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!

2015 Country Music Half Marathon

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Another half marathon, regardless of how slow I ran it (it is now my personal worst finish, but we will examine this in a later post), is in the books. Saturday marked my second consecutive year of surviving the hills of Nashville in the late April humidity. The weather could have been worse, the predicted storms could have come through, ravishing the course and participants, but luckily all we had to endure was humidity at the start, and actually was blessed with a reprieve from the sun beating us down along the course. The temperature remained relatively cool, especially for late April in the south.

2015 Country Music Half Marathon Finisher's Medal

2015 Country Music Half Marathon Finisher’s Medal

There were over 30,000 participants for the day’s activities, and while at times, it certainly felt like you were around 30,000 other people, the event does a good job of managing the masses. There is plenty of parking at LP Field, especially if you arrive early, which is something I always try to do. Traffic is a beast, but that cannot be avoided in Nashville. The city is designed in such a way that traffic delays are unavoidable, especially during major events. If you have some knowledge of the side streets, you can circumvent some of the delays, which will certainly help your stress level. The event had 43 starting corrals to spread us out along the course, which certainly helped with the early congestion in the race. I was in corral 19 which meant I started about 35 minutes after the elite runners. The standing and waiting for your race to begin is not ideal, but it certainly beats trying to funnel 30,000+ people along city streets and through water stations. I cannot even imagine the chaos that would ensue without the wave start!

An area that the event could improve its crowd management is with the porta-potties, beer ID check, and post race refreshments. On my walk from the parking lot to my starting corral, I only saw four clusters of less than 20 porta-potties within each cluster. For 30,000+ people, this can create some issues. Especially when units begin to run out of toilet paper, which happened around 6:15 for the units closest to the parking lot. To get your ID checked for the post race beer, you had to stand in a long line at the expo. Maybe checking ID’s at the bib pickup location could help? I do not know for sure, but several people skipped the ID tent because they did not want to wait in line for their 21 and over bracelet. The finish line was a huge cluster. People were trying to stretch, refuel, and meet up with their families in a very finite space that was constantly adding new people to it. It felt like runners were being herded like cattle from receiving our medals to the various refueling options, around the corner to the beer tents. Honestly, the process would have probably worked better if the race could have used the facilities inside LP Field, not just around it.

Yep, my iPhone equated the hills to roughly 54 flights of stairs. My Fitbit placed the hills at over 60 flights of stairs.

Yep, my iPhone equated the hills to roughly 54 flights of stairs. My Fitbit placed the hills at over 60 flights of stairs.

Course: B: It was hilly, but we knew that going into the event. There were bands throughout the course and quite a bit of crowd support. Water stops were frequent and there was GU at mile 11, which is where the marathon and half marathon split up. The wave start helps to maintain the crowd considerably along the course, with only minor issues when the course goes through a residential neighborhood towards the middle. The course incorporates music row and downtown, which are areas everyone wants to see in Nashville.

2015 shirt, bib, and medal

2015 shirt, bib, and medal

Swag: A-: I like the medal, the shirt is good, but not great, and the post race refueling was plentiful. Rock ‘n Roll events are expensive, so it is nice to know that you got your money’s worth once you finish the event.

Nashville is known for its hot chicken, so of course that is how I refueled after the race!

Nashville is known for its hot chicken, so of course that is how I refueled after the race! This meal was consumed at Hattie B’s Hot Chicken. It was excellent.

Overall: A: Managing an event for 30,000+ people is not easy. There are going to be complications to address. Lines will be long, the crowds will be dense. The expo was a great example of this. There were numerous vendors there, but getting to each one could be a chore. I loved the expo, and I scored a few much-needed running items on the cheap. I really do enjoy this race, even though it is a challenge for those of us flatlanders that get kicked in the teeth by the hills. I have run in this event before, and I will run in it again. And maybe next year, I will be closer to my 2014 results, and not this year’s disappointing finish.

And on a side note, if you like fried chicken and spicy flavorings, Nashville has you covered. I loved the hot chicken at Hattie B’s, and will also be making a return trip there in the future!

I am a Rock ‘n Blog Ambassador for 2015 and I ran this race as such. It in no way skewed or influenced my reflections of this event (you can check last year’s review for that confirmation). All views and opinions within this blog are my own. 

2015 Murray Half Marathon Recap

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Last weekend I was able to run a half marathon in a town about as close as possible to my hometown, which was great. I was able to stay with my parents, have a home-cooked meal, and relax in a house rather than a hotel. The race also happened to be in Kentucky, which enabled me to cross off another state in my running journey, which is now at six states for the half marathon distance.

Start line before the race began

Start line before the race began

Going into this race, I had no idea what to expect. It was a small town race in its fifth year of existence, with under 1,000 registered runners. It could be great, it could be terrible, and it could be something in between. You never know what the crowd support will be like and how capable the RD will be (this can be true at big races, as well). After running the race, I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by the crowd support. There was a spirit competition for supports at the water stops and other areas across the course, several locals were about to cheer us along, and the race went along smoothly.

Soem of the Murray Spirit Teams

Some of the Murray Spirit Teams

The weather started cool, and warmed throughout the morning. The early fear was that there were going to be storms on race morning, but those fears were unfounded. The sun was out for the entire race, which actually began to take its toll on me. As the miles racked up, so did the humidity and sunshine, and my mental state did not endure. This mental deterioration also accompanied the course going primarily rural. But I finished the race, and that was the goal!

Course: B+: The course was a combination of residential and rural, with crowd support along the entire course. There were plenty of water stops, and even Cliff Blocks at some of the water stations. There was no bottle-necking along the course, even at the start and the out and back stretch through a local park. There were more hills than I expected, and as my mental state waned, it felt as if we were only going uphill (which I know is not true, but it did feel that way).

2015 Murray Half Marathon Finisher's Medal

2015 Murray Half Marathon Finisher’s Medal

Swag: A: The medal has a classic look, with a design on both sides. The shirt was made from technical material and the design plays well on both the shirt and medal. The bibs had the runners’ full names and hometown on them, which was a first for me. Several races will have your first name or nickname, but not a full name. The expo was small, but was packed with vendors. The goody bag had several samples, including a free car wash and multiple pain relief remedies.

2015 bib, shirt, and medal for the Murray Half Marathon

2015 bib, shirt, and medal for the Murray Half Marathon

Overall: A-: Great race, with plenty of support. The post race was fun, with plenty of items. Parking was tight near the start line, but runners could use the parking lot at the football stadium for Murray State University and be shuttled to and from the race. The only issue with the shuttle was that the pickup location was not clearly marked, so several us missed the first pickup. The race also had chip timing rather than gun timing, which is not a given for a small town race.

I would do this event again in the future, even if it was not so close to my parents’ house.

MRTC RRS 10K #2 Recap

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It has been several days since the second 10K in the MRTC Road Race Series, so I think I should go ahead and write-up my race recap.  There is nothing new that I can really add to this recap that was not covered in my recap for the first 10K.  Parking sucked, it was a crowded course at the start, and it was hot and humid (a theme for the series as a whole).

The 2014 MRTC RRS race shirt

The 2014 MRTC RRS race shirt

I did not run quite as strong for this race as the previous one.  I finished roughly three minutes slower for this race.  This could be contributed to the up tick in humidity and my attending the Memphis football game the previous evening.  The football game may have involved a few adult beverages, and I certainly was not in prime running from at 7:00 am.

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

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

The series is now 60% completed, therefore I qualify for the series finisher’s item and I am staring down that road warrior status.  Of course, I have only completed 28.6 of the 74.8 miles required to gain road warrior status, so there are still some miles to log!

MRTC RRS 5 Miler #1

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This morning was the third race in the Memphis Runners Track Club Race Series, and it was my first ever 5 miler race.  And just the last two races, this morning’s race was hot and humid. But unlike the race two weeks ago, I was better prepared for the humidity this morning.  That does not mean that it was a particularly comfortable run, but I did run five strong miles and have something let in the tank for another run tonight.

The 5 miler is held at W. J. Freeman park in Bartlett so the course is not nearly as close to my house as the 5K’s are, but the parking was much better.  The course is mostly neighborhood streets with the finish coming on the walking path at the park.  And there is more shade throughout the course, which certainly helps on these humid days.

Run 365 group photo at the race

Run 365 group photo at the race

A few less runners completed the course today when compared to the 5K’s, but there still was 1,200 people running today, several of which are still aspiring to achieve Road Warrior status.  Managing the crowds early in the race is as big of a challenge as the heat and humidity for these events.  The course had several turns which led to some bottle-necking early on and towards the end, we had to dodge several of the faster finishers that thought that returning to their car via the race course was a prudent move.  It was not, but oh well.

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

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

Best news about this morning’s race is that I set a PR with my 50:17 finish! Of course, no matter how fast I ran, it would have been a PR since this was my first attempt at a 5 mile race.  This is an odd distance, and I will not have many opportunities to beat this mark.  Maybe I can do even better in two weeks at the second MRTC RRS 5 Miler.

MRTC Road Race Series 5K #2

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

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

This morning was the second race, and second 5K in the Memphis Runners Track Club Road Race Series.  And while the temperature was not quite as high as 2 weeks ago, the humidity was absolutely oppressive.  By the end of the race, I looked like I had completed a 5K in a pool, not the street.  Add this to my miscalculation not to drive to the event, but rather run/jog/walk to it, and I had a miserable morning.

I had my doubts

I had my doubts

I decided to go to the race on foot because I needed a long day according to my training plan, so I thought that adding the 2.5 miles each way to the venue plus the race, and I would almost have my mileage done.  Instead, it accelerated my sweating process, and after mile 1 of the race, the wheels fell off.  I ended up run/walking to my worst 5K finish in 3 years.  There was not a dry stitch of clothing on my body, including my shoes and socks  And I still had to get home!

This was me

This was me today.

In the end, I finished close to the same spot as I did 2 weeks ago, so I am guessing that I am not the only person that was sacked by the humidity.  I am, however, 1/5 of the way towards the coveted road warrior status, and will hopefully run stronger in 2 weeks for the first 5 mile race of the series.