2015 Stars and Stripes 5K Review

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It is amazing that despite how brutal of a summer that we have been having that an evening race in July was bearable, but that was the case for the 2015 Stars and Stripes 5K held at the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium and Tiger Lane here in Memphis, TN. Originally I was not going to participate in this race, but we had a friend, Abby, coming in from out-of-town and she wanted to run in it, so I decided to as well. I ran in this race two years ago, and while I thought it was a fine race, there was a train that ran through the middle of the course, causing several runners to have to wait out the train, destroying their pace and finishing times. Luckily the course has since been tweaked and there were no trains to contend with this year!

Post race fireworks (taken from the Start 2 Finish Facebook page)

Post race fireworks (taken from the Start 2 Finish Facebook page)

Abby was wanting to improve on her time and wanted me to help motivate and distract her along to course. In theory, the plan seemed solid, but in action, I discovered that I am kind of terrible at being a running coach! We started strong, actually probably too strong trying to find a nice section of the pack. During this jockeying, I lost Abby. I tried to slow down or stop a couple of times to wait for her, but with over 1,600, the crowd was too big for any recon, so I just forged ahead. I finished the race, informed Susan and Abby’s mom of our separation, and then headed back onto the course to find Abby and help her finish. I found her about half a mile short of the finish and I started running with her. I tried to minimize what was left on the course and let her know how close to a victory beer she was! As the final stretch came along, I encouraged Abby to sprint to the finish, pointing out a lady a few feet ahead of us that I knew Abby could beat. I actually yelled to Abby “You can beat her!” and then took off. Not only did Abby beat our mark, she sprinted past several people to a PR by over 5 minutes! It was a great performance by her and I was happy to be a part of it! I was so happy that Abby was able to exceed her goal and feel great about it!

A post race beer!

A post race beer!

Swag: A: After the race, there were burgers, hot dogs, watermelon, beer, and the other staples of a July 4th celebration. There even was a fireworks show for the participants and their families! The ultra soft, cotton shirt was so much better than a cheap, white t-shirt, and holding the event at a football stadium and tailgating venue really helped with crowd control and parking.

2015 Stars and Stripes race shirt and bib

2015 Stars and Stripes race shirt and bib

Course: A: Not too hilly, and they avoided the train tracks, so that is a plus. Also, with a crowd of 1,600+ runners, the majority of the course was able to accommodate us, even though I was scolded for running outside of the cones during one of the turns!

Overall: A: All in all, this was a very fun event, and thankfully the weather cooperated with us for the run! I will return for at least a third time!

Running in the Memphis Heat (Not the Wrestling Documentary)

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Hot Outside

I am not going to lie, staying motivated this summer has been almost impossible. I have allowed the heat and humidity to best me, and there really is not an excuse for this. I live in Memphis, where it is always hot during the summer and this is not exactly my first time experiencing it. I have just allowed it to creep into my psyche, and with each slow run, this negativity creeps further into my mind. The temporary reprieve from the heat last week showed a glimmer of hope for my running, so this is what I am going to build upon.

batman-its-hot-outside

Six months ago, I was griping about the cold and ice hampering my running, and now it is the heat! I just need to get back into the proper mindset to return to a strong running regiment. The 5K I ran in on Friday night is the first step in this endeavor, but more on that race later this week.

Best of luck to all of you as you battle this heat with me!

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.

Battle of Midway

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!

MRTC Second 5 Miler Recap

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

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

On Sunday was the second 5 miler in the MRTC Road Race Series.  And despite my best efforts and the prodding of Susan, I am still on pace to achieve Road Warrior status for the series.  I had a friend in town over the weekend, and decided that it was a great idea to drink heavily on Saturday.  All of Saturday, so running 5 miles in the heat and humidity was not the highest on my list of priorities on Sunday.  In fact, I was a little concerned about how dehydrated I was.  I would have stayed in bed all morning if if were not for Susan kicking me in the ass and convincing me to go to the race.  Thanks for that, Susan!

This was basically what my run was like

This was basically what my run was like.

Once I started my run, my fears proved not to be warranted.  I felt decent, and ran rather well.  I was 3 minutes slower than the first 5 miler, but I did feel good.  Of course, the race was not quite as hot as the previous one, nor was it as hot as the Hit and Run 5K the day prior.  I did not collapse on the course and had no cramping issues, so that was a successful race in my mind.  And as a bonus, I found a very strong hangover cure, running 5 miles in the Memphis heat and humidity!

Sorry for the short post, but I have quite a bit of work to finish up before traveling to Disneyland and the upcoming races/weekend. Good luck to everyone else that is running this weekend! Be safe, stay hydrated, and enjoy yourself! 

Hit and Run 5K Memphis Recap

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First things first, I would like to apologize to anyone that wanted to see me fall during this race.  I forgot to bring my GoPro camera, so, unfortunately, there is no proof of my navigation of the course.  You can get a good idea of the course if you have ever seen the show Wipeout because this race could have been a warm-up course for the show.

Race swag for the Hit and Run 5K

Race swag for the Hit and Run 5K

It was a hot Saturday here in Memphis. I was mercifully in an early wave for the race so I only had to deal with temps in the mid-80’s. The course was a combination of parking lot, road, and vacant field with 5 inflatable obstacles along the way.  The race started in waves with people registering for half an hour blocks, and being dispersed in 25-30 people bursts every 90 seconds, which did a great job of keeping the course moving freely.

The race was untimed, and with the water on the course, I decided not to wear my watch, so there is no official time for my run, but I finished the course in under 40 minutes.  The first obstacle was the Slippery Slopes which had you climb onto the inflatable, walk across a beam, around protrusions while having dodgeballs thrown at you.  There also was soap covering the obstacle.  I fell. The second obstacle was the Wobble Wall which had you climb up the obstacle and walk across several wobbly pedestals.  I fell.  The third obstacle was the Bouncy Bridge which is basically the Big Balls from Wipeout. It was a serious of 4 inflatable balls that you climb up 11 feet and jump onto the first one, and bounce along to the rest. I bounced onto the first one, and made it no further.  I was not alone in this outcome.  The fourth obstacle was the Whacking Wall which requires you to climb up and walk along a narrow path along a wall while people threw dodgeballs at you and panels from the wall would swing open.  Surprisingly, I did not fall.  The fifth and final obstacle was the Duck or Dive which has runners walk across a narrow, inflatable bridge across a pool while big balls rotated overhead.  I fell.

The course was fun, but hot.  The swag was OK.  The race volunteers were very friendly.  I registered via Groupon and had an additional discount, so this race only cost me $10, so I certainly think that I got my money’s worth from that. However, I probably would not go out of my way to participate in this race again in the future.

 

Elvis Presley 5K Recap

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On Saturday, I participated in the Elvis Presley 5K for the first time despite being an active runner in the Memphis area for the past few years.  I know some people are obsessed with Elvis and his music.  I am not.  I like several of his songs (especially In the Ghetto and Kentucky Rain), and I get how big of a talent he was, but some people can be a bit over the top with it. I have actually never visited Graceland, and the race on Saturday morning was just the third time that I had even been by the mansion.

Elvis Presley 5K Finisher's Medal

Elvis Presley 5K Finisher’s Medal

This year I decided to tryout the race, if for no other reason but to see if the race is worth adding to my calendar annually. When I registered I did not realize that the race date, August 16, coincided with Elvis’ death back in 1977, but being that the race is a fundraiser for a nonprofit that Elvis himself supported, Live It Up, Inc., the event seemed to be a good way to celebrate Elvis.  And this race also is the only race from Memphis to make The Runner’s Bucket List: 200 Races to Run Before You Die (more on this book later this week), so I was glad to finally experience the event for myself.

I was expecting a ton of Elvis fanatics and very few serious runners.  I was only half right.  There were several Elvis fanatics there, but this was a large and very competitive race.  The race ended up with over 1100 finishers, so this was one of the bigger 5K’s in town.

The weather, while in the 80’s, was not unbearable, and the humidity was only 76% at the race start.  In some parts of the country, this would be horrid running conditions, but in August in Memphis, this could qualify for winter running!  I never felt like I was going to overheat during this race, and if it was not for my shoe coming untied twice during the race, I would have finished with a stronger time.

Course: B+: You start and finish at the gates of Graceland, which is very cool.  The rest of the course is run through residential neighborhoods, which does not provide much scenery.  But several of the residents do cheer you on, and there were multiple residents with sprinklers and water hoses going for runners to cool off with.  The area around Graceland can be sketchy, but the neighborhood we ran through was very inviting.  There were a couple of modest hills, and after a congested start, the course opened up.

Elvis Presley 5K Swag

Elvis Presley 5K Swag

Swag: A: Awesome medal! Yes, this is a 5K with a medal.  Some years, the medal is not that great, but this year they hit it out of the park.  It was a replica of Elvis’ TCB logo, and it is awesome.  The t-shirt falls more on the ugly side of things, but for the diehard Elvis fans, I am sure that they love it.  There was nothing else in the race bag, but the post race food spread was great.  There was plenty of beer, Krispy Kreme doughnuts, pasta, wraps, and fruit.

Overall: A:  There was great race support with the event and anytime a 5K produces a good-looking medal is a plus.  I had fun at the event and would definitely consider running the race again.  The race started at 8:00 am, which worried me because of the possibility of it being really hot, but the race was not hindered too much by it.

2014 Breakaway Bardog 5K Recap

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Originally, I was going to skip this race, but was convinced on Saturday to run it on Sunday morning.  Last year’s event was fun and the post race party had plenty of beer and top-notch food.  I expected to find more of the same again this year.  The weather was not nearly as agreeable as last year’s event or even the Elvis 5K the previous day.  In fact, the worrisome 9:00 am start was not kind to us runners.  If the event would have started at 7:00 am (preferred) or even 8:00 am (like the Elvis 5K), it would have been a little more forgiving.  There was a breeze and cloud cover until 8:45, then the clouds parted and the sun bore down upon us.  It became apparent very quickly that this race was not going to be a PR!

The first mile was bearable, but I decided to take it easy after that.  The heat just beat me physically, and especially mentally.  I still finished feeling better than I did after the second MRTC 5K, and my finishing time was a little bit better as well.

Swag for the 2014 Breakaway Bardog 5K. No pint glass for me this.

Swag for the 2014 Breakaway Bardog 5K. No pint glass for me this.

Swag: A-: Another Breakaway Bardog 5K, another great, super soft t-shirt.  This race has certainly figured out how to make their runners happy with the race shirts, and that is certainly one reason you see so many of their shirts worn around town all year.  I did not get a pint glass this year (only given to the first 350 runners to register), but it was very nice looking.  The post race food and drink was basically the same as last year, which is a positive.  It is hard to argue with Bardog sliders and veggie kabobs, as well as a large beer selection, with plenty of local brews.  I used all three of my beer tickets to take advantage of this race perk.

Course: B+: A small tweak from last year eliminated a couple of the turns, which was certainly a positive, but crowd management was an issue for all 3.1 miles.  Just over 1,000 runners finished this year’s event, but it felt like it was much larger than that.  The post race party also was hampered a bit by the number of runners and limited space.  The earlier you finished the race, the easier it was to get beer and sliders.

Overall: B+: Very fun post race party with a great spread, downtown course, and the proceeds from the event goes to St. Jude.  You cannot argue with any of that.  However, I would love to see the race incorporate an earlier start time to alleviate some of the Memphis heat.  I am certain that I will participate in this event again (I was not certain of this at 9:35 am this morning), but hopefully it will be more like 2013 than 2014 for me.