Staying Active in the Ice

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Currently, Memphis and much of the mid-south is experiencing some intense ice coverage, which limits what can be done. I currently do not have a gym membership, but I can go to the student rec center when it is open. But, of course, with this ice, comes school closings, and thus, the student rec center is not an option. Likewise for boot camp since it follows the University of Memphis’ decision to cancel classes and activities or not. I could try my hand at running along the streets, but with my propensity to fall, that seems like a huge gamble. Especially with the Mercedes Half Marathon coming up this Sunday. Therefore, I must find ways to be active within the confines of my house.

We may see a couple of these on the Memphis roads.

We may see a couple of these on the Memphis roads.

Last night, Susan suggested that I try an interactive program called GoNoodle that they use at her school. It is a way for students to learn while being active. The learning fractions was not of my concern, but the activities were. I did a combination of indoor running, Zumba, yoga, and calisthenics. It was a better workout than I was expecting, and it was a great way to keep moving.

TRX-Banner

Tonight, I am going to do some TRX and other body weight exercises. TRX is always a quick and easy way to stay active at the house, so if this ice maintains for a few more days, I should be covered. I should be able to reach the end of my ice induced hibernation without gaining an obscene amount of weight.

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Mississippi Blues Half Marathon Recap

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Saturday was the first race, and first half marathon of 2015, the Mississippi Blues Half Marathon, for myself. Susan and I (she did not run, but tagged along for moral support ans see family friends) traveled down to Jackson, MS for a race that I have heard quite a bit about. Having family friends in Jackson as well as its proximity to Memphis makes traveling there for races very tempting. It is always great to be able to drive to an out-of-town race without missing work and not needing a hotel room.

For 2015, the race was chosen to be a part of the Marathon Maniacs and Half Fanatics reunion, along with the First Light Marathon in Mobile, AL. The two races even have a Back to Back Challenge for runners that want to participate in both events. While tempting to tackle both events, I decided it was not financially prudent this year. I will be running in Alabama next month anyway, so I just enjoyed the festivities in Jackson.

Start Line

Taken from the MS Blues Facebook page

 

The race was honestly my toughest half marathon to date for various reasons. One, the course is tough. It is very hilly, even if none of the hills are monstrous. The elevation gained and lost is completely manageable, you just need to train for it. Two, it was cold. Really f’n cold, especially for us southern folks. At the start of the race, the temperature was 25 degrees, and it felt much colder than that. We froze while waiting to start. Three, my training was not quite adequate enough. Since the St. Jude Half during the first week of December, my longest run has been five miles. I was not as prepared for this race as I should have been, but I was thankfully able to finish, in the upright position for my sixteenth half marathon!

The race itself was very well-organized, with a clearly marked course, lots of support staff, information shared efficiently, and a dedication to its theme that makes you want to return in the future. The national anthem was played on a steel guitar to open the race, and every aspect of the race reflected the blues. For any runners staying in town on Saturday night, there was a race organized Blues Crawl in local restaurants to listen to more blues music that seemed like it would have been an awesome time.

2015 Mississippi Blues Half Marathon Medal

2015 Mississippi Blues Half Marathon Medal

Swag: A+: Instead of shirts, runners received running vests, which is a first for me, and will certainly get used quite a bit over the next few weeks. Runners also received a harmonica, which was an awesome way to include the theme while standing out among other events. The swag bags are also reusable, and there was a CD of local blues artists included that I have yet to listen to, but will this week. And then there is the medal. Guitar shaped, and larger than most medals, this thing is truly outstanding. The finisher’s medal will stand out on any medal rack! It is one of my all-time favorite medals, and I would gladly endure the hills again today to earn another one! The marathon medal had an attached guitar pick, and might have been even large than the ten inch guitar I received for the half marathon.

2015 Mississippi Blues Half Marathon Swag

2015 Mississippi Blues Half Marathon Swag

The post race refreshment tent was a madhouse, I ended up grabbing a drink, a banana, and exiting quickly, so I did not get to enjoy everything that there was to offer there. There were heaters inside the tent, and several people wanted to warm up. I get it, but I had no desire to fight the crowd any more than I had to that morning. The Mississippi Museum of Art was open for runners to eat, relax, and warm up in as well. You also received free entry to the museum with your bib.

Course: B: The support was great, and there were plenty of aid stations. The hills were noticeable, and definitely became a challenge late for me. The course took you through Jackson State University as well as Millsaps College, along with some other landmarks of Jackson. Towards the end, the course went through some residential neighborhoods which had some potholes to navigate around.Being that I twisted my ankle during the latter stages of the race, I can confirm that these potholes were a nuisance. There was music along the course which certainly helped with runner morale.

Overall: A: Great race with a great atmosphere and very memorable race swag. The biggest downside to the race is that it is held during the same weekend as the WDW Marathon events. A runner could not participate in both events, but, for anyone that misses out on the WDW registration, the Mississippi Blues Marathon and Half Marathon would serve as a great, and cheaper, backup plan. I would not hesitate to participate in this race again in the future! Also, the event has its own iPhone app for easy access to event info and pictures on the go!

Running in the Cold

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Found on the Jeff Galloway Facebook page.

Found on the Jeff Galloway Facebook page.

As I am doing my final prep for my first half marathon of 2015, it occurs to me that this race, the Mississippi Blues Half Marathon, is going to be my coldest half marathon to date. And as I am frantically looking at the weather reports, and considering how much to bundle up, I come across a post from Jeff Galloway’s Facebook page. It is a handy, straightforward chart to refer to for cold weather running. Runner’s World has a nice reference for weather related attire as well. So, enjoy this chart and stay warm out there while pounding the pavement!

MRTC Road Race Series Half Marathon #2 Recap

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On November 16, 2014, my quest to become a 2014 Road Warrior was finally realized! And Mother Nature wanted to make sure that I earned this status. The final 13.1 miles of the 74.8 miles required to become a Road Warrior may have been the toughest. It was cold, very cold, with temperatures in the thirties, and a steady stream of rain for each and every mile. If I had not needed this race for Road Warrior, I probably would have stayed in my warm, dry bed.

This is the timing chip for this year's event.

This is the timing chip for this year’s event.

But despite the cold and rain, I completed the race, which was my ninth half marathon of the year, and fourteenth overall, and earned Road Warrior status in the process! I was able to stay upright for the entire race, which I cannot say about the first MRTC RRS Half Marathon. I did, however, have some issues with my shoes and the course.

I immediately think of this anytime I hear Road Warrior! The Road Warriors from the WWF (now WWE)

I immediately think of this anytime I hear Road Warrior! The Road Warriors from the WWF (now WWE)

 

The sole of my right shoe bunched up as the race progressed. At first I thought that I could endure the discomfort for the final two miles, but that was wrong, and somewhat stupid. I had to stop and take the shoe off to solve the problem, which is not ideal during a race. Hopefully this will not become a recurring issue. The course was narrow, with standing water in places, so there was plenty of puddle jumping throughout.

Running in the cold rain

Running in the cold rain

I did not finish the race quite as fast as the previous one, but considering the weather and my shoe issue, I am still very pleased with my time. It was my median time for the year, and leaves me in a good position for another strong run at the St. Jude Half Marathon on December 6.

2014 Beat the Blerch Virtual Medal

2014 Beat the Blerch Virtual Medal

Like the previous MRTC RRS Half Marathon, this one had no swag,  so I coupled it with a virtual race from another physically held half marathon. For this race, I used the medal and swag from the Beat the Blerch Half Marathon held in September. It was a race hosted by the author of The Oatmeal that has some fantastic cartoons about the struggle of running and weight management. For anyone that is unfamiliar with the comic, you should certainly check it out. You will be amused. And probably find something that you can relate to as well.

Beat the Blerch was swag

Beat the Blerch was swag

The race had distances of 10K, half marathon, and full marathon, as well as a virtual option for those runners that did not make the cut for the sold out event. Each had their own medal and the race shirts were great as well. There is a cupcake on the sleeve, which is hilarious and motivating at the same time. Participants also received three race decals,a magnet, stress ball,gummy bears, and cupcake flavored chapstick. It was a nice haul for a virtual race.

It is hard to believe that I only have two races left this year, but I am going to go all out on both of them, that’s for sure!

Heroes in Recovery 6K 2014 Recap

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Back on November 8th, I participated in the Heroes in Recovery 6K held at the Court Square here in Memphis. It is a smaller event, but is for a great cause, alcohol and drug recovery services. Their website shares stories of people in recovery talking about how they overcame addiction and mental health limitations to break the stigma. And since I work in the field of alcohol and drug recovery, I felt that I had to run in the race, if for no other reason than showing my face at event as a representative of my courtroom. Also, it was my first ever 6K, which meant that it was an automatic PR!

And we are off!

And we are off!

It was a cold morning, but nothing like this past week has been across the country. But it was not raining and the sun came out, so it was really ideal running conditions for myself. I was coming off my 5K PR at the True Blue 5K the previous night, so I was confident that I would run hard again. And I did!

The majority of the course is one that I have run multiple times over the past few years, and yet the scenery is not getting old. I started a little faster than I should have, partially because I was at the front with the real speedsters and partially because I was feeling really good. This caught up with my on the home stretch, especially the climb up the bluff, but I was still very happy with results.

Race medal and my age group award

Race medal and my age group award

The combination of the small race field and my strong running led to an age group second place finish for myself, which was my second age group award this year! It feels good to see some positive results on my running ability while also knowing that I can always improve.

Swag from the race, including my age group award.

Swag from the race, including my age group award.

Swag: A: Good looking tech shirt, race medal that was better than a few of the half marathons that I have run in this year, and a race decal. Post race refreshments were adequate, and plentiful. Also, the poster designs for each event is great, and reflects each city for the event.

Front of the medal

Front of the medal

Course: A: Downtown course that is incorporated in most downtown races in Memphis in some capacity. The uphill climb towards the end was a killer, but it always is. We still got to run along the river before making the climb, so at least we had a great view before the steep, but short climb.

Back of the medal

Back of the medal

Overall: A: This was a fun race for a great cause with some good swag for participants, especially the runners that registered early enough to get the $25 registration fee. This is a national race, with events in Memphis, TN, Leiper’s Fork, TN, Palm Springs, CA, New York, NY, Roswell, GA, Charlotte, NC, and Coconut Creek, FL.

As long as my schedule allows, I will return to this race in the future, even if it is just to try to break my 6K PR and this is the only event that will give me this opportunity in the Memphis area.

MRTC Road Race Series Half Marathon #1 Recap

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Last Sunday was the first half marathon in the MRTC Road Race Series. I would have posted about this race sooner, but it has been a long and terrible week. I will post about that later when I am mentally ready. For now, a quick race review.

This was race number 9 of 10 in the Road Race Series and I am 9 for 9 thus far. Just another 13.1 miles until Road Warrior status!

The 2014 MRTC RRS race shirt

The 2014 MRTC RRS race shirt

This race also was my eighth half marathon of the year, and thirteenth overall. This race certainly had the least amount of amenities of any half marathon that I have participated in thus far, but that was known coming into the event. No electrolyte replacement drinks, no medals, and no extra race swag. It was just a boring out and back course along Singleton Parkway from Memphis to the Millington Naval Base and back.

This is the timing chip for this year's event.

This is the timing chip for this year’s event.

It was a very cool morning, which helped with my run. I love to run when the temperature is in the forties, and my results typically reflect this. This was my fastest half marathon of the year (and third fastest ever) with a time of 2:16:04, and it felt great! And this even included my fall around the halfway point of the course! This was my first fall while running in a long time, which is a surprise.

Running along the cold course.

Running along the cold course.

I have decided to include swag from a couple of virtual races into my two half marathons in the MRTC Road Race Series. Basically, I found two physical races that offered virtual options, and did what I needed to do to qualify for the events. Then I just but the medals away until each half in the Road Race Series, then I awarded them to myself as if the race awarded the medal. I still ran the miles for both events, but now my medal rack accurately reflects the number of completed events by me.

ODDyssey Half Medal

2014 ODDyssey Half Marathon Medal

For the first half, I used the medal and shirt from the ODDyssey Half Marathon. You probably have seen the medal from this event since it is already popping up on the best medals of the year lists all over the place. It is a mountable bottle opener, which is awesome ans quite unique. I ran the 13.1 miles for this medal back in July, but waited until last Sunday to “award” it to myself.

2014 ODDyssey Half Marathon Swag

2014 ODDyssey Half Marathon Swag

All and all, it was a good day of running, but I am very happy that there is only one more race in the Road Race Series.

The Race That Wasn’t, But Then Was Anyway

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At this point last week, 20,000+ runners were supposed to be running in the St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend events.  It was going to be my third consecutive year running for the kids of St. Jude, and honestly, I was aiming for another PR.  But a funny thing happened in route to race day, Mother Nature decided that December 7 was not a good day to run and dumped ice and cold upon the Memphis area.  Some may argue that the event cold have gone on as planned, but the St. Jude powers that be made the difficult decision to cancel the race for the safety of the runners, spectators, and volunteers.  Many people forget that races require more than the runners to transpire, and I cannot imagine how brutal it would have been to work an aid station for six hours in single digit temperatures.  Not to mention with the fact about ice accumulation from the discarded water cups around the stations.  St. Jude made the correct call.  It was a call that disappointed all of us, pissed off a few, baffled others, and inconvenienced most.

This was me as I was about to head out for my 13.1!

This was me as I was about to head out for my 13.1!

But a crazy and inspiring thing happened after St. Jude canceled the race.  Some of us crazy SOB’s ran the race anyway!  That’s right, all over Memphis, and even the southeast, there were courageous runners sporting their St. Jude Heroes singlets, bibs, and plenty of cold equipped running gear.  One group ran the majority of the course and even received their medals at the end since the medals were already at the finish line.  Some ran in their neighborhoods, some on treadmills, and some out of towners ran once they returned to their hometowns.  It truly was an amazing experience.

This is what the finish line for the St. Jude Marathon looked like Friday afternoon

This is what the finish line for the St. Jude Marathon looked like Friday afternoon

I am one of those people who ran the race despite it being canceled.  I logged my cold 13.1 miles for several reasons. One, the event is about the celebration and awareness of the wonderful patients at St. Jude.  We are running for those kids, therefore, despite cancellation, I ran for those kids.  Second, I was scheduled for 13.1, so I wanted to run 13.1.  Simple as that.  Three, in a weird way, I hope people seeming myself and the others running around town will inspire them to join the race next year.  To raise money for St. Jude and make the event an even bigger success.  This year, the heroes program raised a record $8.1 million for the kids of St. Jude with over 14,500 individuals competing as heroes!  Maybe next year the total can eclipse $10 million!

2013 St. Jude Marathon Weekend Medal (w/ a little ice)

2013 St. Jude Marathon Weekend Medal (w/ a little ice). Not my photo, but this was from the Commercial Appeal, found via Google Image search.

After cancellation, St. Jude handled the situation better than anyone could have imagined.  The Heroes Lounge was still open downtown for all heroes to enjoy.  St. Jude communicated every step of the way, and provided several alternatives for registered participants.  Registration fees could be donated to St. Jude, refunded, and transferred to the Rock ‘N Roll New Orleans, Phoenix, or Nashville events.  All race shirts, medals, and goodie bags that were unclaimed could be mailed to you or donated to St. Jude.  Also, all registered participants for this year’s race will have priority registration for next year’s event!  Any of these options would have appeased most, but all of them truly were above and beyond!  Of course, there were gripes and confusion about some of these details.  Some people want their race materials despite the cancellation.  Then some people cannot understand why you would want something for a race you did not run.  My argument to that logic is everyone is different, but a lot of people did run this race, organized or not, so if they want that medal, fine.  If not, I am sure a patient at St. Jude will enjoy it.

I went to the expo before cancellation, so I got my race shirt, bib & bag. Also, the singlet & other shirt were sent previously to heroes.

I went to the expo before cancellation, so I got my race shirt, bib & bag. Also, the singlet & other shirt were sent previously to heroes.

Personally, I do not know how or if to claim this race.  It obviously does not count towards my total of half marathons which is a bummer because it would have been my fourth in four months, but I will live.  I might count it as a virtual run since there was, at least at first, an infrastructure for the event and several others running with the option of a medal and race shirt I wanted them.  Also, how does this race affect my race streak?  Virtual races have counted during the streak, but what about canceled races that I ran anyway?  I made it to December and through an injury, I am not going to let a little bit of ice derail my goal for the year!  I guess I will find a local 5K or something just to cover my bases.

Also, this was the weirdest run that I have experienced in my neighborhood since people were honking, waving, and even taking my picture!  These gestures told me that I was making a wise decision running for St. Jude that day.  These people did not know me from Adam, but these saw the St. Jude logo and thought about those kids, even if it was just for a moment.  I hope that the other runners experienced the exact same sensation!