2016 St. Jude Half Marathon

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For the fifth (would be sixth if Mother Nature cooperated) time, I have successfully completed the St. Jude Half Marathon in Memphis, TN. And that is where the good news stops, at least for my personal performance. To say that I finished the 2016 race calendar with a whimper would be an understatement. Actually, to call my 2016 in running anything but an unmitigated disaster would be an understatement, but that is not the point of this review.

crowd

A wonderful shot of the race crowd. Pic is not my own.

My love for the St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend is well documented on this blog and throughout social media. I return to the race year after year, regardless of my training level to complete the 13.1 miles. And no year tested this dedication like 2016. For starters, I did not train  like I should. This is no one’s fault but my own. I could have gotten up earlier, I could have made arrangements, but I let the excuses win. But to make matters even worse, I spent the Thursday night before the race in the ER with my son with croup. And obviously his health comes before all else. So after spending the night in the ER receiving treatment, we were able to come home around 6:00 am. At this point I was at the 24 hour mark of no sleep. I smarter man would have called in sick and rested all day, but I had a project due so I went into work. And I stayed there all day. Now I am at 35 hours of no sleep. My wife decides that take our son to her parent’s house for the evening so I can get some rest before the half marathon, and she is a saint for this. I finally go to bed around 8:00 pm, which eclipsed the 38 hour mark of consecutive hours awake. My alarm was set for 5:30 am, so let’s just say that my two-day average of sleep was not great.

The forecast for the race was cold, with some rain, and both occurred throughout the morning. I had a rain jacket early in the race, but ditched it because I was overheating and thought that we had missed the rain, which was not 100% accurate. Within 30 minutes of discarding of my jacket, the rain began. It was more of a heavy drizzle and dropped my core temperature more than making me uncomfortably wet. Luckily for me, my decision to ditch my jacket was not a total disaster.

The last four miles, however, were a total disaster thanks to my lack of training and haphazard race prep. My legs quit on me. At first it was cramps in my right calf, then my left calf. Then my left knee started feeling like something was running around inside of it. I no longer could run even a few feet. The Nuun or water on the course was not helping. The Gu I brought did not help. I was resigned to walking the last four miles or so of the course, or quitting. Susan offered to come pick me up, but I refused. I signed up for the race, I raised the money for the kids of St. Jude, I had people cheering me along the course, including my wife and son, I had made it this far, so I was finishing this race! And so I limped along, trying to jog every few minutes, until I crossed that finish line at my glacial pace.

race-beer

This beer was the most helpful refreshment on the course! Thank you, High Cotton Brewery!

Swag: B: I like the medal, I was disappointed in the shirt. The medals have gotten progressively better over the years, with last year’s race being the high watermark for the finisher’s medal as well as participant shirt.

st-jude-medal

Course: A+: I love the changes to the course this year. Removing the long stretch of boring miles along North Parkway, the paved path through Overton Park, and the uphill climb on Poplar Ave was a gift from above. Adding in more time through Overton Square and the surrounding neighborhoods made the changes even better. Hopefully this was not a one year course deviation.

race-family

Nothing beats an on course family photo!

 

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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…

Weight Divisions for Marathons?

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On Monday night, I was on the Facebook page for Run the Bluegrass (I was there checking the progress of my submitted medals in the 2014 Medal of the Year bracket that is going on – vote for Oak Barrel and Navy Nautical 10 Miler) and noticed something strange. For this year’s race, the RD has decided to incorporate Clydesdale and Athena categories. For those of you that do not know, these categories are geared for larger runners. Clydesdale is for male runners in excess of 220 pounds, and Athena is for female runners checking in at over 165 pounds.

Film Title: Run Fat Boy Run

 

 

These are USAT certified divisions, but they are most often seen in triathlons, not half marathons, marathons, or any other running only events. Personally, I think that it is a neat wrinkle to this year’s event, and as a “Clydesdale”, I would be pumped to place in that division. However, the topic seemed to be very polarizing in the comments section (like everything on Facebook seems to be) and as of last night, tempers were flaring. After reading through both sides, I decided to post my thoughts on here so as to share with all of you, and not stoke the flames over there anymore. I just found the debate interesting.

On one side, you have a growing number of runners not cut from the traditional mold. They are heavier and less athletic looking than what a layperson would expect when they hear that the person is a runner. Several are on amazing weight loss journeys, some are deceptively large and will smoke you on the course, and some are out there achieving a goal, and quite possibly embracing a new lifestyle. This group very rarely gets to feel the joy that is associated with a podium call, and the additional accolades and swag that might come from the accomplishment. Often they are in the group of the back of the pack finishers that many spectators and fellow runners forget about once the medals are handed out, and the post race beer is enjoyed. They are running the same course as everyone else, but often feel like they are running a different race.

homer_simpson_run

 

On the other side, by classifying someone by a weight class can be demeaning. Being teased for my weight virtually my entire life, whether it be from family, friends, or foe has left some very real marks on my psyche. A major race labeling their in a manner that will only heighten the attention on this group seems off-putting, and in many ways cruel. Just because a runner is larger, does not mean that they should be forced to wear a scarlet letter as one more reminder of their size! This is just another form of fat-shaming and any race director that supports it should be ashamed of themselves!

And of course, there is also the notion that just because one’s weight is over a certain threshold, does not mean that they are fat! Their BMI (which in itself is a flawed metric) could be in a very favorable range, and they could be quite tall, thus adding weight without adding girth. There are several scenarios at play, and therefore pigeon-holing people into categories is wrong, and should be abstained from.

Last Place

Honestly, after reading the comments, I feel that in no way, shape, or form are the staff from Run the Bluegrass trying to fat-shame, embarrass, or ridicule anyone over the weight thresholds. Rather, they are simply trying to find ways to enhance the experience for ALL runners of the event. The fact that a race is trying to give this group a little extra incentive for the event, and maybe help boost their self-esteem, especially in regards to their running, is commendable to me. And honestly, as I told Susan last night, I wish more races would offer these categories for people like me! Who knows, I could be earning quite a few podium calls if they did!

This post was written a little over-the-top and dramatic for effect. I do not wish or intend to offend anyone, but simply lay out what some extremes of both sides of this debate might be. I would love to hear any input or insight that you might have about this topic.

2014 Goals, Halfway Point Check In

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Before the year started, I composed some goals that I would like to reach this year.  And since it is the halfway point of 2014, I decided that it would be a good time to look at them once again.  Consider this an accountability exercise.

2014 WDW Marathon Medal

2014 WDW Marathon Medal

  1. Run a Marathon. This was not an exact goal since the marathon was 12 days into the year, but it was my first marathon and warrants some mention.

    Very nice looking medal

    Very nice looking medal

  2. Redeem My Germantown Half Marathon.  I did not exactly set a land speed record this year, but I was not injured and I did complete the race, so this goal is complete!

    This was after I finished the event and I had a chance to clean up a bit.

    This was after I finished the event and I had a chance to clean up a bit.

  3. Become a Tough Mudder and a Spartan.  50% complete with the Tampa Special Ops Spartan Sprint in February.  I ended up missing the Tough Mudder event in June.

    My awesome race medal!

    My awesome race medal!

  4. Try New Races.  So far this year I have run in 11 new (to me) races. There was a full marathon, a Spartan Race, 10 nautical miler, and multiple half marathons. Country Music Half Medal
  5. Run More Half Marathons in 2014 Than My Entire Life Prior.  Speaking ofhalf marathons, so far in 2014, I have completed 5 half marathons which is the same number for my entire life prior to this year.  And with 6 more half marathons on the horizon, I should have a couple of chances to eviscerate this goal.

    Log 1,000 miles in 2014

    Log 1,000 miles in 2014

  6. Run At Least 1,000 Miles. Well, at this point to be on pace for this goal I should be at 500 miles.  I am actually at 439.09, so I am 60.91 miles short, so I will need to pick it up in the second half of the year to reach this goal.  February, March, April, and June were all sub-par months.  I need to average 93.485 miles per month for the next 6 months to reach 1,000. USMC Fitness Boot Camp
  7. Focus On Cross Training. By joining the USMC Fitness Boot Camp, this goal will be realized by the year’s end, I just have to stick with it. 10NMMedal
  8. Continue My Race a Month Schedule. So far in 2014 I am 6 for 6, so this goal is going strong.  And I have already paid for at least 1 race in each of the next 6 months, so it is all on me now.
  9. Complete At Least One Pull Up.  Well, this goal has been completely ignored.  I am no closer today that I was at the beginning of the year.  Completing this goal is not looking good, but there are still 6 months left to realize it.

After looking at the data, 2014 has gone rather strongly for me, even if my running times have been somewhat lackluster.  There are some areas that I have lagged, but I have realized quite a few goals as well.  With a few tweaks and adjustments, I should be able to improve on my 2014 results.

Samoas Are My Kryptonite

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Yep, this sums up me vs Samoas

Yep, this sums up me vs Samoas

This time of year is brutal for those of us that battle our weight.  The full brunt of the winter blues is upon you and the little army of sugar pushers are in full force.  You go to Kroger for fruit and they are there.  You go to the Home Depot to grab something for your house, they are there.  You go out to dinner, and boom, they are there.  You come to work, and their generals, or mothers, depending on how you are looking at it, are there, pushing the wares.  You cannot escape their reign of terror, it feels like the Stormtroopers in WWII if you are a fat guy trying to eat right.

How can you resist?

How can you resist?

Of course, I am talking the Girl Scouts of America and their biggest money-maker, Girl Scout Cookies!  I am not trying to disparage the Girl Scouts or their cookies, rather just pointing out how pervasive they are in a community with their cookies, and at $3.50 a box, it is nearly impossible to say no!   Especially when Samoas are involved.  Seriously, they are my Kryptonite.  I cannot resist them, and they wreak havoc on my health.  I open a box, and before I know it, they are gone.  Every last one of them.  I even turn up the container trying to savor every last crumb!  It really is a problem.  I think I need to go to a support group for this addiction.

This is Kryptonite

This is Kryptonite

Of course there are other varieties that are tempting, but for me, Samoas are my biggest weakness.  In fact, this season I have ONLY had two boxes of Samoas, and I feel that it is a victory for my waistline!

Not the healthiest thing I had this week, but they taste so good

Not the healthiest thing I had this week, but they taste so good

If you want to delve further into the facts about Girl Scout cookies, there is a great infographic here.  One thing that stood out to me is that last year there were $714 million worth of cookies sold!

This post has both made me hungry and want to go for a run!  I guess I will be busy after work…

*Again, this post is not trashing the Girl Scouts or any of its members, rather just illustrate how weak I can be in my weight loss journey.