On the Road Again…

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On the road again
Just can’t wait to get on the road again
The life I love is [running miles] with my friends
And I can’t wait to get on the road again
On the road again
Determined

Determination late in the race

It is time to start my training for the St. Jude Half Marathon once again! It has never been a secret that this is my favorite race of the year, and training for it could not have come at a better time this big guy. I am in my second week of my sluggish training, and I am already seeing some gains, albeit, they are no where near my norms. But they will get there, it may not be until the 2017 St. Jude Half Marathon, but they will get there.
Running

Running & smiling in my first 13.1!

And our way
Is on the road again
Just can’t wait to get on the road again
The life I love is [running miles] with my friends
And I can’t wait to get on the road again
On the road again
My apologies to Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson. Also, my apologies to you, my readers, for this corny post, I will see myself out…

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!

2016 Germantown Half Marathon Recap

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I have written a recap for this race multiple times, and it most details rarely change from year to year. This year is no exception, so I am going to spare everyone the explicit details, and just share the swag, and give some props.

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A personal positive note, I was faster during this race than the Rebel Well Mighty Half, so that is always welcomed news! Susan also brought our son out to cheer me along the course, which is certainly a welcomed sight!

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But I said I was going to give props for this race, and so I would love to give a big shout out and congratulations to my friend, and friend of this blog to Andrew D. for crushing his first ever half marathon! He left me in the dust from the start and finished well ahead of his goal and certainly earned his successful finish!

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Swag: A-: For the third year in a row, there was a redesign of the race medal, shirt, and logo. It was another great design, and certainly trumped what was done for the race for the years prior to 2014. I still preferred the designs from 2014, but this year was still very good, even if the use of a Pegasus is a bit perplexing. They kept the long-sleeved shirt for this year’s race, and even had an option to purchase a hoodie.

Rebel Well Mighty Half Recap

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For years there had been a half marathon in Oxford, MS that Susan wanted me to participate in, but for whatever reason, my schedule never seemed to align properly with it. And when I finally decided to make it a priority to appease my Ole Miss alum wife, the race was discontinued. That is how things go I suppose. But this year Run Oxford decided to organize a half marathon to showcase their beautiful town (even non Ole Miss fans like myself can concede to this fact) and encourage healthier living. In fact, Run Oxford has organized an entire series of races for 2016, dubbed as the Inn at Ole Miss Oxford Grand Prix Race Series. You can sign up for the short or long distances, or just for individual races. I opted for the long distance, and that is how I found myself in Oxford, MS on a brisk February morning preparing to run a race in which I was not properly trained (my fault) and had no clue what to expect.

I have been to Ole Miss several times with Susan and her family for tailgating and football, as well as a few times in my younger days for some debauchery, but I have never visited to campus so early or when there seemingly was so little happening. I arrived plenty early because I was not entirely sure of where I needed to be or how easy navigation was going to be on campus. It turns out that I was overly paranoid about this fact because there was plenty of parking adjacent to the expo and finish line, and this area was also quite close to the start line as well. I did not browse the expo being that I was picking up my packet the morning of the race, but by the looks of the setup inside the indoor practice facility which housed the expo and finish line, there were a decent amount of vendors for this newly minted race.

Since I was not fully trained (a recurring theme which I am not proud about, and I have started to address) for this race, I opted to use a run walk ratio of 2.5:1. This ratio served me quite well for the first 8-9 miles, but my lack of training and mental weakness from this lack of training took over and I went into full on “how much longer is this race” mode. Nothing on my body really hurt that badly besides my ego and my confidence, but this is the bed I made for myself, so I forged through it to finish the race is a personal worst time. This performance will likely be repeated another time or two this spring as I work to reset my running, healthy living, and dedication into my daily routine.

Rebel Well Half

The positive to being slow is that it is easier to get a clean race photo!

Course: A-: There were hills because running a race of any distance in Oxford will have hills. It cannot be avoided. The race organizers did do a great job of trying to minimize the impact of the hills, and tried valiantly to incorporate the biggest hills early in the race. This was appreciated by all of us runners. The course went throughout Ole Miss’ campus, Downtown Oxford, and several residential neighborhoods, ending in the Manning Center (name of the indoor practice facility). Finishing inside was a great idea for a February race, even though on this particular race day, it was not needed due to the unseasonably warm weather. The Ole Miss cheerleaders cheering you to the finish was a nice touch as well.

My only complaint about the course is that the Oxford Police Department were moving us off the road and onto the sidewalks by 8:30 am, even though not all of the roads had sidewalks to utilize. The race started at 7:00 am and the roads were supposed to be closed/reserved until 10:30 am. I guess the small number of runners expedited the urgency to fully reopen the roads.

Mighty Half

Mighty Half 2016 Finisher’s Medal

Swag: A-: The race shirt was a full zipped hoodie which is awesome, even if they gave me the wrong size, and the race medal was nice looking, even if it was not revolutionary. There was no beer after the race, but there was plenty of chocolate milk, water, and refreshments to recover with. Also, they provided free race photos, which is always great.

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Mighty Half 2016 Swag

Overall: A-: This was a fun and well-organized event. I am curious to see if this race does become an annual event, and how many more runners chose this race in the future. If it is offered and I am available to run it, I will return to this race. If for no other reason than having a very attainable personal best finishing time for the course!

 

2015 St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon Recap

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Man was I sloooooowwwww during this race, and I did not care one bit. I had other priorities this fall and hence, I did a poor job of training. The name of the game on this particular race morning was finish, and I did just that, so it was deemed a success. Especially because of my awesome cheering section, including the newest and youngest member of the family.

 

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2015 St. Jude Half Marathon Finisher’s Medal

I love this race, raising money for the kids of St. Jude, and remembering what I can accomplish when I put my mind to it. This race always is rewarding for me, even when it is not a success in terms of my finishing time. With Susan’s pregnancy and the the birth of our son, my training was virtually nonexistent. I would go for a run here and there, or do a quick workout at the house, but I by no means followed a set schedule and my mileage was not ramped up near where it should have been. Therefore, this event became one in which crossing the finish line was all a cared about and even though my running watch was still going (I mean, I need to track those stats!), it was not something I was using to gauge my success.

 

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Greatest cheering section ever!

It several ways, this was the perfect year for me to have my slowest race of all-time. There was a new course to enjoy (I love the changes), I saw more friends along the course than all of my previous years combined, and my newest family member made his public debut to cheer me along the way.

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Heroes swag

Another positive about the 2015 race for me was that it was my highest fundraising total for the kids of St. Jude ever! Thanks to several generous donors, including multiple readers of this blog, I was able to raise $1,000 for the kids of St. Jude, which was twice the total of my goal! Thank you to everyone that donated!

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2015 St. Jude Half Marathon swag

No need to go through all of my usual grading for this event, but I will just mention a couple of things. The Heroes singlets are still tiny, so if you run as a Hero, order accordingly. I remembered to go up a size in the shirt this year, so I can actually wear it, especially since the shirts ran bigger anyway this year. The medal had an extra bling factor and incorporated the Memphis skyline and St. Jude’s campus again this year. And the course being reworked to avoid Overton Park and instead use Madison Ave. was an outstanding change. It allowed for more spectators, better crowd management along the route (both spectators and runners), and had less debris to avoid along the way. I am not sure why the change was made (Overton Park had been having some challenges with park usage and conservation recently), but I fully support it being a permanent change.

In 2016, this will again be my race to cap off the year, and hopefully I will be fully trained for it and I will be closer to chasing down a PR than a PW.

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.

Hernando Water Tower 10K Recap

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Let’s just file this away in the very late race recap category, but late is better than never. Back on October 3, I had the privilege of running in the Hernando Water Tower 10K in Hernando, MS, which is a small town in Mississippi just south of Memphis. It is actually quite impressive how Hernando has been able to maintain its small town feel despite the population growth and sprawl of the region.

I love the 10K distance. It is more challenging than a 5K, not as daunting as a half marathon, and staying prepared to run the 10K distance is a great way to maintain your health. I am glad that I was finally able to run in this event this year and I hope to make it a part of my recurring schedule in the future.

My time was not my best, but compared to where I thought I would finish, I was quite pleased with my finish. Better yet, I felt great throughout the course and actually finished strong enough to keep going a few more miles despite my limited training. I cannot wait to see how well I tackle this course in the future when I am fully trained!

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Swag A-: I love the medal. It is quite substantial and doubles as a bottle opener. It also perfectly captures the theme of the race. The logo on the long-sleeved shirt and drawstring bag is the same as the medal design.

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Course B+: The course was well marked and had plenty of rolling hills to challenge runners, but not overwhelm them. It was a scenic, small town landscape throughout the course, and I never felt that the course was overcrowded, even at the start line.

Overall A-: For a small town race being hosted independently, I must say that the race organizers ran a smooth event. Timing worked well, the medals were top notch, and there were no logistical nightmares to be had. The race was very enjoyable and easy to fit into my fall training schedule year after year. I will be back.

2015 Navy Ten Nautical Miler Recap

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Two weeks ago I participated in my second straight Navy Ten Nautical Miler on the naval base in Millington, TN. I loved the race again this year despite the higher temperature and humidity for the 2015 version. As the race progressed, it became more of a just finish mentality rather than pushing for a PR. I am not going to lie, I struggled greatly during the run, and questioned this whole running thing! I ended up finishing the race about 15 minutes slower than last year, which seems to be a theme for this heat and my running. The heat got so overwhelming, but I finished and once I cooled off, my rational mind took over and I was eager to run once again.

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D-Day

The distance of 10 nautical miles is clearly not an arbitrary distance. Rather, it has some significance from the Battle of Midway. The Battle of Midway was a major victory for the US Navy in WWII, and marked the first naval defeat in almost 100 years for the Japanese Navy.  The battle was between June 4 and June 7, 1942. And since the battle was in early June, the race is likewise held in early June, despite the heat and humidity this time of year in Memphis. As was stated at the event, if the US Navy had won the battle in October, the race would be in October.

2015 10NM Race Swag

2015 10NM Race Swag

Swag: A+:  This race provided one of the better goody bags that I have ever received. All runners received a good-looking tech shirt, financial book, race decal, KT Tape sample, race logo mixing cup, 10NM race decal, as well as some other promotional items and race literature. Finishers received a fantastic finisher medal that was a heavy-duty anchor on a navy and gold cord. It is an awesome finisher’s medal and certainly stands out on my wall. Also, the Cool Zone fans and ice bag chairs were lifesavers on the hot morning!

2015 10NM Race Medal

2015 10NM Race Medal

Course: B+: Mostly flat course with some rolling hills that serpentines through the naval base and a brief stretch of country road. There were water stops at each nautical mile and good crowd support along the way. From the guys handing out cold beer at nautical mile six and the kids with Super Soakers spraying runners right before nautical mile 7, the spectators helped make the race even better. The only downside was that the course between nautical miles 7.5 and 9 incorporated a track around the barracks/family living units on base. It was a boring stretch of the course.

Overall: A:  Great race, with lots of support and excellent swag.  I love that there is a reason why they host the event and amount of support from the community as well as the naval sailors and officers. This is a must run the race for those in the Memphis area, and it will certainly be one that I return to in the future. And I am certain that next the weather will be brutal, but I am still looking forward to getting another anchor medal!

Bluff City 10K Recap

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Last Saturday was the inaugural Bluff City 10K benefiting Habitat for Humanity here in Memphis. And since the Grizzlies advanced to the second round of the NBA Playoffs, graduation was moved to Sunday and I was able to participate in the event. Too bad the weather did not cooperate with my good fortune.

Red normally is not good for running

Red normally is not good for running

The morning began with the threat of rain and storms, and for once, the weatherman was right. Thirty minutes before the race was scheduled to start, the bottom fell out and the lightning came with a fury. A large group of us huddled up in a parking garage, waiting for the lightning to subside so we could fuel our running addiction along the soggy course. With each lightening strike came another delay of 20 minutes. It seemed as if we were not going to get to run the race, or even an abbreviated version of it. But just as quickly as the storm began, the lightening halted. 700 idiot runners cheered, and we swam towards the start line. Honestly, I welcomed the rain. It was a warm and humid day, so the rain helped keep my core temp low. I may not have been thrilled with the soggy shoes, but there is no need to complain about that.

Ready to play in the rain

Ready to play in the rain

This race had a first for me. About the time we were listening to the thunderstorm contingency plan, we heard a report that two of the water stations had been stolen! That’s right, some locals decided that they needed the tables and coolers more than us runners, so they helped themselves to them. This occurrence does lend itself rather nicely to my favorite quote from Clerks, “Bunch of savages in this town!” I will say that Start 2 Finish did a great job making accommodations for the missing water stops and we did not even notice it during the race. Kudos.

Bluff City Savages

Swag: A: A simple, but great looking medal and t-shirt for all finishers. The post race spread was a nice mix of chips, bagels, and pizza, with plenty of Memphis Made beer flowing, even in the rain.

Beer and medal, enough said

Beer and medal, enough said

Course: A: Not terribly challenging, and it included a great snapshot of Midtown Memphis. Obviously the rain created some puddling issues along the course, but it did not create any areas that were impassable. And even though some individuals absconded with two of the water stations, we still had water (and not from rain) each mile.

Shirt, medal, bib

Shirt, medal, bib

Overall: A: Great logistics and a fun race, even with all of the potential for disaster. I love that there is another 10K in town, and I suspect this race will grow in popularity at a rapid rate over the next few years. I, for one, will certainly participate in this event again.

My optimism for this race could also be from the fact that this is the best I have felt after a race in several months. I have been in a funk, and it felt great to finish an event without having the feeling of having the crap kicked out of me!