2014 St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon

Standard

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!

Advertisements

It’s St. Jude Race Week Once Again

Standard

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

Standard

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.

Country Music Half Marathon Recap

Standard

This post is a little delayed, but I have been piecing it together since the event on April 26 as I take breaks from my final papers.  I am finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with this semester and will get back to a normal running/workout/blogging schedule.

Start line pic taken from the CMM Facebook page

Start line pic taken from the CMM Facebook page

I arrived to the expo on Friday around noon and it was a madhouse.  There was very little parking near the expo and the ones that were available would price gouging runners.  Therefore, Susan dropped me off and made the block while I grabbed my registration stuff.  The expo was well-organized, it was just a large mass of people in a small space.  There were several vendors in attendance and if Susan was not waiting on me, I could have spent some time wandering around the various booths.

Country Music Half Medal

On race day, it was advertised that you needed to get to LP Field by 5:30 am or there would be no free parking available.  We got there at 6:00 am and had no problem getting a spot, but the issue was traffic, as any trip to Nashville involves.  I went the long way to LP Field and missed the vast majority of the traffic, so that did help.  Parking was 1/2 a mile or so from the start line, so runners could get a little bit of a warm up before getting to the corrals.  The lack of porta-potties was noticeable on my walk to the corral.  The few that I did see had insanely long lines.  Around corral 14 there were several porta-potties, but by that point most people had fought the crowds.

Prior to the race, all I heard about the event was how hilly it was and that the weather could be quite unpredictable.  Whereas the course was hilly, especially on mile 12, that was not the most notable feature of the course to me.  The most notable feature was the amount of runners on the entire course.  There were over 19,000 finishers for the half marathon alone!  This is the first race that I have run in that had a crowd for all 13.1 miles.

This was before my walk to the start, minus my Grizz headband

This was before my walk to the start, minus my Grizz headband

I did a fairly decent job of watching my pace early in the race, balancing the hills, sun, and crowds.  In fact, it was not until mile 11 that I really started to feel the effects of the course.  And at that point, I had not fueled besides my water and Gatorade stops, so I just sucked it up and gave it my best attempt to finish.  There is a modest hill at mile 12 that felt like a mountain to me, and my splits reflect that.  I did feel good as I crossed the finish line, and felt that it was a great race overall.

Course: B: It was hilly, but not overwhelmingly so. There were bands throughout the course and quite a bit of crowd support.  Water stops were frequent and there was GU at mile 11, which is where the marathon and half marathon split up.  The finish line, however, was a huge cluster.  It felt like runners were being herded like cattle from receiving our medals to the various refueling options, around the corner to the beer tents.  Honestly, the process would have probably worked better if the race could have use the facilities inside LP Field, not just around it.

And for those of you that frequent The Chive like I do, the water station around mile 7 was sponsored by Nashville area Chivers.  It was great to see all those green and BFM shirts.

Race swag

Race swag

Swag: A: A nice looking tech shirt and two medals!  One medal was for completing the race and one was for being a St. Jude Hero.  The bonus medal was not from St. Jude, but rather the fundraising medal given to everyone running in a Rock ‘N Roll event for charity.  The 2014 Country Music Half Marathon medal and race shirt were MUCH better than years past, especially the 2012 medal and 2010 shirt.

Rock 'N Roll charity medal that I received for being a St. Jude Hero

Rock ‘N Roll charity medal that I received for being a St. Jude Hero

Overall: A-:  Fun race with tons of support and upgraded swag.  Weather in late April in the south can be quite unpredictable, but this year we really dodged a bullet.  It was almost a perfect day for running, and I finished as the heat began to set in.  I would certainly run in this race again.

Quick Update: I’m Not Dead!

Standard

It has been over a week since my last post, and first, I want to assure everyone that I am still here, plugging away!  The hills of Nashville did not consume me!  This is the last week of the semester and I have quite a bit of work left to do.  Some of this is due to my procrastination, and some is just the nature of grad school.  Also, some of it is due to the Memphis Grizzlies being in the playoffs.  So, as I take a mental break from my 30 page paper and budgeting assignment, I thought that I would do a quick update on what is going on.

First, I completed my 4th half marathon in 41 days in Nashville when I ran the Country Music Half Marathon.  It was a fun event and a full recap will be coming later this week or early next week.  But for now, I want to share the medal with y’all.  It actually looked better in person than I thought it would.

2014 Country Music Half Marathon Medal

2014 Country Music Half Marathon Medal

Second, a couple of months ago I was chosen to be a FitFluencial Ambassador, which mean I will have the opportunity to review some products, techniques, or events throughout the year.  My first couple of reviews from this partnership will be coming very soon.

Third, Monday I finally joined a local running club here in Memphis.  I joined the Memphis Runners Track Club, which is the major running club here in town.  I only did a 1 year membership because I want to see what it is all about.  I am certain that I will post more about this in the near future as well.

MRTC

And one last thing, Go Grizz!  Tonight, at 7:00 PM CST, the Grizzlies will host the Oklahoma City Thunder, here at the Grindhouse.  If you cannot be there, watch on TV.  And look for the battle between Tony Allen and Kevin Durant, which pits the league’s premier perimeter defender against the league’s premier pure scorer. It has been fun thus far.

Country Music Marathon Updates

Standard

This morning the St. Jude Country Music Marathon and Half Marathon released the medals for the event on April 26.  This was the last piece of information to be released by the event since the shirt was released last month as well as the concert and new downtown starting line.  So, for those who are running in the event, or want to, here is all of the released information.

Brooks Tech Shirt

Brooks Tech Shirt

Several people seem to be upset that it is gray, but I do not mind it too much.

CMM ConcertIn past years, the post race has had bigger acts than these three, but people on the Facebook page seem to be excited about the concert.  I am not, but it is free.

Definitely a Nashville feel to these

Definitely a Nashville feel to these

The difference between the marathon and half marathon is a color variation.  These medals reflect Nashville very well.

 

Five For Friday

Standard

It has been a busy week here in Memphis for me.  From work and some improvements on the homestead, I have a few subjects to share with y’all.  And instead of dedicating a post to each, I am just going to encompass them all here.

1. St. Jude sent me a thank you for being a St. Jude Hero.  I am not sure if this was a thank you for the canceled St. Jude Marathon Weekend last December or the upcoming Country Music Half Marathon, but it was a nice surprise.  St. Jude sent out a pair of Yurbuds Signature Series Earphones and a Frogg Togg.  So, thank you St. Jude!

Thank you St. Jude!

Thank you St. Jude!

2. I wanted to share a couple of photos from our newly painted living room.  Here are some before and after pictures of our progress.

Before 1

Before 1

After 1

After 1 (with our model Beau)

Before 2

Before 2

After 2

After 2 (with a Beau photobomb) 

3. And my personal favorite addition to the new living room, my new Nest Thermostat.  It was not exactly needed, but it is really freaking cool.  My thermostat is now actually connected to my WiFi and I can adjust my house temperature from my iPhone here at the office.  The thermostat learns our heating and cooling habits, and adjusts accordingly.  I also get monthly reports on my energy efficiency and how I compare to others in my area with a Nest.

I have some work to do to where the former thermostat was, but I love my Nest.

I have some work to do to where the former thermostat was, but I love my Nest.

4. This weekend is the Germantown Half Marathon and I cannot wait for Sunday morning to get here.  I am very interested to see how running this event will actually be healthy. Of course, according to the weather report, it looks like it is going to be a wet race.  Current projections so 100% chance of precipitation at the race start time.  If this holds true, this will be the first race above a 5K in which I have encountered rain.  There is a first time for everything I suppose.

5. Thanks to the lackluster effort by the Memphis Tigers last night against UConn in the American Conference Tournament, this entire town is on suicide watch today.  A 72-53 loss on your home court against a team that you already lost tow twice this not easy to swallow, especially when on paper, you are evenly matched with the victorious team.  I think Giffey just hit another wide open three!

Memphis will be seeing this in their nightmares

Memphis will be seeing this in their nightmares

Sports talk this morning in Memphis has not been fun.