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!

 

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Oak Barrel Half Marathon Race Recap

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Saturday was the Oak Barrel Half Marathon, which was my 7th half marathon overall.  The race is held on the first Saturday of April each year in Lynchburg, TN.  For those of you that don’t know, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey is distilled in Lynchburg, and this fact definitely has an influence over the event.

Post race on the square

Post race on the square. And since it is opening week, I had to rep my Braves gear!

I did a course preview last week, so I will not get into that too deeply again.  I will say, however, that after running the course for myself, they were not over-hyping Whiskey Hill.  That hill was intense and definitely a challenge!  But, it was great to experience a different type of course than I am accustomed to.

The day started off cold and early.  Temps were around 37 degrees when I pulled up to Lynchburg an hour and a half before the race start.  I got there so early to secure parking and because Lynchburg is not a large town, and the only way to get there is via two lane, winding roads.  The race is limited to roughly 1,500 participants due to the road situation as well as a scarcity of parking.  I had time to kill, so I talked to Susan on my phone.  This was the first race that she did not attend with me, so at least we talked a bit beforehand.

I picked up my race packet the night before, and honestly, when I do this race again, I will just wait until the morning of the event.  Packet pickup was well-organized, both the day of the race and the day prior.  The Friday packet pickup was held at the distillery, and all runners there before 4:30 pm could take in the sights of the distillery in addition to picking up their packet.  On Saturday morning, the race organizers had a key drop off for runners.  It was set up just like a bag check, but instead of trying to wrangle someone’s post race wardrobes, toiletries, and such, Zip Lock bags with corresponding bib tags were used to store car keys.

The race started just off the town square, and runners were separated by self-projected pace.  Honestly, this race was one of the better ones in runners accurately lining themselves up.  I did pass some walkers that lined up in the elite corrals, but not nearly as bad as previous races.

The hill is so famous that it has a name and Facebook page!

The hill is so famous that it has a name and Facebook page!

The first four miles, I ran at a consistent pace, conserving energy and sticking close to what my typical half marathon pace is.  There was just one small, but steep hill, but that really is nothing our of the ordinary.  Then came mile four and Whiskey Hill!  It was steeper than I anticipated, and definitely every bit the challenge that is was billed as.  I started running up the hill, but quickly realized that I would use too much energy with this approach and walked up the last half of the biggest incline of the hill.  At mile five, I started running once again, and my legs were very grateful for my caution on the incline.  Miles six through nine were at the higher elevation, but there was not much climbing or descending.  Mile nine through twelve were steadily downhill and the last mile was flat.  I owned the last five miles, earning negative splits in the four of the five miles, including my fastest three miles!  The one mile in the last five that was not a negative split missed it be a few seconds, and these were directly attributed to my last water stop.

The finish was on the town square, where there was a band and several post race refreshment stands set up.  After getting my bottle of water and awesome medal at the finish line, I retrieved my keys, grabbed a chocolate milk and waited in line to get my race socks and hat.  After getting the extra swag, I tried some homemade scones that were given out and sampled the other food items.  I did not have a pair of shoes to switch into from my running shoes and I am dealing with some toe discomfort, so I did not stay in the festival as long as I would like.  It was well-organized and worth checking out.

They hook you up with swag!

They hook you up with swag!

Swag: A+: Awesome “medal” which is made to resemble an oak barrel.  Fitting, huh? It is big, has plenty of character, and as I told Susan, it is my best smelling medal since it is made of wood with the design burned into it.  I have run in fours races this year in which I received a medal, and three of them knocked it out of the park, including this one.  Runners also got an awesome 1/4 zip pullover before the race and a pair of Swiftwick socks and a race hat upon finishing the course.

My awesome race medal!

My awesome race medal!

Course: A+:  Yes, Whiskey Hill sucked, but that is a part of the charm of the race.  They make no bones about the fact that there is a gigantic hill in the middle of the course that will challenge you.  If it were easy, everyone would run it!  Beyond that, the course was very scenic, and the few instances where cars had to come through, it was handled great.  There were also plenty of water and Gatorade stations and if you needed to shed a layer of clothing, you could drop it off with race volunteers and get it back after the race.  The course and support were top-notch and well thought out.

Overall: A+: This was one of the best events that I have been a part of.  Keeping the event to around 1,500 participants is a necessity, but certainly helps the race organizers do this.  If I lived closer, this would be a no-brainer, every year event.  As it stands now, when I can work it in, I will, and I will certainly return for the seven-year anniversary in two years.  Anyone that is familiar with Jack Daniel’s knows that the number seven is a big deal, so I imagine that it will be for the race as well.

Oak Barrel Half Marathon Course Preview

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Saturday I will be running in the Oak Barrel Half Marathon for the first time.  The race takes place in Lynchburg, TN, which is in Middle Tennessee and has a much more hilly terrain than here in Memphis.  Lynchburg is also the home of Jack Daniels Whiskey, even though it is in a dry county.  Jack Daniels is a title sponsor of the event and my trip there this weekend will include a tour of their facility after packet pickup on Friday.  I will do my usual post race recap about the event, but the more I read about this race, the more anxious I get about the course.  It should  be challenging, beautiful, and fun.  For those of you unfamiliar with the terrain, I thought I would share what I will be facing on Saturday.

The hill is so famous that it has a name and Facebook page!

The hill is so famous that it has a name and Facebook page!

The major obstacle is dubbed Whiskey Hill, which is appropriate for Lynchburg.  Whiskey Hill even has its own Facebook page and is the feature of the course that separates the race from others in Middle Tennessee.  The Oak Barrel website says the following about the course:

  • This is NOT a flat course.

  • There is one character building hill (Whiskey Hill) that starts at about mile 4.

  • Whiskey Hill is a gradual climb for about a mile.  The last little bit of it however gets very steep.  The steep part is very short.

  • There is one other hill that is very short.

  • There is a gradual downhill section that runs from about mile 9 to 12.

  • The last mile is flat.

They do not mince words there, now do they?  They also warn runners that this is not a PR course, but rather enjoy the challenge and the beauty of the course.  That is my plan.  I have no specific time goals, but rather  I want to enjoy the run and experience.  This course will definitely help me mentally prepare for the Country Music Half Marathon at the end of the month.

The advertised course with elevation.

The advertised course with elevation.

As you can tell for the photo of the course, Whiskey Hill dominates the course.  You are basically running up a ridge, and then back down.  So as that steep climb begins, I will be certain to remind myself that what goes up, must come down.  This will not be like your grandparents’ stories of walking to school uphill both ways.  Also my current PR is on the hilliest course that I have ever run, so I will be reminding myself of that as well.

The race medals have not been advertised yet, but they are made of oak, resembling oak barrels.  Apparently you can have the Jack Daniels Master Distiller sign your race medal, which if this is the case, I will certainly do that because it is different from other races.

2014 Running Goals

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2013 was a successful year of running for me.  I achieved multiple goals and pushed myself to new levels.  But more on this in my year-end recap post, which will most likely be published sometime tomorrow.  Today’s post is about the upcoming year and what I hope to accomplish.  I am hoping to continue to build upon my successes in 2013 with my 2014 campaign.  These goals are going to be in addition to my 2014 goal of completing at least one RAK (Random Act of Kindness) per day in 2014.  More about this endeavor here and my progress will be tracked here.  Now onto the goals!

This is my ultimate goal!

This is my ultimate goal!

Run a Marathon.

        This goal will be realized within the first two weeks of the year when I complete the Walt Disney World Marathon on January 12.  This is probably my biggest goal of the year and it will be reached to launch my year of running.  I read somewhere that less than 1% of the population has completed a marathon, so it would be some great company to be associated with.  I am already getting antsy about the race and I am really looking forward to the run.
This is going to take some getting used to.

This is going to take some getting used to.

 

  1. Redeem My Germantown Half Marathon.  I did not complete this race last year due to my peroneal tendonitis and had to walk the 5K instead.  This tends to be a race that several runners PR, but that is not my goal.  Rather, I just want to be able to complete the 13.1 miles that I could not complete last year.

    We shall see!

    We shall see!

  2. Become a Tough Mudder and a Spartan.  I ran the Warrior Dash last year, and I loved it.  I wanted to try some more obstacle races, but none come to Memphis, so there is the added expense of traveling to the race.  I have already scheduled trips to Nashville for Tough Mudder in June and Tampa for the Spartan Sprint in February.  These events seem to be even tougher than the Warrior Dash and will certainly push me further.  Susan is still not convinced that I should run in the Tough Mudder, but the registration has been paid for, so it is all systems go.
  3. Try New Races.  I presently do not have a set number of new races to try, but I already have six new races added to my schedule, with prospects for at least three more new ones.  We will see how this goal progresses, but I imagine being in double digits of new races in 2014.
  4. Run More Half Marathons in 2014 Than My Entire Life Prior.  I have officially completed five half marathons in my running history.  This number could have been seven, but due to injury in March and ice in December, the number remains at five.  I have already scheduled three half marathons with the Germantown Half in March and the Oak Barrel 13.1 and Country Music Half Marathon, both in April.  Also, I will be running the St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon again in December and I hope to run the Disneyland Half in August and Greenline Half in October.  We shall see.  There are a few other attractive options as well.

    Log 1,000 miles in 2014

    Log 1,000 miles in 2014

  5. Run At Least 1,000 Miles.  This may be aggressive for the year, but I ran over 800 miles this year, which included an injury that sidelined me for a month and required a slow rehab to get to running again.  The monthly total this goal will require is 83.33 miles.  I was near or above this total in all months except February, March, April, and May, which coincides with my injury.  Spreading out my half marathons will help with my mileage goal as well.
  6. Focus On Cross Training.  I have TRX straps and get the Spartan Race WOD emailed to me so I do not have a real excuse for the lack of cross training that I am doing.  Cross training will aid in my running and overall fitness, therefore it should be higher on my priority list.  Also, with a Warrior Dash, Spartan Race, and Tough Mudder on my agenda, a focus on my fitness besides running is going to be paramount to my success.  I am also thinking about doing CrossFit once the WDW Marathon has been completed.  My uncle-in-law (is this a thing?) does CrossFit and he raves about the benefits.  Of course, most people who do CrossFit talk about it non-stop (like us runners, I suppose) and it seems to be its own culture.
  7. Continue My Race a Month Schedule.  I have loved running a race each month this year, and my current race streak is at 14 months, so continuing this streak will be added to my running goals.  I will probably run less races in 2014 than 2013 since I will be focusing on more substantial races and not incurring the cost of the several smaller races.  I will still run in a few 5K’s, but just not as many as in 2013.  Also, I will do very few, if any virtual races in 2014 this year.  They were a great motivator for me this year, but I do not need them anymore and the whole concept has jumped the shark a little bit.  They help raise money for some great charities, but the market is now saturated and the impact has been diminished.
  8. Complete At Least One Pull Up.  This will go with my focus on cross training, but I have never been able to complete a pull up.  We would have to do pull ups in gym class and football when I was younger, but I could never get my chin over the bar.  My peers would have a good time with the fat kid hanging on the bar, unable to even do one pull up, so for my personal pride, I want to complete at least one unassisted pull up by December 31, 2014.  This is not exactly a running goal, but it is associated with my overall fitness, so I included it.

This is my current slate of running and fitness goals for 2014.  I have scheduled several events already for 2014 and I am looking at multiple others as well.  I am hoping for another successful year in 2014, building upon my knowledge and experiences from this past year.

Races I Can’t Run This Year

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I got a Facebook update yesterday from the Navy Ten Nautical Miler stating that this year’s race is a causality of the Sequestration.  That means a very well received race in the Memphis area is no more, at least for this year, and any early registrants will have their registration fees refunded to them.  It is sad news, but honestly, I wasn’t going to be able to run the race this year anyway, but hopefully it will return next June.  But this got me to thinking about races I wanted to run this year but could not due to injury or scheduling conflicts.  The following is some of those races:

  • Germantown Half Marathon: peroneal tendonitis sidelined me for this, I might run it next year
  • Oak Barrel Half Marathon: peroneal tendonitis sidelined me for this one as well, but it would have been difficult to run it anyway since I was hoping to be one of the final 100 registrants for the race and those slots were sold in under one minute!  I will do my best to add this to next year’s itinerary.
  • Flying Pig Half Marathon: big race in Cincinnati, OH that I couldn’t financially swing this year.
  • Navy Ten Nautical Miler: travel schedule and the Sequestration eliminated it this year.
  • Hero Rush: fireman themed obstacle race with various locations around the country, but the one in Tennessee is the same day that I will be running the Warrior Dash in Jackson, MS.  Maybe next year.
  • Key East Half Marathon: Susan and I went to Key West on a part of our honeymoon and the town was a blast, so any excuse to return is a good one to me.  Maybe 2015 (WDW Marathon will be in January 2014).
  • Spartan Race: another obstacle race that I would like to do, but they don’t have any near Memphis, and traveling to one this year is not going to happen.  They offer three different distances (not at each location though) for different levels of competitors, which is a good idea.

There are a couple races not mentioned above, but it is no certainty that I run them this year.  Susan is a little skeptical about me running in either of these events, but I want to try both eventually.  They are as follows:

  • Tough Mudder: this seems to be the biggest and baddest of the obstacle runs out there, and even requires you to sign a death waiver!  Now the waiver is probably a mix of hype for the race as well as a preventative measure in case something does happen.  The problem is the three closest locations are at least five hours away, and the Georgia and Kentucky events pose scheduling conflicts for me.
  • Tupelo 14.2 Miler: Labor Day weekend this year, so the timing works, but it is very hot on September 1 in this area, even at 5 in the morning, and the training prior to the event will occur in even hotter temperatures.  However, I will be two months into my marathon training, so maybe working this in will be a little easier.

Just writing this post has got me itching to get this boot off even more and get back to training at 100% capacity.  I am exactly one month away from running my first Warrior Dash, and I don’t want to embarrass myself on the course.