2016 St. Jude Half Marathon

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For the fifth (would be sixth if Mother Nature cooperated) time, I have successfully completed the St. Jude Half Marathon in Memphis, TN. And that is where the good news stops, at least for my personal performance. To say that I finished the 2016 race calendar with a whimper would be an understatement. Actually, to call my 2016 in running anything but an unmitigated disaster would be an understatement, but that is not the point of this review.

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A wonderful shot of the race crowd. Pic is not my own.

My love for the St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend is well documented on this blog and throughout social media. I return to the race year after year, regardless of my training level to complete the 13.1 miles. And no year tested this dedication like 2016. For starters, I did not train  like I should. This is no one’s fault but my own. I could have gotten up earlier, I could have made arrangements, but I let the excuses win. But to make matters even worse, I spent the Thursday night before the race in the ER with my son with croup. And obviously his health comes before all else. So after spending the night in the ER receiving treatment, we were able to come home around 6:00 am. At this point I was at the 24 hour mark of no sleep. I smarter man would have called in sick and rested all day, but I had a project due so I went into work. And I stayed there all day. Now I am at 35 hours of no sleep. My wife decides that take our son to her parent’s house for the evening so I can get some rest before the half marathon, and she is a saint for this. I finally go to bed around 8:00 pm, which eclipsed the 38 hour mark of consecutive hours awake. My alarm was set for 5:30 am, so let’s just say that my two-day average of sleep was not great.

The forecast for the race was cold, with some rain, and both occurred throughout the morning. I had a rain jacket early in the race, but ditched it because I was overheating and thought that we had missed the rain, which was not 100% accurate. Within 30 minutes of discarding of my jacket, the rain began. It was more of a heavy drizzle and dropped my core temperature more than making me uncomfortably wet. Luckily for me, my decision to ditch my jacket was not a total disaster.

The last four miles, however, were a total disaster thanks to my lack of training and haphazard race prep. My legs quit on me. At first it was cramps in my right calf, then my left calf. Then my left knee started feeling like something was running around inside of it. I no longer could run even a few feet. The Nuun or water on the course was not helping. The Gu I brought did not help. I was resigned to walking the last four miles or so of the course, or quitting. Susan offered to come pick me up, but I refused. I signed up for the race, I raised the money for the kids of St. Jude, I had people cheering me along the course, including my wife and son, I had made it this far, so I was finishing this race! And so I limped along, trying to jog every few minutes, until I crossed that finish line at my glacial pace.

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This beer was the most helpful refreshment on the course! Thank you, High Cotton Brewery!

Swag: B: I like the medal, I was disappointed in the shirt. The medals have gotten progressively better over the years, with last year’s race being the high watermark for the finisher’s medal as well as participant shirt.

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Course: A+: I love the changes to the course this year. Removing the long stretch of boring miles along North Parkway, the paved path through Overton Park, and the uphill climb on Poplar Ave was a gift from above. Adding in more time through Overton Square and the surrounding neighborhoods made the changes even better. Hopefully this was not a one year course deviation.

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Nothing beats an on course family photo!

 

On the Road Again…

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On the road again
Just can’t wait to get on the road again
The life I love is [running miles] with my friends
And I can’t wait to get on the road again
On the road again
Determined

Determination late in the race

It is time to start my training for the St. Jude Half Marathon once again! It has never been a secret that this is my favorite race of the year, and training for it could not have come at a better time this big guy. I am in my second week of my sluggish training, and I am already seeing some gains, albeit, they are no where near my norms. But they will get there, it may not be until the 2017 St. Jude Half Marathon, but they will get there.
Running

Running & smiling in my first 13.1!

And our way
Is on the road again
Just can’t wait to get on the road again
The life I love is [running miles] with my friends
And I can’t wait to get on the road again
On the road again
My apologies to Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson. Also, my apologies to you, my readers, for this corny post, I will see myself out…

New St. Jude Marathon Weekend Race

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2016 marks the 15th year of the St. Jude Marathon Weekend, and with it, St. Jude is introducing a new race distance! In years past, have you felt that the 5K was not challenging enough, yet the idea of the half marathon or marathon was still too daunting? Well, this year, you are in luck! St. Jude has decided to provide potential race participants with the option of running a 10K for the kids! I will still be either running the half or the full marathon, but I am excited that even more people can participate in this wonderful race weekend. More info can be found here.

2016 FedEx St. Jude Classic Fairway 5K Recap

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Originally I was going to run in the inaugural Race 13.1 being held here in Memphis, but with my lack of training and busy schedule, I thought it was wiser to run in this 5K and continue to build my running base back up.

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I ran in the first Fairway 5K back in 2013, but could not participate in it last year due to my schedule. I remembered that race had a great afterparty and was for a great cause. This year was no different. I was slower this year, which really sucks when you consider that the Fairway 5K in 2013 was my first race after my foot injury, but I am presently a work in progress, and I am slowly returning to form.

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Swag: A+: Any 5K that gives out a medal will get a high grade from me, especially the awesomeness that was this year’s medal. This seriously might be my favorite medal of any race thus far! Throw in a nice looking long sleeve Zorrel Dri-Balance shirt, a one day pass to the FedEx St. Jude Classic golf tournament, colorful socks, a cooling towel and you have some very solid swag. The post race mimosas, beers, and Bloody Marys were a huge hit. If you lingered too long out there, you certainly would have needed a DD to get home! The pre and post race band was also very good.

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Course: A-: You run through residential streets as well as the cart paths around the 17th and 18th holes. Everyone thought that the course was fast, and really flat. I can only think of two hills. One was a short, steep one on the golf course and the other came at the very beginning of the course. You finish at the 18th green with a fantastic post race party, which was a great time.

Overall: A: This may be the best 5K experience I have had. This is in part due to the great weather, lots of swag, scenic course, and great event management. Wrangling 800+ people through cart paths on a golf course is not an easy task.  Also, the post race Bloody Mary stand may have helped as well!

2015 St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon Recap

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Man was I sloooooowwwww during this race, and I did not care one bit. I had other priorities this fall and hence, I did a poor job of training. The name of the game on this particular race morning was finish, and I did just that, so it was deemed a success. Especially because of my awesome cheering section, including the newest and youngest member of the family.

 

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2015 St. Jude Half Marathon Finisher’s Medal

I love this race, raising money for the kids of St. Jude, and remembering what I can accomplish when I put my mind to it. This race always is rewarding for me, even when it is not a success in terms of my finishing time. With Susan’s pregnancy and the the birth of our son, my training was virtually nonexistent. I would go for a run here and there, or do a quick workout at the house, but I by no means followed a set schedule and my mileage was not ramped up near where it should have been. Therefore, this event became one in which crossing the finish line was all a cared about and even though my running watch was still going (I mean, I need to track those stats!), it was not something I was using to gauge my success.

 

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Greatest cheering section ever!

It several ways, this was the perfect year for me to have my slowest race of all-time. There was a new course to enjoy (I love the changes), I saw more friends along the course than all of my previous years combined, and my newest family member made his public debut to cheer me along the way.

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Heroes swag

Another positive about the 2015 race for me was that it was my highest fundraising total for the kids of St. Jude ever! Thanks to several generous donors, including multiple readers of this blog, I was able to raise $1,000 for the kids of St. Jude, which was twice the total of my goal! Thank you to everyone that donated!

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2015 St. Jude Half Marathon swag

No need to go through all of my usual grading for this event, but I will just mention a couple of things. The Heroes singlets are still tiny, so if you run as a Hero, order accordingly. I remembered to go up a size in the shirt this year, so I can actually wear it, especially since the shirts ran bigger anyway this year. The medal had an extra bling factor and incorporated the Memphis skyline and St. Jude’s campus again this year. And the course being reworked to avoid Overton Park and instead use Madison Ave. was an outstanding change. It allowed for more spectators, better crowd management along the route (both spectators and runners), and had less debris to avoid along the way. I am not sure why the change was made (Overton Park had been having some challenges with park usage and conservation recently), but I fully support it being a permanent change.

In 2016, this will again be my race to cap off the year, and hopefully I will be fully trained for it and I will be closer to chasing down a PR than a PW.

2016 Goals and Expectations

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2016 is going to be all about getting back to basics, and being the best Kyle that I can be. Top of the list will of course be the best father as possible, and every choice in which I make must factor my son and how it will impact him into it. That being said, this list is what I am aiming to do in 2016 to better myself and my community.

It's all about this guy now

It’s all about this guy now

  1. Embrace my spirituality. I have gotten so far away from this over the past few years that I am not sure where to even begin, but I am going to give it my best shot.
  2. Read for a minimum of 1 hour everyday. This does not mean playing on Facebook and Twitter for an hour, but reading actual books, magazine articles, and items of significance to expand my knowledge.
  3.  Be active for at least 30 minutes everyday. To say that I have gotten lazy would be a drastic understatement. Yes, I have had quite a bit going on, but I need to a handle on it. I do not want to return to the 300+ club again.

    I do not want to return to this form again

    I do not want to return to this form again

  4. Eat better. This goes hand and hand with my weight and laziness, but I need to do a better job of saying no to fast food and junk. I should completely abstain from these items, but I am going to allow an occasional (not daily) Chik-Fil-A trip or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup without brandishing too much guilt.
  5. Run locally. I have complained about the lack of races here in Memphis, but in 2016, there appears to be several new options for the 13.1 distance and beyond, so I am going to so my part and participate (I’ve already added the Mainly Marathons and Race 13.1 events in April, and I will be registering for the Great American River Run in May as well).
  6. Run more often. 1,000 miles is the goal for 2016. Getting and staying trained for my race calendar is lumped into this goal as well.

    Log 1,000 miles

    Log 1,000 miles

  7. PR at least 1 race. I do not care the distance, but I want to best my time for at least 1 distance in which I have previously run (no loopholes here) in 2016.
  8. Get more involved in my community. I work for a nonprofit and I do the Heroes thing for St. Jude, but I am currently looking to do more, and one area that I am actively pursuing is joining the board of directors for a nonprofit. I have applied to one board, but since doing so I have discovered more about the organization and decided that it is not an appropriate fit for me.
  9. Go to Opening Day 2016. A tradition I want to do with my son is to attend Opening Day for the Atlanta Braves with him every year. I have already purchased our tickets, and we will be there 3 months today to cheer the Braves on against the Washington Nationals!The Chop

So there you have it, my short, but lofty goal list for 2016 to be a better me. This list is very attainable, and unless some unforeseen circumstances arise, I should be able to check each one of these off by December.

Music Highway Medal

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Music Highway Medal

First off, my race recap for the Mercedes Half Marathon should be posted on Monday morning. It has been a hectic week, and I just have not done it yet. In the meantime, I wanted to share with all of y’all the Music Highway medal that I received this week for running the Country Music Half Marathon in Nashville and St. Jude Half Marathon in Memphis as a St.. Jude Hero.

2014 St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon

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Saturday was the St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend, and once again I ran in the half marathon. This is my fourth consecutive year registering for this event, and each time I have taken something new away from the experience. I love raising money for this cause, and the event is always top-notch. This race truly is a great celebration of St. Jude and the City of Memphis, and it is always an honor to participate in it.

The St. Jude logo painted onto Beale St.

The St. Jude logo painted onto Beale St.

There is not much I can about the race that I have not said before, I will give it my best shot.

The start line for the 2014 St. Jude Half Marathon

The start line for the 2014 St. Jude Half Marathon

The weather for the race was cool, cloudy, and windy, but there was no rain like the day before or ice like the previous year, so it was certainly bearable. If anything, the weather was slightly warmer than ideal for my personal preferences, but I did enjoy it.

One of several pics Susan got of me on the course.

One of several pics Susan got of me on the course.

There were a little over 18.000 of us out there running the streets of Memphis on Saturday morning in the various events. This is about the normal amount of runners for the events and the crowding along the course was also about the same. We were crowded at the start, then gained some separation for a few miles, then bottled up a bit going through Overton Park, and stayed in pockets of runners for the remainder of the half marathon.

The half marathon was my tenth of the year, fifteenth overall, and my time was solid. I finished in 2:18:03, which is my second fastest half of the year. I started off a little too fast, but overall, I felt good for the vast majority of the race. I did forget about the hills towards the end, and did not have the best plan of attack for them this year, but I survived. There is always next year to break my course, and even overall PR! This very well may become a 2015 goal. That or attempt the full marathon in 2015. We shall see.

2014 St. Jude HM Swag

Shirts and medal for the 2014 event. the back of the shirt had the Memphis skyline with St. Jude incorporated into it.

Swag: A+: I am always pleased with the expo for this event. There is always several vendors and tons of information available. This is the first year that I actually heeded my own advice and requested a shirt in  a size larger than I normally wear. And since I did that, I finally have a St. Jude Half Marathon race shirt that I can wear in different events! Also, this year’s medal is by far the best one that has been offered by the event, and I loved the incorporation of Memphis and St. Jude landmarks onto the medal, as well as the shirt. My Heroes singlet was still too snug for me to run in comfortably, but I did run in my Heroes training shirt, so I was still able to celebrate the kiddos at St. Jude. If it was much colder, then the compression like fit of the singlet would have been welcomed for the run.

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

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

Course: A: The start was slightly revised, following a more straightforward route which is similar to several of the other downtown races. It helped with congestion early in the race a little bit, but did not make or break the race. The highlight of the course, as always, was running through the St. Jude campus. And the marathon actually went through the campus twice! The hills towards the end are tough, but manageable if you have a plan.

Great post-race meal at an U of M institution (even if it is no longer by the U of M)! Also, rocking my Strikeout Cancer shirt.

Great post-race meal at an U of M institution (even if it is no longer by the U of M)! Also, rocking my Strikeout Cancer shirt.

Overall: A: As always, I love this event. The logistics for the runner is always top-notch. Even in the heavily congested food and beverage area, there are signs and directions. The only negative was that the beer garden was not clearly marked, and getting to it was not easy. I ended up skipping it altogether, despite wearing my 21 and up id bracelet for the two days prior.

Chewbacca runs Memphis! The best costume in the entire event, and this person ran the full marathon like this!

Chewbacca runs Memphis! The best costume in the entire event, and this person ran the full marathon like this!

Apology: Several months ago I posted about a special medal that was going to be given out to Heroes raising at least $100 at each of the Country Music Marathon/Half Marathon in Nashville, and the St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend. I even put this in  a post last week. Well, this did not happen. So, if anyone got their hopes up about this medal, I am sorry for sharing incorrect information. I do not know why the medal  was not given out, but the Rock ‘N Roll Marathon site still has the page for the medal up. I received two emails about the medal, one of which said medals will be shipped in a couple of weeks, and one that said that medals were not offered. It sounds like to me that there will be no medals. Update: So I got another email saying that medals will be mailed out in a few weeks. Regardless, take pride in knowing that you efforts helped the children of St. Jude, which are the real reason for these events anyway.

Obviously, I plan on running in this event in the future. The only real question is whether or not I run in the half or full marathon next year. The only reason that I am considering the full is because next year’s event falls on my birthday, and that would be a cool way to celebrate!

It’s St. Jude Race Week Once Again

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This week is going to be a hectic one for me. It is my birthday, finals, and the St. Jude Half Marathon occurring concurrently. I also had an opportunity to go to a conference for work, but I wisely turned down that opportunity to focus on everything else.

My 1st race medal - St. Jude Half 2011

My 1st race medal – St. Jude Half 2011

Race week means that I ratchet down my workouts, trying to avoid injury and stay fresh for the big event. I do not always adhere to this since my schedule has been so packed with races, but I am going to do my best to take it easy this week. After all, nothing I do this week is going to drastically improve my time on Saturday morning, so why risk injury?

2012 St. Jude Half Marathon Medal

2012 St. Jude Half Marathon Medal

I have been checking the weather forecast like a psycho for the past few days, and while the weather does not look ideal, it should be warmer than last year’s event that was canceled for the cold and ice (even though some of us crazy runners hit the streets anyway) and drier than the second MRTC RRS half marathon. I can only hope that this remains true.

Photo produced by Competitor Group

Photo produced by Competitor Group

I have reached my fundraising total, so I can cruise along without stressing about finding the extra dollars needed for that. And I think that for the first time, I will squeeze into my Heroes singlet for the race (don’t worry, I will have an under shit on) to celebrate the wonder place that is St. Jude.

This was me as I was about to head out for my very cold 13.1!

This was me as I was about to head out for my very cold 13.1!

I recently upgraded phones, so I have been debating what to do with my new iPhone 6. 13.1 miles can get very sweaty, and with the chance for rain, I decided to bite the bullet and invest in a Lifeproof case, even though the model that I really wanted has not been released yet. I would rather sacrifice some aesthetics rather than my entire phone!

2013 St. Jude Marathon Weekend Medal (w/ a little ice)

2013 St. Jude Marathon Weekend Medal (w/ a little ice)

New phone, also means I need a new playlist, so during study breaks, I will be constructing a list of tunes to help carry me to the finish line!

Good luck to all my fellow St. Jude Marathon Weekend participants and everyone else running this weekend!

2014 Breakaway Bardog 5K Recap

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Originally, I was going to skip this race, but was convinced on Saturday to run it on Sunday morning.  Last year’s event was fun and the post race party had plenty of beer and top-notch food.  I expected to find more of the same again this year.  The weather was not nearly as agreeable as last year’s event or even the Elvis 5K the previous day.  In fact, the worrisome 9:00 am start was not kind to us runners.  If the event would have started at 7:00 am (preferred) or even 8:00 am (like the Elvis 5K), it would have been a little more forgiving.  There was a breeze and cloud cover until 8:45, then the clouds parted and the sun bore down upon us.  It became apparent very quickly that this race was not going to be a PR!

The first mile was bearable, but I decided to take it easy after that.  The heat just beat me physically, and especially mentally.  I still finished feeling better than I did after the second MRTC 5K, and my finishing time was a little bit better as well.

Swag for the 2014 Breakaway Bardog 5K. No pint glass for me this.

Swag for the 2014 Breakaway Bardog 5K. No pint glass for me this.

Swag: A-: Another Breakaway Bardog 5K, another great, super soft t-shirt.  This race has certainly figured out how to make their runners happy with the race shirts, and that is certainly one reason you see so many of their shirts worn around town all year.  I did not get a pint glass this year (only given to the first 350 runners to register), but it was very nice looking.  The post race food and drink was basically the same as last year, which is a positive.  It is hard to argue with Bardog sliders and veggie kabobs, as well as a large beer selection, with plenty of local brews.  I used all three of my beer tickets to take advantage of this race perk.

Course: B+: A small tweak from last year eliminated a couple of the turns, which was certainly a positive, but crowd management was an issue for all 3.1 miles.  Just over 1,000 runners finished this year’s event, but it felt like it was much larger than that.  The post race party also was hampered a bit by the number of runners and limited space.  The earlier you finished the race, the easier it was to get beer and sliders.

Overall: B+: Very fun post race party with a great spread, downtown course, and the proceeds from the event goes to St. Jude.  You cannot argue with any of that.  However, I would love to see the race incorporate an earlier start time to alleviate some of the Memphis heat.  I am certain that I will participate in this event again (I was not certain of this at 9:35 am this morning), but hopefully it will be more like 2013 than 2014 for me.