Oak Barrel Half Marathon Course Preview

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

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

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

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

  • This is NOT a flat course.

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

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

  • There is one other hill that is very short.

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

  • The last mile is flat.

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

The advertised course with elevation.

The advertised course with elevation.

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

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

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Motivation Monday

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It has been a long time since I posted a Motivation Monday post, but I came across this picture earlier and thought it was a great reminder with something I struggle with.  I, for one, get consumed with how many times a week I run and where my weight is at on a daily basis.  This obsession sometimes causes me to neglect my actual progress.  This is also quite appropriate for my post marathon funk that lasted for a month or so.

Just get out there

Just get out there

I have my next half marathon (Germantown Half Marathon) on this Sunday morning, so getting in the proper frame of mind will be crucial, especially since I missed my training run yesterday due to some work obligations, a sick wife, and remodeling at the house.  But, since the weather is great again today and I gained an hour from Daylight Savings Time, I will be able to log some miles after work.

Rookie Running Mistake

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Today I made a rookie mistake on my run.  I went for my long run for the week this afternoon, and decided to try it without properly fueling.  I had a big breakfast and was not very hungry, so I did not eat lunch.  I washed both our cars, bought some groceries, and decided to run my eleven miles while it was still daylight.  I honestly did not think anything about fueling and just headed out.  I was a little sore from raking leaves yesterday, so I thought that I was not going to have my best runner ever.  Also, I drank a little bit last night, so I was not optimally hydrated.  Early in my run, I felt good, even if I was slow.  I had some Sports Beans around mile five, and drank water as I felt I needed some.  Around mile nine and a half, I all of my extremities started tingling and I did not feel right.  I decided not to push it so I started to walk.  I had nothing left in the tank and I had no clue what was happening.  Once I made it back to the house, I grabbed a quick bite, and started to feel better immediately.  Let’s just say Susan was not happy that I ran eleven miles without eating anything for roughly six hours.  This was a rookie mistake, and just a reminder to pay a little closer attention to what I am doing out there.

Says it all, really

Homer says it all, really

On a brighter note, this was an amazing weekend and I was able to get quite a bit accomplished around the house.  We have pine trees around our house, and this is such a pain to deal with.  They drop pine needles and branches all year-long and they constantly need to be raked up.  I had not raked any of these needles in a couple of months, so I had a rather large task on my hands.  I ended up having twenty-three thirty-nine gallon bags of pine needles when I finished raking on Saturday.  I was shocked to see grass in my backyard!

Reminds me of Snuffleupagus

Reminds me of Snuffleupagus

This looks much better

This looks much better

After my yard work, I decided to relax, so I sat outside in the sunny, sixty-five degree weather and read a book for a little bit.  It has been so cold and dreary here this winter, so it was great to be able to relax outside. And of course getting to grill a steak on the grill without freezing to death was an added bonus as well.

Now, it is time to watch The Walking Dead and True Detective.

One Year of Blogging

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Today marks the one year anniversary of me starting this blog.  Over the year, this blog has taken shape and I have learned quite a bit about running, gear, and gained valuable insight into my running ability.  This blog originally was started to hold me accountable for my 2013 goal of running at least one race in each month of the year, and continued to evolve from there.  I had some posts that I thought were great, some that were not that great, and a reference to help improving my running.  I would like to sincerely thank each and every one of my subscribers because without you, this would just be a personal journal and an odd one at that.  And since today is the one year mark since I launched this blog, I thought that I would look at some of the posts and stats from this first year.

tumblr_m61uyec7p31rqfhi2o1_500Most Popular Posts: My most visited page was obviously my home page, but besides that, my three most popular posts were as follows:

  1. Platinum Sombrero Virtual 5K – this is the page for my virtual 5K that I used as a fundraiser for St. Jude.
  2. Warrior Dash Mississippi 2013 – this is my wrap-up post from my first Warrior Dash event back in April.
  3. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Cancun, Mexico 2013 – recap of Susan and I’s Mexican vacation from the summer which focuses on what we did and how I kept my running streak in tact while on vacation.
This is the first race photo that I have actually purchased.

This is the first race photo that I have actually purchased.

How People Find My Posts: WordPress provides stats about how people stumble across posts on your site, whether it be from Facebook, Twitter, emails, or search engines.  And if someone comes to your page via a search engine, they provide the search term used to find your post.  Often, these search terms are quite random and even absurd.  The following are some of the most random:

  1. Adult Race Car Bed – I have no clue
  2. Susan Guess Inside Out & Me Too Shoes Susan – random juxtaposition of words in various posts on this site
  3. Got My Period on Warrior Dash Day – ummmm
  4. Nutrition Month Sumbrero Design – no clue what this person was actually looking for
  5. Warrior Dash Chair Run – I am unaware of this obstacle, but I have generated several search results via people looking for Warrior Dash information, so that is a positive.
This is my medal rack thus far - it was a busy year

This is my medal rack thus far – it was a busy year

Country Breakdown: WordPress also provides breakdowns of where site visitors are from.  This is a very neat site feature and some of the countries seem made up to me.  For example, Brunei Darussalam cannot be a real place (it is on the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia).  The rest of the country stats are kind of boring with the United States being first, Canada second, United Kingdom third, and Mexico fourth.

2013: Year in Review

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2013 was a busy year with quite a bit of running and several new experiences.  After this morning’s run, I have logged 835.12 miles total for the year and participated in 29 total events this year!  And I did all of this despite being injured for a portion of the year, and also battling a very hot summer here in Memphis.  I earned some great bling, tried new races, and achieved multiple PR’s.  I also hosted my first event, the Platinum Sombrero 5K, which helped me raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and gain a couple of new friends from the endeavor as well.  This post, if I write in great detail about each event and experience would be several thousand words long, and I am not going to do that to you.  Rather, I am going to do more of a Cliff’s Notes version of the year here with a monthly breakdown.  For in-depth descriptions of my races from the year, you may visit the 2013 page in my blog and click on each race recap.  Enjoy!

This is every race shirt that I received in 2013!

This is every race shirt that I received in 2013!

January: 1 Race (Virtual 5K), 81.59 Miles.  The year started off with my first virtual 5K.  It was the Resolution Run and the proceeds went to the Hole in the Wall Gang and started my year off right.  I ran no local races since I could not work them into my schedule, but I did run a race.

This was one of the better medals that I received in 2013.

This was one of the better medals that I received in 2013.

February: 2 Races (1 Virtual 5K & My 1st 10K), 65.52 Miles.  I started February with another virtual 5K, the Chilly Cheeks 5K.  This event actually netted me a PR at the 5K distance with an elapsed time of 26:30.  Of course, this is an unofficial time, so hopefully I will eclipse that time in an event this year to remove any ambiguity.  My 10K was the Move It Memphis 10K, and since this was my first 10K, it was an automatic PR.  It was a great event and one that I will run again in the future, just not this year since I have another event happening this weekend in 2014.

Approaching the finish at the Move It Memphis 10K

Approaching the finish at the Move It Memphis 10K

March: 1 Race (HalfMarathon 5K), 18.61 Miles.  This is the month that I was diagnosed with peroneal tendonitis in my right foot.  This occurred two weeks before I was supposed to run in the Germantown Half Marathon, so obviously that did not happen.  I did, however, walk the 5K associated with the event in my walking boot.  This caused a few second takes as I limped through the course.

This is me limping through the course in my walking boot.

This is me limping through the course in my walking boot.

April: 2 Races (1 5K & My First Mud Run), 34.64 Miles.  I was making the slow recovery from my injury throughout the month, but I was able to run a 5K, the FedEx St. Jude Classic Fairway 5K, hosted at TPC Southwind here in Memphis as well as my first Warrior Dash.  Warrior Dash was quite a bit of fun, and a nice diversion from your typical race.  Both events showed a nice bounce back for me from my injury.

This is the first race photo that I have actually purchased.

This is the first race photo that I have actually purchased.

May: 2 Races (1 Virtual 5K, 1 4 Miler), 49.71 Miles.  My virtual run was the May the Fourth Be With You 5K, which I obviously ran on May 4.  The nerd in me made me run this race.  My 4 miler was the Zoom Through the Zoo event, which benefits the wonderful zoo here in Memphis.  It was not my favorite event, but it did lead me to begin using Lock Laces, which was a positive development for my running.  Susan and I also traveled to Arlington, TX for her graduation from graduate school.  It was a great trip and I got some In-N-Out Burger from it as well!

May the Fourth Medal

May the Fourth Medal

June: 2 Races (1 5K & A Virtual Week Long Marathon), 75.56.  My 5K was the third race in the M-Town Series (I did not run in the second one due to travel) called the Gibson 5K.  It was a hot run, but it was worth it.  The virtual marathon was for the One Fund for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing and required that participants run 26.2 miles over the course of the week.  It was a nice training tool for me and benefited a great cause.  I also spent a week Cancun, Mexico, which is always a great thing.  And I even kept my running streak active for the entire week that I was there.

Photo cred to my sister-in-law for the pic of the week

Photo cred to my sister-in-law for the pic of the week

July: 4 Races (1 5K, 2 Virtual 5K’s, including my 1st hosted event, & 1 virtual 10K), 89.33.  This was the most running that I had ever done in a month up to this point, and I earned quite a few good-looking medals.  I ran in the Stars and Stripes 5K here in Memphis, the Captain America 5K, First Avenger 10K, and Platinum Sombrero 5K.  All three of the virtual runs benefited St. Jude and my personal event netted $734 for St. Jude!

Finalized race medal for the Platinum Sombrero 5K

Finalized race medal for the Platinum Sombrero 5K

August: 3 Races (1 5K, 1 Virtual 5K, 1 Virtual Half Marathon), 77.11.  The hottest month of the year and I was thankful for the taper that came before the Tupelo 14.2 in September.  My 5K was the Bardog 5K here in Memphis, the virtual 5K was the Jedi Challenge (another Star Wars run?), and the virtual half marathon was The Walking Dead 13.1, which had a neat, but small medal.  I used the virtual half as my last long training run before my taper.  Susan and I also discovered the greatness that is the Memphis Farmers Market, which became a weekend staple for us throughout the rest of the year.  And I returned to the University of Memphis to obtain my MPA.

A great place to spend a Saturday morning.

A great place to spend a Saturday morning.

September: 3 Races (1 14.2 Miler, 1 4 Miler, 1 Virtual Half Marathon), 82.37 Miles.  The first day of the month saw me run the longest distance of my career up to that point in the very hot and humid Tupelo 14.2 Miler.  The event is known for their medals, and they did not disappoint again this year.  My four miler was the Cooper Young Festival 4 Miler, which saw me shave over four minutes off of my PR for the distance and my virtual half, the Heroes in a Half Shell Challenge (Teenage Ninja Turtles theme) was another great training run excuse.

Awesome finisher's medal

Awesome finisher’s medal

October: 4 Races (1 4K, 2 5K’s, 1 Half Marathon), 80.09 Miles.  I ran two events in one day, the Tap N Run Memphis event and Zombie Hunt 5K, both in the Memphis area, but with drastically different weather events.  The first race was very hot and the second one saw some rain.  The half marathon was the 4 Bridges Half Marathon in Chattanooga, TN, and despite a chip malfunction, I set a PR but nearly five minutes!  It was a fun event and the trip out-of-town served as a nice anniversary trip for Susan and me.  I ended the month with my first ever Color Run, an event in which I was an ambassador.

4 Bridges Medal

4 Bridges Medal

November: 3 Races (2 5K’s & 1 Half Marathon), 100.54 Miles.  I ran all three races over the first three days of the month, which is a great test of endurance.  My first 5K was my fourth True Blue 5K at the University of Memphis, which is my anniversary run, the half marathon was the Midsouth Championship Half Marathon in Wynne, AR, and the second 5K was the SCS Race For Education here in Memphis, but was actually just short of a 5K.  The half marathon was the cheapest ($27) that I have ever run, and was my second fastest half marathon ever!  Plus, Susan and Beau surprised me at the finish line.  This race qualified me for Neptune status in the Half Fanatics, which was cool.  November also saw another addition to our family when Susan and I adopted Molly.

Post race w/ Beau

Post race w/ Beau

Meet Molly

Meet Molly

December: 2 Races [1 Half Marathon (Canceled, But I Ran Anyway) & 1 4K], 80.05 Miles.  December was supposed to see me run my third consecutive St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon, but due to the cold and ice, the event was canceled.  I decided to run the event anyway, as did several other fellow runners throughout Memphis.  I ran in the Starry 4K a couple of days ago just to guarantee my monthly race running streak.  My first semester in grad school ended with a 4.0 and I am now ending the month with my taper for the WDW Marathon.

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

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

All and all, 2013 was a very eventful year, both for my running and life in general.  I am looking forward to next year being an even bigger and more eventful year.

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.

10 Things I Learned During My Long Run

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Today was my last 20+ mile run for my Walt Disney World Marathon training.  It was a wet, muddy, and sloppy run due to the storms here in Memphis yesterday, but the temperature was in the fifties, so there was nothing to complain about there.  Today’s run marks the furthest distance that I have run yet, and remarkably, the run was not longest duration that I have run.  It feels good to notice progress, even if it is small.  But since this was my last 20 miler until race day, I thought it would be prudent to assess the good and the bad from the run to assist me at Disney.

This is my ultimate goal!

This is my ultimate goal!

  1. My wall definitely is between miles 16 and 18.  I know some people claim that the wall is at 20 miles, but for me, this is not the case.  Every run that I have reached this plateau has drastically changed during this mileage.  Now, I must combat it.
  2. When I hit the wall, I need to deviate from my “Barney Stinson All Rise” playlist.  Instead, it seems that some variation of 80’s power ballads, Seal (Kiss From a Rose specifically), Darius Rucker (Hootie!!!), and songs of similar stature.  These are songs that are not adrenaline boosters, but rather songs that you sing along with and put you in different place mentally, which is huge.

    All rise music

    All rise music

  3. 20 mile runs in my neighbor are BORING!  It wears on you as you plod along.  I cannot wait to be at Disney so there are spectators, cast members, and characters to cheer me along.  I think that I chose wisely by picking WDW Marathon to be my first.  There is going to be so much going on throughout the race.  Also, the adrenaline boost of actually running a race will be nice as well.
  4. Gatorade, or a similar drink are important on these longer distances.  I almost exclusively drink water on my runs, but today I tried some Gatorade and it was a life saver.  The electrolytes and change in taste palate was crucial to aiding my run.
  5. Running with a CamelBak now will pay dividends later.  I use a CamelBak for my longs runs so I have plenty of water throughout the run.  This adds some weight and adjusts my posture slightly.  Today, when I grabbed a bottle of Gatorade around mile 18, I dropped off my CamelBak at the house and felt better over my last few miles.
  6. Susan bought me some new shoes for the race and I after the added mileage today, I think that they will be ready for race day.  She opted for the Asics Nimbus, a shoe that I listed in my runner’s Christmas list a few weeks ago (I will explore what all I received from the list for Christmas and my birthday as well later this week).  She actually has a plan for what I should wear on race day, but more on that in the upcoming weeks.  I now have 35 miles on the shoes and will have a little over 50 on them by race day.  Actually, once I hit 50, I am putting them away until the marathon.

    Asics Gel Nimbus 15 - Susan opted for a black pair

    Asics Gel Nimbus 15 – Susan opted for a black pair

  7. The race is only three weeks away, and I cannot wait!  This time of year leads to a running funk, but as I was eclipsing mile 22, it began to sink in that the race is rapidly approaching.  These long runs are going to serve a purpose, and my mental state, which faltered today, will be perfect on race day.
  8. My Nike+ watch will not make it for the entire run if I do not charge it properly prior to the race.  Today I got the low battery warning, but I know that it was not fully charged.  I will do what I need to in three weeks to charge the watch.
  9. It is a good thing that I ran these miles today because I am now at my parents’ house, and my mom has quite a few Christmas treats to enjoy.  She has some chocolate oatmeal no bake cookies, a homemade pecan pie, and her famous German cheesecake!  The 4,000 plus calories that I burned today will be consumed before bed tonight!
  10. These little lessons that I learn during the runs are just as important as the building of mileage.  Knowledge of how your body will react and just what it feels like to run 20+ miles.  Prepping for all facets of the run will strengthen the run.

It is hard to believe that race day is only three weeks away!  In fact, exactly in three weeks from right now, Susan and I will be enjoying a steak in Canada at Epcot.  That sounds like a great post marathon meal to me!

I will be here on 1.12.14

I will be here on 1.12.14

To all my fellow Disney runners, I hope this last week of long runs went well for you and you are prepped for the big day.