MRTC RRS Road Warrior Addendum

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I feel like I have beaten the topic of the MRTC Road Race Series to death on this blog over the past few months, so what would one more post hurt?

The additional swag earned for becoming a 2014 Road Warrior

The additional swag earned for becoming a 2014 Road Warrior

Back on January 10 was the winter party that celebrates the entire series, and I attended the party briefly that evening. The party is where runners could pick up any swag that they might have earned and the yearly MRTC awards are handed out. There is a pasta buffet and beer available. If I were not traveling to Memphis from Mississippi I might have tried to make an evening of it. But with the travel and the large amount of people at the venue, I took my swag and left. I did, however, talk with some people who went and they enjoyed themselves even though there was a large delay in the food and beverage lines. But since I did not attend the entire evening, I am not going to review the party beyond this.

Road Warrior 74.8 decal

Road Warrior 74.8 decal

The swag changes each year for runners that qualify as a Road Warrior (complete all 10 races) or Series Finisher (complete 1 of each distance or 6 total races in series). For the 2014 event, Road Warriors earned a seat cover, car coaster, trophy, and 74.8 decal. They did not have the decals at the winter party, and this was causing a meltdown for several of the people I know that earned it. It is a major point of pride and honor to display this highly coveted decal in the Memphis area. You endure heat, cold, rain, hangovers, travel, and dedicate four months to the series, so finishing is something runners love to show off. Thankfully, the decals eventually came in and were available for pick up once the rest of the race swag was made available for those who could not attend the winter party or if they arrived late to the winter party and the swag was gone. The Series Finishers received seat covers only.

The 2014 MRTC RRS race shirt

The 2014 MRTC RRS race shirt

My initial reaction the seat covers was meh, but then when I started to think about it, I realized the value in the item. I usually bring a towel along for races to cover my seats after a race for the drive home. Now, I can use the seat cover, and not worry about jostling with the towel on the entire drive to keep the seat covered.

2014 Year in Running Review

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2014 proves to be a very busy year in my running journey. I was able to maintain my minimum of one race per month for the entire year, which pushes my monthly race streak to 26 months and counting, with races scheduled for the first 4 months of 2015 as well. I eclipsed 1,000 miles (actually 1,001.69 miles) for the first time in my life, and racked up quite a bit of race swag. I completed my first ever (maybe last, maybe not) marathon to launch the year, and double the amount of my lifetime half marathon races this year alone. I established and broke a PR in 7 races this year, and managed to finish in the top 3 in my age group at 3 different races. I also completed the Coast to Coast Challenge by Disney and my first Spartan Race.

2014 in race shirts

2014 in race shirts

2014 Stats: 1,001.69 Miles, 1 Marathon, 10 Half Marathons, 1 Nautical 10 Miler, 2 10 Milers, 3 10K’s, 2 5 Milers, 1 6K, 10 5K’s, 1 Spartan Race, 7 PR’s, 3 AG Finishes

2014 WDW Marathon Medal

2014 WDW Marathon Medal

January: 97.22 Miles – 1 race, 1 PR, the WDW Marathon, which was my first ever marathon, which meant automatic PR!

High fiving Mickey at the finish line - this is such a great feeling

High fiving Mickey at the finish line – this is such a great feeling

February: 59.20 Miles – 1 race, the Special Ops Spartan Sprint in Tampa, FL.

Both of the Spartan Race medals

Both of the Spartan Race medals

March: 69.15 Miles – 3 races, Germantown Half Marathon, Race for Recovery and the Glo Run 5K’s.

Very nice looking medal

Very nice looking medal

April: 76.75 Miles – 3 half marathons, Oak Barrel 13.1, Doc Rock Hal, and Country Music Half Marathon.

My awesome race medal!

My awesome race medal!

This medal is good, can't compete with Germantown or Oak Barrel

This medal is good, can’t compete with Germantown or Oak Barrel

Country Music Half Marathon Finisher's Medal

Country Music Half Marathon Finisher’s Medal

May: 89.52 Miles – 2 races, 1 PR, 1 Age Group Top 3 Finish, Running of the Rams 5K (PR, 3rd in my AG) and the West Tennessee Warrior Half Marathon.

3rd Place Male 30-34 Medal!

3rd Place Male 30-34 Medal!

West Tennessee Warrior Run Medal

West Tennessee Warrior Run Medal

June: 66.75 Miles – 1 race, 1 PR, the Navy Ten Nautical Miler, which was another PR by virtue of a new distance!

10NMMedal
July: 86.08 Miles – 2 races, both of the MRTC Road Race Series 5K’s, I also joined the USMC Fitness Boot Camp for cross training and fitness purposes.

USMC Fitness Boot Camp
August: 98.71 Miles – 7 races, 1 PR, both 5 Milers in the MRTC RRS (PR set via new distance), Elvis Presley 5K, Breakaway Bardog 5K, Hit and Run 5K, Disneyland 10K, Disneyland Half Marathon, thus completing the Coast to Coast and Dumbo Challenges!

Elvis Presley 5K Finisher's Medal

Elvis Presley 5K Finisher’s Medal

Disneyland 10K Medal

Disneyland 10K Medal

Disneyland Half Marathon Medal

Disneyland Half Marathon Medal

Dumbo Double Dare Medal

Dumbo Double Dare Medal

2014 Coast to Coast Medal

2014 Coast to Coast Medal

September: 54.73 Miles – 2 races, both the 10K’s for the MRTC RRS.
October: 104.44 Miles – 3 races, 1 PR, both the 10 Milers for the MRTC RRS (New distance = new PR), and the Greenline Half Marathon.

Finisher's medal for the 2014 Greenline Half Marathon

Finisher’s medal for the 2014 Greenline Half Marathon

November: 97.03 Miles – 4 races, 2 PR’s, 1 AG Finish, 1 Road Warrior Status, both Half Marathons in the MRTC RRS (thus achieving Road Warrior Status, True Blue 5K (another PR at this course), and Heroes in Recovery 6K (PR and 2nd in my AG).

AG Award and Medal

AG Award and Medal

December: 102.11 Miles – 2 races, 1 AG Finish, St. Jude Half Marathon, Run Run Rudolph 5K (3rd in my AG).

Far and away the best medal that the event has ever offered.

Far and away the best medal that the event has ever offered.

3rd Place AG Award

3rd Place AG Award

It was a very productive, and healthy 2014 for me, and I hope to be able to build upon it in 2015. All race recaps have been linked on my 2014 Page if you want to find out anything further about these events and my experiences.

I hope everyone has a happy and healthy New Year’s celebration!

 

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!

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.

MRTC 10 Miler #2 Recap

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Sunday was the second 10 miler in the MRTC Road Race Series an it was not my best running effort. I was going on two hours of sleep due to the Ole Miss and Tennessee game and the nightmare traffic following the game the previous night. It ended up after the race that I spent nearly as much time running as I did sleeping during that twenty-four hour period. I was very proud to finish in the upright position, injury free.

The 2014 MRTC RRS race shirt

The 2014 MRTC RRS race shirt

This was my second close call at losing Road Warrior status. It would have been so easy to turn off my alarm ans just sleep through the morning. I am happy that I fought that urge and got motivated to make the forty-five minute trek to Shelby Forrest to run the hills.

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

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

All that stands between me and Road Warrior status are the two half marathons for the series on November 2 and November 16!

MRTC Road Race Series 10 Miler #1

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Sunday was race number 7 in the MRTC Road Race Series. The race was the first 10 miler of the series and was held at Meeman-Shelby Forrest State Park.  The park is a well-kept secret in the Memphis community, partially because of the location.  The park is in a remote part of the county a good 45 minutes from my house.

The 2014 MRTC RRS race shirt

The 2014 MRTC RRS race shirt

When I arrived, it was still pitch black and cold.  A severe 180 from the first 6 races of the series.  I was not complaining about this. I think that this race is where people start dropping out of contention for the road warrior designation.  The race was noticeably smaller than the 10K 2 weeks ago, and I noticed on the results page that number of runners that have completed all 7 races has dwindled down into the 700’s.

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

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

The course is billed as the prettiest in the entire series, and I would agree with that.  The entire race is on the service roads and trails in Shelby Forrest, with quite a bit of nature’s scenery. Most years the leaves are already changing for this race, but with the warm September that we had, the trees were still very green. The course is certainly hilly, with a very steep hill between miles 9 and 10.  It was so steep in fact that the trail was actually a switchback so we could make the climb.

At the end of the race, I was still feeling good, and I am certain that the cooler weather helped with that.  Also, since this was my first 10 mile race, it was an instant PR, which is always a great thing!  Sadly, this race, the last 10K, and the next 10 miler follow long days of watching and tailgating for football, which leads to less than ideal running prep.

I cannot wait until the next race since I know what to expect from the course and hills.  Maybe I can edge out my time from this past Sunday.

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 10K #1 Recap

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Sunday was the first 10K in the 2014 MRTC Road Race Series.  The 10K’s are held at Shelby Farms, which might be the best course and worst parking combo in the entire series.  This year’s course did deviate from previous years because Shelby Farms is undergoing substantial renovations.  The fact that the course was different was mentioned. Repeatedly. In fact, it got to the point that I just wanted the guy to shut up and let us run.

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

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

Side note: the entire series carries a hubris that is somewhat off-putting to new runners.  I have never run this race before, so I have no clue where the course used to go, so referencing the changes on the course based on the previous course does not give me any idea where I should actually go. I get that several of the runners in the series are repeat runners, but obviously they all are not, so at least give us rookies some tangible direction.

The weather finally cooperated for this race, and we enjoyed running in 60-70 degree temperatures.  The humidity was still high, but it is Memphis, so that is to be expected.  The course was mainly in the park, but due to the construction, we did log some time outside of the park.  The early stages of the race were congested, as usual, but it seemed like there were fewer people at this race than the previous ones.  This might be the trend with the distances increasing, other fall races starting, and football season getting in full swing.  I guess we shall see.

Parking was a nightmare.  And not because there was a lack a spaces, but rather where the parking was.  Runners were required to park along the race course, which was a logistical nightmare.  Just imagine 500 runners still on the course as the other 500 are trying to get into their cars and drive along the course to get home.  It does not go that smoothly.  I get that there are space issues currently in the park, but communicating for this could have been handled better.

The 2014 MRTC RRS race shirt

The 2014 MRTC RRS race shirt

Race shirts for the series were handed out at this event as well.  The shirts are moisture wicking, but they honestly feel more like a cotton shirt than a traditional tech shirt.  I am going to use it at boot camp and see how it does.

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! 

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.