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!

 

Special Ops Spartan Sprint Tampa Race Recap

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Over the weekend I traveled to Tampa, FL for the Special Ops Spartan Sprint, which was held at Raymond James Stadium.  This was my first Spartan Race and second ever obstacle/mud run.  And it was definitely tougher than the Warrior Dash I ran last spring in Jackson, MS.  My arms are still sore today and this race was certainly a reminder that I need to focus more on my cross training.  I was able to complete the vast majority of the obstacles, but they were not easy.  And for the obstacles that I failed to complete, I did my requisite 30 burpee penalty.  From my view, I was about the only person that did this.  Several people would do 5-10 burpees and then go on to the next obstacle.  Some people seemed to be upset by this, but it honestly did not change to fact that I did what I needed to do to complete the course, and that is the point for me.  However, I do feel that Spartan Race should enforce and monitor this penalty a little bit better at future events.  This was the only area that lacked in an otherwise well-organized, top-notch event.

This was after I finished the event and I had a chance to clean up a bit.

This was after I finished the event and I had a chance to clean up a bit.

Course: A: Fun and very challenging course.  This was the first Spartan Race that incorporated the stadium and usual obstacles in one.  In total, there were 18 obstacles, not to mention the stadium stairs I had to run as a portion of the course.  We ran from the ground level up the six levels to the top of the concourse and down twice.  We also had to climb a five foot wall to get into the starting corral and hopped stair rails while running through the seating areas.  I am listing the obstacles mostly in order as we encountered them on race day, along with a quick blurb about them.  I did not wear my GoPro nor did I have a cell phone for pictures.

Crawling under a large cargo net.  Easy.  No one really had to crawl since every participant held the net up for each other.

Get L-O-W.  Easy.  This was crawling under a couple of walls.  This was an easy obstacle, but it cut my knees up a little bit.

Over-Under-Through. Easy. Participants has to go over a small wall, under one, and through a hole in one.

Hobie Hop. Slightly Moderate. Participants were required us to put straps around our ankles and hopped up and down two flights of stairs.  Surprisingly, no one fell while I was in this area.

Traverse Wall. Hard.  You horizontally scale a wall using small hand and foot holds. This was much tougher than I expected.  I fell a few times and got trapped behind someone going ultra slow.  I ended up doing 30 burpees for this obstacle.

Six Foot Wall.  Easy.  Climb a six-foot wall.

Before going to the next obstacle, we had an option of burpees or running to the top of the concourse.  I chose the running option so I am not sure how people got to the top for the next obstacle.

Sandbag carry.  Easy.  Men and women had different sized sandbags to carry.  You grabbed a sandbag, climbed the stairs to the upper deck, maneuvered through the seats, then returned your sandbag.

Seven Foot Wall.  Moderate.  I could not scale this wall without a little assistance from a foot hold on the side.

Football Throw. Easy.  This was on the football field and sadly cost me 30 burpees.  We had one 10 yard throw of a foam football into a trash can.  I hit the rim of the can and went off to the burpee pit.

This is what crawling under 80 yards of barbed wire looks like.

This is what crawling under 80 yards of barbed wire looks like.

80 Yard Barbed Wire Crawl.  Moderate.  We basically crawled under barbed wire for the entire length of the football field.  This was by far the longest obstacle and low crawling for that long will take its toll on you.  The football turf was pulled up, so this crawl was through a sand and dirt mixture that stuck with you for the rest of the event.

Eight Foot Wall. Hard.  Jumping and grabbing the top of the wall, then pulling myself up and over was not going to happen without the assistance steps on the side.

Herculean Hoist. Hard.  There were different weights for male and female participants, and this marked the first event completely outside of the stadium corridor.  You used a rope and pulley to pull up a 50 pound bucket of concrete several feet and slowly drop it back to the ground.

Atlas Shrugged.  Hard. You carried a large, round rock 10 yards, did 10 burpees, and then returned the 10 yards with the stone.  There were different sized stones for male and female participants.  I struggled more than I care to admit with this obstacle.

Mud Hills.  Easy.  We went up the hill and down into a puddle and back up four times while being sprayed with a water hose.

Object Carry.  Easy.  We carried ammo boxes a short distance before moving on to the next obstacle.

Inverted Wall.  Hard.  You climbed a wall at a 45 degree angle from the backside.  I would not have been able to complete this obstacle if it were not for the motivation and spotting of the volunteers at this event.

Rope Climb.  Hard.  Climb a rope several feet, ring the bell, and return to the ground.  I failed horribly at this obstacle.  I had to do 30 more burpees for this.

Spear Throw. Moderate.  The act was not hard, but how often do you actually throw a spear?  My spear did not stay in the target, so I had to do 30 more burpees.

Slippery Wall.  Hard.  Climb a wall at a 45 degree angle that is covered in mud and other substances that made gaining traction a feat.  Two other competitors helped me climb the Slippery Wall.  It took several attempts to complete this.  I would have quit and done my 30 burpees without them motivation of one of my fellow participants, especially after falling on my face and sliding back into the mud pit.  I have several bruises from this obstacle alone.  But, I did complete the wall and was grateful for the help.  The entire crowd cheered when I was finally able to climb down the other side.

Fire Jump. Easy.  You jump over a fire.  This hopefully provided another great picture like Warrior Dash picture that I use everywhere.

Gladiator Arena.  Easy.  This was three Spartans hitting you with pugil sticks right before the finish line.

Both of the Spartan Race medals

Both of the Spartan Race medals

Swag: A-: All finishers received two medals (one for the event and one as a piece for the Trifecta), a t-shirt, and a headband to wear during the event for picture-taking purposes.  Video and photos of every race are provided for participants, so I will have a follow-up post as soon as I gain access to these items.  Bag check is $5, which seems like a bummer since most people  probably are checking a bag, but you receive a $5 coupon good towards something in the merchandise tent.  I used this for the $5 sticker pack.  The shirt was OK, the event specific shirt was much better and sold out before the 9:00 heat started.  Also, apparently there somehow was a shortage of medals for the event, so the later afternoon runners have to wait to have their medals mailed to them.

Spartan Race swag

Spartan Race swag

Overall: A: The event was every bit as challenging as promised and it was a huge accomplishment to finish the race. The organization was great and there never really was much of a bottleneck at any obstacle.  Start times were strictly enforced, and each facet of the race seemed to be planned out.  Another outstanding aspect of the race was that my heat at 9:00 am had several members of Operation Enduring Warrior, which was very cool.  Operation Enduring Warrior is a non-profit organization ran by veterans to help those wounded in service physically, mentally, or emotionally be rehabilitated.

A shot of the Operation Enduring Warriors approaching the finish line

A shot of the Operation Enduring Warriors approaching the finish line

I am still sore today and I have learned some definite areas I need to focus on before my next obstacle race.

Throwback Thursday: Revisiting a Rant

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I do not usually post Throwback Thursdays pictures or statuses on social media, but today a post of mine was received some traffic that sparked an interest in me to revisit the issue.  Last March, I wrote a post complaining about Memphis not getting any national obstacle races and having a shortage of distance races.  I guess someone listened because 2014 is a much more promising year for the Bluff City.  While not landing one of the big three obstacle course events (Tough Mudder, Spartan Race, or Warrior Dash), Foam Fest will be coming to town in May.  Of course, as of today, I am not registered for that event, so I may be a part of the problem, but at least it is a local option.  There are also two new half marathon/marathon events this season in Memphis, both of the trail variety.  One is at Shelby Forrest in two weeks and the other is at Stanky Creek during the first weekend of March.  Promotion has been slight for both events, but hopefully the organization has not been.  I will probably run the latter of the two events, provided that it does not sell out before I get a chance to register.  Also, the Navy Ten Nautical Miler has been reinstated for 2014, and of course, I still can not participate in it this year.  It is slated for Sunday, June 8, which is the day after my running of the Tough Mudder event in Nashville.  Whereas I could work both events into my calendar, I am very wary of running these events on back to back days in the June heat in Tennessee.  Battered and bruised from Tough Mudder and then fighting heat and humidity may not be the most fun I have ever had at a race.  Maybe my running of the Spartan Sprint this weekend will reduce some of this trepidation.

Memphis

Memphis

On a side note, of the national races that I mentioned on my prior post, one, Tap ‘N Run, came to Memphis in October 2013 (great premise that was spoiled by an unseasonably warm day), and two, Hero Rush and Run For Your Lives, are now defunct.  From what I read, the two race series that folded were popular, but had some financial issues that led to their demise.  You can surely Google each race and get the full story, or click here for my take on what happened with Run For Your Lives (Note: the new race is no longer coming to Memphis).

Getting Out of the Funk

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It is exactly one month since I completed my first marathon and I have been in somewhat of a funk since that date.  I am not sure if I am not mentally invested or if my body wants a break, but I have been off my usual demeanor.  I have had some lingering pain in my toe and the weather has been unseasonably cold here in Memphis.  All of this has led to some lackluster runs and a couple of extra pounds to hang around as well.  This is not an ideal situation heading into this weekend’s Spartan Special Ops Sprint.  It is only a 3-4 mile run, but with at least 15 obstacles and 30 burpee penalties for failure to complete, I could be in for a long day on Saturday.  And not to mention the 3 half marathons I will be running in over the next 2 months.

I am giving it my best try

I am giving it my best try

I did have a good run tonight and worked in some cross training intervals, so I am going to try to build upon this momentum moving forward.  Not to mention that the deep freeze is going to subside for a few days, so getting a rhythm back should be a little easier.

Anyway, enough with the pity party.  Here is what I know about this weekend’s event.  There is an 80 yard barbed wire crawl, the event will be hosted at Raymond James Stadium, I can earn two medals, and this will be the first stadium race in the Spartan Series that will incorporate mud and water obstacles outside of the stadium.  Everything else is a complete mystery.  I am certain that there will be a rope climb, spear throw, and plenty of stadium stairs waiting for me on Saturday.

I have some basketball to watch and homework to do, so I am cutting this post a little short.

Odds And Ends

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This is going to be a catchall post for some random events and happenings over the last week or so.

Susan created a photo book on Shutterfly of the WDW Marathon to help commemorate my experience there.  She used a variety of pictures from the event, the celebration after, and some of the events that preceded the event. I have added a few pictures so y’all get an idea of what she did.

Cover Art

Cover Art

I have written on here before about my transformation over the years, but I really have not posted many pictures of it.  Susan included this in the book.

My transformation

My transformation

Right now over at FitFluential, there is a challenge going on to do 1,000 burpees before February 28.  Participants are encouraged to use the hashtag #FFBURPEE and at the end of the challenge, one lucky male and female participant will win head to toe outfits from Under Armour.  This will be an excellent motivation for my upcoming Spartan Race.

Enlisted

Speaking of the upcoming Spartan Race, traveling to Tampa has proven to be harder than expected.  I was excited that Southwest was moving to Memphis, but after my first experience with them, I am not so sure.  Over a seven-day period, flights from Memphis rose nearly $200 per person!  And in fact, the rates seem to change hourly.  Last night, I was able to find a rice that was suitable to me, but once I tried to order our tickets, and was declined because the price of the tickets actually changed while I was checking out! I called customer service and was informed that I could buy one ticket at the advertised price and one at a higher rate.  I declined that option.  I ended up booking seats with one airline to Tampa and a different one on the way back to Memphis.

Atlanta today vs The Walking Dead

Atlanta today vs The Walking Dead

What is happening in Atlanta and Birmingham is insane.  It is concrete proof of how ill-equipped southern cities can be for winter weather.  And then there was an amazing photo today of the deserted streets of Atlanta that is quite similar to the famous shot of Atlanta in The Walking Dead.  It is eery how similar the two photos actually are.

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.

Weekly Recap and More

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I hope everyone’s Thanksgiving went well and anything that you ate was worth the extra calories.  I know that everything I had been worth it.  It has been awhile since I have posted and this will be more of a catchall post to encompass as much of what has happened for me over the last couple of weeks.

Milestones:

100 miles in 1 month!

100 miles in 1 month!

November marked the first time in my running history that I eclipsed 100 miles ran in a single month.  It was not necessarily my goal, but with my race and training schedule, it happened to work out that way.  I am not sure if I will repeat the same performance this month, but we shall see.  It is amazing how far I have come since beginning my running journey.

Half Fanatics

Half Fanatics

I decided to join the Half Fanatics two weeks ago as well.  My three half marathons in 63 days qualified me for the club, so I decided to give it a shot.  I am not sure what, if any perks come from the club, but it is something that I earned, so I am going to give it a shot.  I am Fanatic #5670.

As previously stated, I set my PR for distance twice this month, and I am building a great base for the WDW Marathon in January.  I have now officially ran over 20 miles in a single run!

Races:

I neglected to mention this in October, but I was able to register for the 2014 Oak Barrel 13.1 in April.  It is a smaller race in Lynchburg, TN and from the reports that I have seen, it is an event with a very loyal following.  Participation was capped at 1,400, and that number was reached in under a month.  Race medals are made from oak barrels, which is fitting for the home of Jack Daniels.  I am really eager to see what all of the buzz about this event is about.

Running & smiling in my first 13.1!

Running & smiling in my first 13.1!

This Saturday marks my third consecutive St. Jude Half Marathon to participate in, and I cannot wait.  This was my first two half marathons and will always be a race that I try to incorporate into my schedule.  This year’s race is going to add a new challenge since the projected weather is going to be quite cold.  The high is 36 degrees, so I guess my cold runs over the past couple of weeks will be beneficial for this race.  I just shivered thinking about it!  Also, I was able to raise over $700 for the children of St. Jude in association with this event as a St. Jude Hero, which is always a good feeling.

Originally, the St. Jude Half Marathon was supposed to be my last race of 2013, but now I think that I am going to run in the Starry 4K at Shelby Farms here in Memphis.  The race takes place at Starry Nights, an outdoor light display at Shelby Farms and participants run through the lights that normally you drive through.  Seems like a fun run and the proceeds go to the park, which is a great resource here in Memphis.

Need For Improvement:

I have fallen back into the habit of focusing on my running miles only.  I need to force myself to do more cross training, both for the improved effect on my running that will be the result as well as my overall health and performance.  The Spartan Race is coming awfully soon, and as it stands today, I am looking at completing several burpees at the event since the Spartan Race gives 30 burpees as a penalty for failing to complete an obstacle.

On Deck:

I am not sure how often I will post over the next nine days or so since I have two 15 page papers, one 12 page paper, and a final exam due during that time frame.  It is definitely crunch time!

I have been given a copy of Magical Miles: The Runner’s Guide to WDW to review for my blog and a copy to giveaway as well.  I have looked through the book a little bit, and it is quite thorough.  I cannot wait to dive in for my full review in the next couple of weeks.