget is different for Atlanta than say the Yankees, because at the projected Opening Day budget around $111 million, the Braves are still ranked 14th in baseball in payroll.

Not a chart you want to be leading

Not a chart you want to be leading

But today is Opening Day, a day for optimism and excitement.  We finally get to see our favorite teams on the field again and at least for one day, they all have a chance to make it special.  162 games is a long time, and many things can and will happen.  Last year, the Braves were given zero chance of winning the division and by the end of April, they had already buried the rest of the division, so it can happen.  If the young core of Heyward, Freeman, Kimbrel, Teheran, Simmons, and Justin Upton continue their growth, a long with Gattis replacing McCann and Uggla and BJ Upton remember how to play baseball, even at a replacement level, this year still can be special.

Julio Teheran is the 2014 Opening Day starter for your Atlanta Braves

Julio Teheran is the 2014 Opening Day starter for your Atlanta Braves

I spent more time yesterday watching Braves highlights from years past than I care to admit.  I watched Brooks Conrad’s walk off grand slam from 2010, both of Chipper’s walk off home runs against the Phillies in 2012, Bream’s slide in the 1992 NLCS, David Justice’s solo shot in Game 6 of the 1995 World Series to give the Braves their only World Series championship in Atlanta.  In fact, while watching Justice’s home run, I noticed the one and only Bill F’n Murray in the stands with Ted Turner.  Murray is a Chicago guy and I believe a Cubs fan, but it was still cool seeing him there when then only celebrity I remember from the 1990’s Braves was Jeff Foxworthy.

Turner and Murray, 1995 World Series (photo from Sports Illustrated)

Turner and Murray, 1995 World Series (photo from Sports Illustrated)

So I think that the Braves should bring back Murray to throw out the first pitch of a game and maybe channel some Groundhog Day (yes, I went there, and yes, I am sorry) magic into the organization because October 28, 1995, would be a mighty fine day to relive.  Well, expect for one minor detail.  This is the only Braves post season game that I have missed in my entire life!  Yep, the biggest game in Atlanta Braves history and I missed it because my parents made me go to a Tim McGraw concert!  This was before the age of smartphones and I sat there, in my Chipper Jones jersey, nervously waiting for score updates anywhere that I could get them.  I was even interviewed by a local radio station that was doing a remote from the concert.  They could not believe that I was there instead of watching the game.  But I was 13, and did not have much say in the matter.  This night will haunt me for the rest of my life!  And of course, there is no Tim McGraw song presently on my iPhone.

Pic from MLB's Facebook page (2013)

Pic from MLB’s Facebook page (2013)

Sadly, I am at work today, so I cannot watch the game, but I will be following along on my phone and hopefully my 1 o’clock clients will leave quickly so I can return to my office and listen to the game.  Despite the injuries, I still have high hopes for this season.  I still feel that the Braves will win over 90 games and make the playoffs.  Maybe a year full of doubters and pundits claiming that the Dodgers, Cardinals, Yankees, Nationals, Giants, Red Sox, and Tigers are obviously better teams will help the Braves come out of no where (as much as a defending division winner can) like the Red Sox did last year.  Who knows, but it is baseball season once again, and that is always a good thing.

Weekly Recap

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Another week of running is in the books and I am rapidly approaching my next half marathon!

Monday: I did some light core work after class, but not enough to be considered a full-blown workout.  I also had quite a bit of reading for class, so I focused more on that.

Tuesday: Early morning four miler.  It was a little warm, but not too bad.  The rest of the day was my typical work then school format.

Wednesday: I did not workout because I was finishing up my third paper due for my Wednesday night class.  The professor gave us the night off of class to work on the paper and I wanted to make sure that the paper was written at a substantial level.

Thursday: I opted for extra sleep and one last tweak of my paper, so I ran after work.  It was rather hot, but the run felt good.  Afterwards, we tried the new Mellow Mushroom by our house.  It just opened, but the service was TERRIBLE and waiting 50 minutes for a small pizza is really unacceptable.  Especially when you order three small pizzas and get three pizzas in three different sizes.

Boo, the Dodgers won.  Kris Medlen had another rough postseason start.

Friday: I did the Spartan Ab 100 again, and I might finally be remembering the entire routine without constantly checking my iPhone.

Yay, the Braves won!  Mike Minor might be the ace of the staff again!

Saturday: I ran two races, the Tap ‘N Run Memphis and the Memphis Zombie Hunt 5K.  It might have been three, but Susan was leaving for the beach, so I opted to see her off.  I will do individual race recaps sometime this week.  I will say, however, that the weather was drastically different for the two races, and I actually finished seventh in my age group for the Zombie Hunt 5K!

Memphis Zombie Hunt 5K

Memphis Zombie Hunt 5K

Tap 'N Run Medal

Tap ‘N Run Medal

Also, were there any two teams in the country that lost in a more heart breaking way than the Memphis Tigers and Tennessee Volunteers did?  Memphis lost two fumbles for TD’s in the last two minutes of the game, one at least should have been overturned by replay, and then the would be tying kickoff return TD was negated by a rather weak holding call.  Tennessee, huge underdogs, had a late lead in the fourth quarter, but allowed Georgia to tie it to force OT.  Then they fumbled the ball out of the end zone while trying to score the go ahead TD.  The Vols might be cursed.  The Smokey Grey uniforms looked good, but they should probably match the helmets to them in the future.

Sunday: I ran the longest distance of my life by completing fifteen miles!  It was not as great of a long run as my last one, but I completed it and that is all that matters.  I am building towards the WDW Marathon and the mileage will certainly help me for the Four Bridges Half Marathon in two weeks.  The weather was chilly and overcast at the beginning of my run, and by the end three hours later, it was hot and sunny.  I got a little bit of a sunburn, but I maintained hydration throughout.

Damn, the Dodgers beat the hell out of the Braves.  This was quite a depressing game.  There is still hope though!  Just win the next two!

The Broncos and Cowboys game was the game of the year in the NFL, and of course the Cowboys came up short due to a Tony Romo interception.  He played amazingly until the last drive and was on his way to the NFL single game passing record.  Then he Romo’d and the Broncos won 51-48.  Watching the Cowboys builds character, I suppose.

The Titans really need Jake Locker to return from his hip injury.  They looked terrible on offense without him.

This was the first week since the end of Breaking Bad, so there was a void in TV, but at least The Walking Dead returns next Sunday night.

Boo

Weekly Recap

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My updates have not been coming at an acceptable pace, this I know.  I am going to try to do a better job of writing this week. I think that I have finally gotten into a rhythm with class, work, my personal life, and running.  So to get back into the swing of things, let me catch you up on my last week.

Monday: I did not run, but I did one of the Spartan Race Workouts of the Day that focused on my core.  I did some side crunches, planks, pushups, bicycles, and such for about half an hour.  Focusing on my core will be vital moving forward for my marathon aspirations.

Tuesday: I woke up early and went for the first run of the week.  I completed 3.81 miles slower than I was expecting, but the heat and humidity was insane.  At 5:30 am, the temperature was already over 80 and the humidity was close to this number.  Can it be December yet?  Also, Sons of Anarchy returned and while it is not as good as Breaking Bad or several other dramas on TV now, it still is one that I am rather addicted to.  Hopefully season six is better than season five was.

Wednesday: My first grad school paper was due and I am very eager to see how I did on it.  It has been a considerable amount of time since I graduated from college and I am having to learn a new style of writing.  I am cautiously optimistic about how I did.  After class, I was mentally zapped, so I watched It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and The League, and did no workout.

Thursday: Another early morning run in high heat and humidity.  My pace was a little better and I logged 4.24 miles.  After work, I rotated homework for my Monday night class and some TRX.  It was not my best TRX session ever, but it was better than nothing.

Friday: I ran in the Cooper Young Festival 4 Miler (my recap will be posted sometime this week) and I had a great race.  I beat my previous four mile race PR by about four minutes!  The weather was great and the race was well organized.  I will leave it at this until I post my full recap.

Saturday: No workout, but I did do quite a bit of walking at the Cooper Young Festival with Susan and one of her friends.  We did not buy much, but I did score one of my favorite shirts of all-time!  Susan and I had seen a picture of the shirt before, but acquiring it proved to be quite elusive, but I knew it would be at the festival and it was my mission to find it.  After the festival, we went to Local on the Square, where I had some amazing chicken and waffles.  College football was not kind to the Tennessee Vols or Memphis Tigers, but Susan’s Ole Miss Rebels looked good against Texas.

This is such a great shirt!

This is such a great shirt!

Sunday: Another early morning run, but since I am doing the Jeff Galloway plan, it was a short one.  However, I really should not have done a run at all, but only running three days a week, especially on the short weeks is hard to do.  That might change as my mileage ramps up.  It was a cooler morning than my last couple of early morning runs, which was greatly appreciated.  And it made my 4.28 miles very pleasant.  My neighbor did deliver some bad news when he said that someone tried to break into his house this week.  Wednesday around 7:00 pm, his daughters caught two minute lurking around their front window.  This same night, someone knocked very aggressively on our door, but Susan did not answer. Having a loud dog probably helped urge the people to move along.

Not a single team that I root for won today, so that is a bummer, but hopefully the Braves can win at least two of their next three games so they can clinch the NL East in Washington.

I am not sure my heart can handle two more weeks of Breaking Bad if they are going to be this intense!  The show is without a shadow of a doubt the best show in TV history.  I would also like to thank the NFL for the one hour weather delay that perfectly coincided with Breaking Bad tonight.

Weekly Recap

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I usually try to post this update on Sundays, but yesterday was quite busy for me, so here it goes a day late.

My last week of Tupelo 14.2 high intensity training is now over.  Now all that is left is is a couple of weeks of tapering and then it will finally be race day.  It has been quite a humid week here in Memphis, and very uncomfortable for the longest run of my training.

Monday: I went for my run after work, so the heat I encountered was completely my fault, but the humidity was insane that morning and I needed the extra rest.  The first half mile or so, I ran with my dog.  He is a miniature labradoodle, and I never run hard for more than this distance with him.  After dropping him off, I hit my normal course and had a good run.

Tuesday: No run, but I did a forty-five minute TRX routine.  I rotated through the upper body, core, and lower body exercises.  I really wish I had a place in my yard that I could suspend my TRX straps overhead so I would have the full gambit of exercises at my disposal, but I still can get a great workout in regardless.  I am, however, considering getting a pullup bar that you can put up in a door frame so I can work on doing something that I have never been able to do in my entire life, a pullup.  I feel that it will be very beneficial for my upcoming Spartan Race.

Wednesday:  I was lazy and did not get out of bed for a morning run.  After work, my in-laws decided to take Susan and I out for an early birthday dinner.  We went to Side Street Grill in Midtown for their steak night.  Steak night is a fantastic deal, with two steaks, two sides, two salads, and a shared appetizer for $28!  And we are not talking sirloins here, but rather filet mignon in generous proportions.  It very well may be the best deal in town.

After dinner, I did not feel like going for a run, but I did not want to have an off day completely.  I tried the Spartan Workout of the Day from a couple of weeks ago called the Spartan Ab 300.  The workout goes as follows:

  • 15 Crunches
  • 30 Bicycles
  • 30 Back Scratchers
  • 30 Rotating Crunches
  • 15 Leg Lowers
  • 30 Scissor Kicks
  • 30 Side Crunches
  • 30 Bicycles
  • 15 Crunches
  • 30 Back Scratchers
  • 15 Leg Lowers
  • 30 Side Crunches

This was a very comprehensive routine, but there was quite a bit of a learning curve for the majority of the exercises, and the next time I do it, there will be quite a bit more speed to it.  I will say that my soreness factor was not what I was expecting, so I do feel the pauses to verify my technique was a part of that.

Thursday: I woke up early and finished four and a half miles on a brutal morning.  At 5:30 am, it was 80 degrees, the dew point was 75, and the humidity was at 88%.  Welcome to Memphis in August!  Actually, I guess I should be thankful since there has not been an official day at 100 degrees or higher here in Memphis yet, which feels like a record.  I was drenched after my run and was definitely feeling the wrath of the weather when I returned home.  All I can say is at least I was not running in the blistering sun, so it could have always been worse.

Friday:  It was Susan’s birthday, so I did not workout.  I opted to spend the day with her.  I took a long lunch and met her at work so I could have lunch with her, I gave her some birthday presents, we went to dinner, and then we watched a movie.  I was going to take her to a movie, but she wanted to stay at home and watch Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.  It was her birthday and her choice, so I can no longer say that I am in the minority of the world to never see or read any of the Harry Potter stories.  Oh well.

A Memphis institution

A Memphis institution

Saturday: Honestly, I should have gone for my long run, but we had already made plans to meet some friends for breakfast at a local institution, The Arcade.  Susan has lived here her whole life and I have lived here for about a third of mine (wow, I have been here that long?), yet we had never tried the place out.  I will say that after eating there, the place is worth the hype.  I had what is called the “Eggs Redneck” which is biscuits and sausage smothered in gravy with hash browns and eggs.  It was not the healthiest meal of my week, but it was very delicious.  After breakfast, Susan and I went to the farmers market around the corner.  The place was packed with vendors and shoppers, and there were some local food trucks there as well.  We bought some locally made hot sauce, a pound of triple stripe, some tomatoes, olive spread, and hummus, which led to a fantastic grilled dinner later in the day.

This is what we came home with.

This is what we came home with.

I could not stand the thought of two days in a row without a workout, so I did another TRX routine.  This was a shorter one, and I finished with my last set a mere twenty-five minutes after I began my warmup routine.  It is very convenient to have the ability to do TRX at home.  But this convenience also eliminates any excuse that I might have about finding time to exercise.  After my TRX routine, I mowed my yard, so that hour plus of pushing that mower around the yard can be attributed to being active as well.

A great place to spend a Saturday morning.

A great place to spend a Saturday morning.

Sadly, the Atlanta Braves incredible win streak came to an end with a wild pitch in the top of the ninth inning against the lowly Miami Marlins.  The Braves had rattled off fourteen consecutive wins, and opened up a commanding fifteen and a half game lead on the Washington Nationals!  It has been a fantastic couple of weeks of Braves baseball, and hopefully this will be parlayed into a long October run!

Sunday: I did not choose well for the day and time for my long run for the week.  I woke up at 5:30 am, but the weather outside was already soup like.  The humidity sat at 87%, the dew point was 73.9 degrees, and the temperature sat at an even 80 degrees, so I knew I was in for a challenge.  I took a very long time to get prepped for my run, trying to get psyched for the weather, and by the time I hit the sidewalk, I was already sweating.  I thought that my day, and possibly the next couple of months was over just after mile three.  Memphis is a city with numerous trees which is awesome for aesthetics and shade, but can be brutal on my allergies and the local sidewalks.  My allergies were mostly in check this morning, but I was not being as mindful as I should have been to the ever changing topography on the sidewalk.  I came down very awkwardly on my left foot, causing it and my ankle to pop very loudly and roll inwards.  I let out a string of expletives and thought the worst.  It took me a couple of minutes to be able to put any weight on it again.  After a few more minutes of hobbling around on it, the pain subsided enough for me to take off once again, albeit at a much slower and controlled pace.  By the time I reached mile five, there was no more pain in my foot or ankle, which made me extremely happy.  I kept sluggishly pushing forward in the hot and humid air until mile eight, when the skies opened up and started pouring some much appreciated cold rain upon me.  This lasted for about two and half miles, and they were the fastest two and a half miles that I ran all day!  I only had three negative splits for the day, and they were miles eight. nine, and twelve.  Thank goodness for that rain!  Not only was it refreshing, it also gave me reassurance that my recent lackluster times are more weather related than fitness related.  I ran a total of 13.11 miles on Sunday, and since that is a half marathon distance, I used it for a virtual race that I had registered for.

The Walking Dead Run Medal

The Walking Dead Run Medal

The race was The Walking Dead Run, and I only registered for it because the medal company made an error in the color of the race medals, so they were redoing several of them.  The race organizer was trying to get rid of the extra medals, and was asking for a $10 donation to their race charity.  I love the show The Walking Dead, and I actually like the incorrect medals better than the correct ones, so I pledged my $10.  I will say though, that unless a race blows me away in the next few months, that this is my second to last virtual run for the foreseeable future.  I am sure Susan will be happy with this.  I mean, I have to start saving for Disney in January and finalize which races I want to run next year, so the extra capital would be great.

My friends and I play trivia at a local bar on Tuesday nights.  It is an excuse to get out of the house for a couple of hours a week, and an easy way to make a few dollars for our tabs each week.  Each week, the winners get a $50 gift card to the bar, second gets $20, and third gets $10.  Since May, our team has amassed a little of $600 in bar cash, which definitely puts us in the black for our trips there each Tuesday night.  And twice a year, there is a tournament of the area bars that play trivia through Challenge Entertainment.  Three years ago we placed second in the area tournament and netted $1,000.  Now, second would land us $5,000, and first place gets $10,000!  Last night we had our first semifinal round and we placed seventh for the night.  We could have won last night since we finished twelve points behind first, got the final answer right, but wagered zero points.  We did that because there were no prizes on the line last night and as long as we finished in the top twenty, we would move to the next round.

Best show on TV

Best show on TV

After trivia, I immediately went home and fired up my DVR to catch the premier episode of the new, and final season of Breaking Bad.  It is easily the best show on TV and very intense.  It is one of the few shows that I will watch live on TV and if I miss it live, I have to avoid Twitter and Facebook until I get to watch it.  I will not give any spoilers, but last night did not disappoint one bit!  I do not know what the outcome will be for Walter White will be, but watching his evolution over five plus seasons has been staggering.  There are only seven weeks left in his story, and certainly several twists yet to come.  Can it already be 8:00 pm on next Sunday night yet?

Platinum Sombrero Race Recap

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Here is the overdue race recap for my very first attempt at hosting a virtual run.  I have constantly updated my blog with Platinum Sombrero 5K information and I know several of you thought I only had a blog for this event, I know Susan did.  Well, the event has come and gone, and this will be one of my last posts about PS5K.  You can find further information here if you missed any of the prior posts.  I learned quite a bit from this experience and will be able to use this new-found knowledge on my next virtual event.  The feedback that I have seen has been positive and I truly hope that everyone had as much fun participating in this event as I did coordinating it.  Susan joked that she was going to make one of those large, fake checks for me to present to St. Jude.  Now that would be awesome!

The Cause:

Another picture that is not mine, but rather St. Jude's

Another picture that is not mine, but rather St. Jude’s

I chose St. Jude Children’s Hospital to be the charity of choice for this event for several reasons.  First, I am running the St. Jude Half Marathon here in Memphis again this year.  The race has an option to run as a St. Jude Hero, and actually, all early registrants were required to be heroes.  My fundraising minimum was $500, so instead of asking family and friends for donations, I wanted to be a little more proactive.  Second, St. Jude is not a cheap place to operate, but they never charge their patients a dime for treatment.  This is no easy feat when your daily operating cost is $1.8 million!  I broke down the costs and benefits in a previous post.  Third, I live in Memphis, and St. Jude is probably the most positive thing going for this city.  Therefore, sharing this wonderful place with others felt like my civic duty.   And fourth, I was involved with St. Jude fundraising through the Up ‘Til Dawn program in college.  This involved quite a bit of patient interaction and several tours of the St. Jude facility.  After one tour of the hospital, you cannot help but want to raise money for these children.  Thus far, we have raised $709.77 for St. Jude!  This money is the product of $1,250 in race registration fees and one $40 donation from a very kind race participant!  The number can go up a little bit since Lock Laces has agreed to donate 20% of all sales using the promo code KYLEJUDE.  This promo code is also good for free shipping, so shop away!  The promotion is good until August 13, 2013.

The Swag:

I had to post this pic!

I had to post this pic!

There are countless virtual races being hosted out there and I wanted mine to stand out.  Therefore I worked tirelessly to get as many top-notch sponsors for this race as I could.  I wanted to reach as many people as I possibly could for St. Jude.  And since I had a baseball theme, I knew that I was not advertising to as broad of a fan base as I would with a Star Wars or Harry Potter them might do.  Also, it seems that the vast majority of virtual run participants are female (more on this in a little bit), so I had to find ways to reach them.  I ended up securing twenty-nine race sponsors for the event!  I honestly thought that I would be able to get six or seven sponsors, so it just goes to show you the power of hard work and a good cause!

Look at all that race swag!

Look at all that race swag!

With the medals and all of the swag that each race participant received, every participant ended up with more products than their original $25 registration fee could purchase!  In fact, several race participants eclipsed the $75 worth of swag plateau!  All race participants received a Road ID coupon, Banjee wrist wallet, KT Tape sample, Climb On! skin product sample, Ion reflective iron-on patch, one month subscription to Bulu Box, and an awesome race medal.  I also gave away had seven $15 Road ID gift cards, five Today’s Miles tech shirts, four Armpockets, one Trigger Point foam roller, one Nathan Quick Draw Plus water bottle, three Polar Bottle water bottles, two Headsweats hats, one pair of Pro Compression socks, two pairs of SL3S compression socks, three pairs of Balega socks, two pairs of Zensah socks, one FlipBelt, one SPI Belt, one medal hanger from Running On The Wall, two cases of Zola coconut water, six Bic Bands, two Sweaty Bands, ten Run Guard products, two Cyclone Cups, ten pairs of Lock Laces, and one Energy Bits sample pack!  Energy Bits, Lock Laces, Spriggsville, Hydrapak, Headsweats, Fuelbelt,  and Glimmer Gear all created discount codes for race participants, which can be found here.

Finalized race medal

Finalized race medal

I could not have been happier with how the race medal turned out.  I contacted the fine folks at Crown Awards, told them exactly what I wanted, and they nailed it!  I did not have to do any tweaks or changes.  The medal they designed was even better than what I had designed in my head.  I was nervous that the sombrero on a baseball was not going to work out, but there is no doubt what is conveyed in this medal.  I hope that everyone likes this medal as much as I do.

I also was able to get some fan packs and other materials from numerous MLB teams since this was a baseball themed race after all.  It was very interesting to see what each team would and would not donate for the event, and I am generally surprised by the number of teams that did not respond to my requests.  I would like to thank the Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Arizona Diamondbacks, Houston Astros, Minnesota Twins, Chicago Cubs, , Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox, St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and Seattle Mariners for sending fan packs to be used as race swag.  Toronto Blue Jays and Oakland Athletics would have sent something, but it required me to send them a self address, stamped envelope, and since there were no race participants that listed these two teams as their favorite team, I did not bother sending in the requests.  I did send in the request to the New York Yankees, but as of this date, I still have not received their fan pack.  I am sorry Yankee fans.

I also based the race bibs on the favorite team for the race participant.  The color of the race number, and the number itself reflected your team.  I wanted to get very creative with the design, but I decided not to push any copyright issues and played it safe.  I started on race numbers with the team’s retired numbers, and then moved onto the biggest stars currently on their team.  For example, the Baltimore fans got race bibs with an orange number eight (Cal Ripken, Jr.) and an orange number five (Brooks Robinson).  I also did my best not to double up on race numbers, but this was easier said than done.

The Participants:

Where yall were from

Where y’all were from

There could not have been a race without any race participants, so I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to each and every one of you.  There were fifty total race participants, including myself, and the vast majority of the country was represented in the race field.  As you can tell from the map above, we had participants from Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, West Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, New York, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Washington, Utah, Nevada, California, and Hawaii.  I was quite surprised with some of the states that were represented, especially having multiple participants from Hawaii and North Dakota! I was also shocked by the gender disparity in the participants.  The final count was forty females to only ten males!  I would have never guessed that prior to the event.  We also had at least four groups of mother and son teams run the event together, and one mother daughter race group, which is awesome!

Registration started off very slow, and I was getting discouraged, especially with the amount of work I had put in, but by late May, it was obvious that this thing was going to sell out!  Sadly, I had already ordered the medals or I would have tried to bump this event to one hundred participants.  I am still getting emails and Facebook messages about any race openings.

The race ended up having fifteen MLB teams represented by their fans, which is good for half of all of MLB.  I wish I could have given MLB swag to each participant, but with these splits, this was not possible.  The Atlanta Braves led the way with thirteen fans participating (go Bravos)!  The second most represented team was the Boston Red Sox with six, then it was the St. Louis Cardinals with four.  The Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, and New York Yankees had three fans apiece, and the Baltimore Orioles, Colorado Rockies, and Minnesota Twins came in next with two fans apiece.  The Chicago White Sox, New York Mets, San Diego Padres, Cleveland Indians, Miami Marlins, and Seattle Mariners all had one loyal fan in the Platinum Sombrero 5K!

The Race:

Being that this was a virtual race, you could run it on any day that you wanted to run it.  It was officially scheduled for July 13, 2013, and know that several people, including myself, ran it then.  This date also happened to coincide with the MLB All-Star Game 5K, which I guess they started to hear the good publicity for my event and wanted to piggy back off of it!  From the reports that I have gotten, the race went well for everyone.  Some completed it on an elliptical, some on a treadmill, some braved this brutal summer heat, and some had to break up the distance due to injury.  It was great to hear how many participants got out there and ran the race, with their race bibs nonetheless!