2014 True Blue 5K Recap

Standard

This is my fifth consecutive year of running in this event. It was my first ever race back in 2010, and now I run in it each year to celebrate where I have come from to be an active runner. I love the course through the University of Memphis, and the weather is usually cool, and with the race being on a Friday night, it opens up the rest of my weekend for other events.

I have written so much about this race before that there is not much more that I can say that avid followers of my blog have not read before.

TrueBlueSwag

Back of the 2014 race shirt. The front had the logo from the bib small and over the heart.

Swag: B: They changed the race shirt this year which is the first change in five years. They stuck with the long sleeved cotton tee, which is very popular, but the overall design is not as good as previous years. But it is different, and a different color than my previous four shirts, so that is good.

Course: A+: I love that it runs around campus, including my old fraternity house.  For alumni returning to campus, it is a nice way to see what has changed since graduation.  It also is not too hilly of a course and is plenty wide to accommodate runners.  Runners finish in a giant inflatable tiger head on the Alumni Mall.

Overall: A+: I will always be partial to this race due to its significance in my weight loss and running.  It is always organized well and provides good value for the runner.  If I ever moved away, it would be a 5K that actually tempted me to visit specifically run.

True Blue 5K Race Logo

True Blue 5K Race Logo

Another note about this race is that in the five times that I have run in the 5K, I have set a PR three times! This year’s race saw me cut :23 off of my 5K PR time, which was very rewarding.

Advertisements

Zoom Through The Zoo

Standard

Last night was the Zoom Through the Zoo event here in Memphis.  The event is quite popular amongst Memphis runners and last night was my first opportunity to participate in the event.  The event is usually held on the Thursday before Memorial Day Weekend, which also means that it is the night before another hugely popular Memphis Zoo event, Zoo Brew, which I also will be attending for the first time this year.  Very odd that Susan and I were zoo members, but did not attend these events last year.  Both events help fund some of the amazing exhibits that the Memphis Zoo produces, and I am on board for anything that helps shine a positive light on Memphis.

The event was scheduled to start at 6:30 pm last night, and being that it is Memphis in late May, that meant there would be heat and humidity.  But all of us racers knew this in advance, and it is something you must deal with for the next few months in the Bluff City.  We did, however, catch a little bit of a break with the weather since the night before the race, the temperature was 90 degrees at 6:30 pm and the humidity was significantly higher.  So we enjoyed our 82 degree race start!

The race brags about its unique course through the zoo and the access that you would not otherwise get, but this may have been a bit of an exaggeration.  You do get to run through the zoo, but at least half of the course is actually through the adjacent Overton Park running trails that are used by several Memphis races.  But, it is a four mile race, and there is only so much useable real estate in the zoo, so unless you are going to cut the field to 200 people, you must utilize other resources.  809 people registered online for the event before last night, and that number swelled to 1509 by the time the race started last night.  With this many people in a confined space, you are going to have issues.  I made the rookie mistake of not forcing myself closer to the front of the line, so I was stuck behind several walkers and it took nearly two miles on the narrow course for me to pass the walkers.  This caused some crazy splits for my race, and my pace time actually went down from mile to mile, with the first mile being my slowest by nearly two minutes!  I also had to tie my shoe twice during the first two miles since I have been lazy and not ordered any Lock Laces yet despite having them agree to donate to St. Jude on my behalf (use promo code KYLEJUDE), but I fixed that problem last night!

The finish line was the zoo entrance and from there, you could find the water stations, post race buffet, and beer garden.  In theory, this was well-organized because you had tabs on your race bib for food and two beers, so entry should go smooth.  The problem is 1,500 people is an overwhelming amount of people, especially in the area in which we were, and when you factor in family members, this just became a huge mess of people.  The food line was easy to get into, but the water and beer lines were not.  They only had one area for bottled water and I was herded away from that, so I fought to get a cup at the water station.  The post race buffet was BBQ, beans, slaw, and brownies, that’s it.  I was a little surprised that there was no fruit to be found.  The beer line was ridiculous, and I decided that I did not need a Budweiser so bad to stand in a line probably 100 deep, so I just left.

You won't see unused beer tabs often for me post race.

You won’t see unused beer tabs often for me post race.

The only race swag was a t-shirt for the event.  The rest of the goodie bag was ads for four upcoming races, the other three in the M-Town Series and one that I have not seen advertised anywhere yet.  But this was not a marathon, so extravagant goodie bags should not be expected, but it was odd that there wasn’t anything from the zoo in there or a Memphis race staple, Chik-Fil-A coupons.

2013 Race Shirt

2013 Race Shirt

Every year the theme of the Zoom Through the Zoo race is based on some major happening at the zoo.  Last year was a dinosaur theme (the year I really should have run the event for the first time) since there was an animontronic dinosaur exhibit here, a few years ago when Memphis first got its pair of panda bears, Le Le and Ya Ya, that was the theme.  This year marks the 20th anniversary of Cat Country at the zoo, so naturally that was the theme and the cheetah was emblazoned upon the shirts.

While it may not be the best race in town, it is a good one, and one that I will run again in the future, it for nothing else, to redeem my finish time of 42:03!  But, on the bright side, this finish is a PR since this is my first 4 miler race!

Move It Memphis 10K

Standard

I ran the Move It Memphis 10K, which was my first 10K, so by default, I set a personal record!  The race was hosted by the Greater Memphis Chamber, and was organized by Start 2 Finish Event Management, a company that organizes several races in the area.  Leading up to today, I knew it was going to be cold, and Mother Nature did not disappoint.  Today was the coldest race that I have run to date, checking in at 34 degrees at race start and 34 degrees again when I crossed the finish line.  In fact, as I finished the race, it began to snow!  Of course, it wasn’t Superstorm Nemo level, but it was still snow.

The race claims to be the only race that starts and ends on Beale St, which is a good selling point, I’m sure.  The lobby of the FedEx Forum was open before and after the race, so all of us runners weren’t huddled in the cold all morning and were afforded access to indoor bathrooms.  And, unlike the St Jude Marathon, you were not in the bathroom line for thirty plus minutes.  There was also free parking at the Forum’s parking garage, so that was another major perk.  I got to the race about an hour early because I was worried about getting into the parking garage and I did not want to find a my own parking spot.  I hung out in the lobby until about ten minutes before the race start, so when I headed to the starting corral, I was shuffled towards the back.  There were over 2,000 registered participants for the race, but a little less than half of that actually showed up for the race.  And thank goodness, because the starting corral was quite congested and it took several minutes to get clear of the slower runners after the start of the race.

The course was basically a loop through downtown and was very scenic.  We ran down the trolley line on Main Street, past the bars of Beale St, past the Loraine Motel and National Civil Rights Museum, and through one of the most high-end neighborhoods in Memphis.  The running surfaces varied from pavement to brick to cobblestone to concrete pedestrian paths.  Water and Gatorade was made available after each mile, which is also a huge plus.

My only real complaint about the race is that they said they were using chip timing, but ended up using gun timing instead.  I wasn’t going to  compete for any money today, but it is annoying that my “official race time” doesn’t take in account that I was towards the back of the corral.  The chips were on the back of our bibs, but I guess there was a malfunction with the system.  I knew that I ran well today, and even though I usually go with the official race time, I am probably going to use my Nike+ time instead.  It is only about a minute difference in the two items, so it isn’t that big of a deal.  My gun time was 58:07, which was about a 9:22 per mile pace.  Nike+ had my run at 56:46 for a pace of 9:07.  Both are ahead of my one hour goal, so I am pleased with the results.

Race shirt, bib, & medal

Race shirt, bib, & medal

I talked about the shirt yesterday, but being a cotton blend, Dri-Balance shirt makes it better than your typical shirt.  I did not wear it during the race today, because I normally don’t wear the race shirt on race day.  I guess it is like in PCU when Droz tells Gutter ‘”What’s this? You’re wearing the shirt of the band you’re going to see? Don’t be that guy.”  I guess I like to be a little easier to pick out of the masses.  I really like the design of the medal, even if it is on the small side.  Of course, once I placed it on my display, it looked good.  It is narrow, but is still the same height as most of my medals, so that is good.  The only thing in the goodie bag at packet pickup besides the shirt was literature from the sponsors and a sample of deodorant.  I guess the organizers didn’t want participants to be overly malodorous at the race finish.  Central BBQ was one of the sponsors, so they provided BBQ and their homemade chips as a part of the post race snacks.  We were some cheese and jalapenos away from BBQ nachos!  There was also the standard beer, bottled water, apples, and oranges, but no oddly, no bananas.

Overall: A-: Many positives, only one negative is great, especially for a shorter race and it was quite affordable.

Course: A: honestly, one of the better courses that I have run.

Swag: B+: good shirt & medal, but little else (I know, I know, this isn’t a marathon).

Bottom line, I would definitely do this race again next year.

Thursday Training Run & Chilly Cheeks 5K

Standard

Today marks the fourth consecutive day that I have run three plus miles, and my legs are a little sore.  Yesterday I decided to take advantage of the 55 degree weather, as well as use my replacement Nike+ watch.  I ran my favorite route through the neighborhood when I got home from work and it felt great!  I ran 4.27 miles at a 9:36 pace.  The roads and sidewalks were much clearer than I was expecting.  Usually after a big storm, the roads in this area are filled with fallen branches and such, but yesterday was not too bad.

Today, I decided to run my Chilly Cheeks Virtual 5K since I am going to run my ten mile long run of the week on Sunday.  Originally, I was just going to run the 5K in conjunction with the ten miler, but since Susan and I a couple of obligations to take care of tomorrow, so I decided to postpone the run until Sunday.  Today was quite a cold day, so I guess the Chilly Cheeks 5K is an appropriate name.  The highest temp of the day was 36 degrees, so I decided to run the race on a treadmill at the gym.  My legs were a little tight from the three straight days, but it wasn’t anything that would keep me from running.  I ended up crushing my race today!  I ended up running my 3.1 in 26:30, which is over a minute faster than my previous personal record.  I know it was aided by a treadmill and not in an officially sanctioned event, but I’ll take it.  My time probably would have been even better, but my shoe came untied so I lost some time from having to fix that problem.  I’ll post more about the race when I get the medal and certificate in the mail.  I’ve decided to postpone my Warrior Dash circuit and TRX workouts for tomorrow since I pushed it a little bit during today’s run.

My new shoes haven’t been delivered yet, so I’ll share them when they finally get here tonight.

Quick update on a new TV show that I’m sure that you’ve seen advertised repeatedly over the last six months, The Americans.  The pilot was good, not great.  The show is dark and intense, but forced at times.  Some major plot points were very predictable, but I don’t want to post any spoilers for anyone that may have the show still sitting on their DVR.  I am very intrigued to see the direction the show goes over the course of the season, and like most shows, I am confident that the show will iron out the kinks as the season goes along.  Seinfeld’s first season was terrible, yet it is widely regarded as the best sitcom of all time.  Ratings were great for The Americans and there is no reason the show won’t maintain them for the next few weeks as it gets into its groove.  If you haven’t watched the show yet, I’m certain that FX will show it repeatedly over the next week, so give it a shot.

My First Half Marathon

Standard

Tonight’s workout was 40 minutes of TRX and stretching, so I thought I would write about my first half marathon.

In the summer of 2011, I was looking for a new fitness goal.  I had already lost over 100 pounds (some of which has been added back) and was getting a little complacent with my workouts, so after some conversations with my future wife and people at my gym, I decided to tackle 13.1.  I decided the St Jude Half Marathon would be great because it was a couple of days before my 30th birthday and was for a great cause.  So I signed up and began to work.  At this point, I had only run two 5K’s, and I wasn’t setting any course records in either one, but 13.1 seemed like a good goal.  I was aided by a training course at my gym and began working towards my goal on August 1.  I ran on Wednesday and Saturday mornings with the crew from the gym, and two other times a week on my own.  My long runs would come each Saturday, and by week two, I was setting new career long runs.  I didn’t have any running gear, was using worn out shoes,  and seriously questioned why I was doing this to myself.  If it wasn’t for the pack at InsideOut Gym, I would not have achieved my goal.  Our coach Jessica gave us a structure to follow, provided hydration and nutrition tips, and pushed us to keep progressing.  By mid October, when we were hitting runs in the double digits, I knew that I could do this.  I revised my goal of just doing the 13.1 to running the entire race without walking at any point and a target time of 2:45.

The first weekend of November, I decided to run in the True Blue 5K, just as I had the year before.  I thought it would be a good gauge of how much I had improved over the previous three months.  In 2010, my time was 36:29; in 2011, it was 27:36.  Finishing with a pace  under 9:00 per mile was quite galvanizing.  The rest of November was spent tapering my miles and trying to insure my legs were fresh for the big day.  Several of our long group runs had taken place on the St Jude course, so I was confident that I knew it well.  I went to the expo on the Thursday prior to the race so I could take it all in before the out of towners came in on Friday.  My future mother-in-law cooked my carb rich dinner.  I went to bed earlier that Friday night than I had my entire adult life, and of course, I couldn’t sleep.  I was too excited, too nervous.  My mind was racing 100 miles per hour.  I finally did doze off and was able to get sufficient rest.

My mom, fiance Susan, her father and her best friend, all met at my house at 6:00 am to head downtown.  Susan’s dad is a retired cop, so parking was no issue.  We met up with the rest of the InsideOut pack at the FedEx Forum and we relaxed before the event.  We headed over to the starting line to find our corrals.  It was at this point that I realized just how many people were running this race.  There was racers, spectators, and volunteers everywhere.  It was nearly impossible to get back to corral 12.  Crowd control is not a strong suit of the St Jude Marathon Weekend.  Once I was there, it was time to wait.  As each wave went, it was closer to realizing my goal.  And then finally, we were off.  It felt good.  And as we rounded the first corner, I noticed several people walking.  After the second turn, more walkers.  We weren’t even a mile in, and I was having to dodge people going on a Sunday stroll.  It was infuriating.  It was fairly clear to me at this point that most people weren’t as rigid about the corral splits as I was.  But, in hindsight, these walkers probably slowed me up enough to keep from using too much energy in the first few miles.  The race started off in the typically chilly December air, but I warmed up rapidly.  The first seven miles were a breeze, but once the race hit Overton Park, I was losing steam, but thankfully there was a water and GU station in the park that helped me maintain.  Then mile 10 and the largest incline of the race happened.  It was at this point when the thought of walking for a minute first entered my brain.  I fought it back by telling myself that I had come too far and only had a 5K left to go.  I forged on.  Each mile felt like two, but I kept plugging away.  And then a saw Autozone Park.  The finish line was within reach.  I had no clue what my time was, but it didn’t matter.  I was going to finish,  it was going to happen.  As a crossed the finish line, I felt pure exuberance.  I did it!  And well under my goal of 2:45.  I couldn’t wait to get my official time.

Running

Plugging away, with a smile of my face. Maybe I’m a sadist…

I collected my blanket, grabbed a water, and headed up to stadium stairs to get my beer, pizza, bananas, whatever other treats awaited me.  Susan and company greeted me at the top of the stairs.  It was at this point that Susan informed me that I was a freak.  I was confused until she pointed out that they had stalked me most of the race and had gotten several pictures of me.  And I was smiling in every one of them!  Even the ones that I had no clue were being taken.  Later that week when MarathonFoto posted their pics, more smiles.  Maybe I did enjoy running after all!  When I finally saw my official time, was completely floored and excited; my time was 2:16:26!  I was nearly 30 minutes ahead of my goal!  After talking with my friends that also ran the race, I had another shocking revelation, my time was better than every one of my friends!  My first marathon couldn’t have gone any better!

Susan had this made for me as a remembrance of my first half marathon!

Susan had this made for me as a remembrance of my first half marathon!

On December 3, 2011, I could have beaten Mike Tyson in a fight, Michael Jordan in one-on-one, or get the game winning homer off of Mariano Rivera in the World Series, I felt so good.  I know that I wasn’t even close to a course record, but that didn’t matter.  I surpassed my goals and did something that just two years earlier, when I was a 320 mess, was seemingly impossible.  My heart is actually racing just writing about this accomplishment.