Throwback Thursday: Revisiting a Rant

Standard

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).

2014 Race Updates

Standard

The last couple of weeks have seen some adjustments to races on my 2014 schedule as well as one that I ran last year.

The before and after pic

The before and after pic

Warrior Dash Mississippi.  Sadly, this year I am no longer able to run in a Warrior Dash event.  Last year I had a blast at the event, but yesterday I received an email stating that the venue and date for this year’s event has changed.  The new date is April 26, which happens to be the same date of the Country Music Half Marathon in Nashville, so I had to forgo the Mississippi event.  I could have transferred my registration to another location, but the other nearby events are on weekends that also pose conflicts.  Therefore, no fuzzy warrior hat this year.  Oh well, I still have a Tough Mudder and Spartan Race coming.  And I guess I need to find a race for May.

Country Music Half Marathon.  I have never ran in this event, but tomorrow morning they are announcing their new route.  A few weeks ago, they announced that the start line will be moved downtown for the event.  It should be interesting to see how the new route is received.

Awesome finisher's medal

Awesome finisher’s medal

Tupelo Marathon and 14.2 Miler.  I am not running in this event this year due to it being held on the same day as the Disneyland Half Marathon, but I found it interesting that this event is also trying a new course.  The difference is that the new course for this event takes away one of the unique caveats that it offers.  The new course is in a different part of Tupelo which means that the 14.2 miler is being replaced with a normal half marathon distance.  The 14.2 distance was one of the features of this event that attracted me to this race, so I am happy that I was able to run it at least once before this change.  I am certain that the race medals will be as impressive as ever.

One Year of Blogging

Standard

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

Standard

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

Standard

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.

Forming My 2014 Schedule

Standard

It is never too early to explore next year’s races, so that is what I am doing today.  Originally, I wanted to run the Disneyland Half Marathon next August to complete the Coast to Coast Challenge, but realistically, making that trip might be out of my budget next year.  My wife and I are in the early stages of exploring the purchase of a new house, so that is taking priority.  We are saving as much disposable income as possible, so that means I will be running in races a little closer to home.  This means that after the Walt Disney World Marathon in January and Spartan Race in Tampa in February, the farthest I will travel for an event will be a three-hour drive from Memphis.  I might just focus on running in every half marathon in Shelby County, and I will also be able to work in another state by running in a half marathon in Murray, KY, which is very close to my parents’ house.  So, let’s look at the potential races.

Paid in Full, Scheduled Races:

Jan 12 – Walt Disney World Marathon – Lake Buena Vista, FL – My first marathon and a genuine runcation!

This is my ultimate goal!

This is my ultimate goal!

Feb 15 – Special Ops Spartan Sprint – Tampa, FL – My first Spartan race that will allow for a visit with some family and friends in the Tampa area!

June 7 – Tough Mudder – Nashville, TN – Susan is against me participating in this event, but I want to prove myself.

We shall see!

We shall see!

Dec – St. Jude Half Marathon – Memphis, TN – This is my annual event at this point.

Nearby Races That I Am Leaning Towards:

Feb 22 – Oxford Run for Hope – Oxford, MS -Susan is an Ole Miss girl, so anything Oxford should be an easy sell.

Mar 16 – Germantown Half Marathon – Germantown, TN – I was supposed to run this event in 2013, but I was injured and had to limp through the 5K.  I want this to be a redemption run, plus it is here in Shelby County.

May 3 – Warrior Dash – Jackson, MS – I loved this event last year, and really want to do it again.

Oct – Greenline Half Marathon – Memphis, TN – I should be able to work this in for the first time in 2014.

Tempting Races on the Fringe:

Apr 5 – Oak Barrel 13.1 – Lynchburg, TN – Registration opens Oct 27, 2013, and this race has a very unique finisher’s medal.

Apr 12 – Murray Half Marathon – Murray, KY – It is near my parents and would be another state completed, but I can’t run it and the Oak Barrel 13.1

Apr 26 – Country Music Half Marathon – Nashville, TN – I have never run in  a Rock ‘N Roll event, but if I do in 2014, this would be it.

Aug 31 or Sep 7 – Tupelo 14.2 – I might make a return trip to this hot and humid event.

Pipe Dreams:

Mar 23 – Publix Georgia Half Marathon – Atlanta, GA – If this was a month later, I could work in a Braves game too, but both are just wishful thinking for 2014.

Jul 20 – Rock ‘N Roll Chicago Half Marathon – I have never been to Chicago and this would be a good excuse.

Aug 31 – Disneyland Half – Anaheim, CA – I want to complete the Coast to Coast, but my finances are not looking good for this.

I will also add in some local 5K’s, as well as some other events here in Memphis.  I will probably not run quite as many races in 2014 as 2013, but it is still early. At least the WDW Marathon will be partially encompassed with my 2013 budget.

Motivation Monday & Some Randomness

Standard

I reblogged a Memorial Day post earlier to shared some facts about the holiday, but this New York Times article does a much better job of capturing the essence of what today truly means.  It is a quick and informative read and it is much better than anything that I could write here.  Also, allow this infographic serve as this week’s Motivation Monday.  No cheesy running image or quote is more motivational than thinking about the brave men and women that proudly serve for our country everyday.  I would like to express a humble thank you to anyone that has ever served our fine country.

Memorial Day Facts

Memorial Day Facts

Yesterday I ran just over five miles, which marks my longest distance since returning from injury.  It felt good to start to stretch out my runs a bit, inching my way back up to the half marathon distance by September 1 for the Tupelo 14.2.  It definitely helped that it wasn’t brutally hot or humid as well yesterday.  From now until the middle of January, there will be no scheduled running hiatuses, so I need to make sure that I train properly and safely.

Not this kind of streaking

Not this kind of streaking

I am going to try to participate in the Runner’s World summer streaking program this year.  The plan is simple, run at least one mile per day, everyday, between Memorial Day and Independence Day.  This means that you will run a total of 39 consecutive days (40 for me) during your streak.  Since this coincides with my half marathon training and I am just coming back from an injury, I almost decided not to push myself to do this.  But working a mile into a workout is easy, and I don’t have to try to run at PR pace for all 39 days.  An easy one or two mile run can facilitate recovery quite nicely.  More info can be found on the Runner’s World website here.

Social Media Streaking Badge

Social Media Streaking Badge

During the next week or so, there should be at least three product reviews coming from me, so be on the lookout.  With my race coming up, some of the race sponsors gave me items to review for the blog, so I have been doing my best of incorporating these items into my training.  I have also purchased several items, some from race sponsors, some from random sources, and I will be sharing this info as well.  I anticipate the reviews to cover Bulu Box, Energybits, and Lock Laces this week.

A quick reminder that on June 1, Kindrunner officially launches, so head offer to their site early and often.  You can sign up for a chance to win running shoes for a year (up to three pairs) for yourself and a running partner on the site.  Also, for every 500 like the Kindrunner Facebook page gets, a pair of shoes will be given away.

Now, I am going to try to work off these BBQ nachos a bit with a quick run and some TRX or a Warrior Dash circuit.

Friday Recap

Standard

This post is going to serve as a recap of what has been going on here lately that I haven’t had the time, desire, or content to put into a stand alone post.  Your ADD shall be happy.

First, for several weeks I posted about studying for the GRE and applying to grad school, and then the posts abruptly stopped.  I did not give up on my goal of going back to school, but rather was waiting for all of my registration materials to be submitted and official acceptance to come to pass.  And I am happy to say as of last Tuesday, I was accepted into the MPA program at the University of Memphis, with classes beginning in August.  I was advised on Tuesday, so I am now officially registered for a full time class load in the fall.  Add this to my full time job and marathon training, and I will be quite a busy person this fall!

I wrote my Warrior Dash recap immediately following the race, but I now have an update for that post (the entire post can be read here).  I caved in and decided to buy a race photo from the event.  I usually don’t buy race photos because Susan does a fantastic job of capturing them for me and most of the finish line photos are muddled with several other runners.  But this is a photo that she could not take, so I shilled out my hard earned cash for one.  This may be my favorite race photo of all time.  It is all over my social media sites right now.

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

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

On Wednesday, I registered for the St. Jude Half Marathon for the third consecutive year!  This year, however, it was not the easiest of races to register for.  First off, there is a severe lack of distance or specialty races in the Memphis area, so this race always garners several participants.  Second, this year registration was opened early for participants willing to be a St. Jude Hero, which is a fundraiser for St. Jude.  You had to commit to raise $500, $1,000, or $2,500 to participate.  You could wait until June 1 to register for the race without the fundraising requirement, but St. Jude has been posting for months that they anticipate the race being sold out by then.  That may just be posturing, but being that this is the premier running event in Memphis, most people, including me, did not want to risk it.  So at 8:00 am I tried to register and the first two of four pages went smoothly.  The third page took about five minutes to submit, but I honestly was expecting some wait time with the high volume of requests.  The real problem hit with the final page, the payment page.  I put in all of my info and hit submit and waited.  And waited.  And waited.  The page sat there, processing for nearly 25 minutes before timing out!  So I check Facebook and apparently no one has been able to register for the event all morning.  The excuse was that there was a greater volume of registrations than expected.  This race sold out very quickly last year, even if it wasn’t the Marine Corps Marathon sell out numbers, and with the added emphasis out on this year’s race, I expected a little better planning.  They post a number to call and this revealed the third problem.  St. Jude switched from using active.com to raceit.com, and they are not equipped to handle these issues.  Race It was not expecting the volume of registrations that they got and their site crashed.  I have no clue who is to blame for that, but it happened.  I ended up calling four times before I was able to talk to somebody.  The first three times I got a message stating that no one was there to take my call.  Once I finally reached a person, Phil, he was very helpful and finished my registration.  The first three pages of the registration had submitted properly, but the problem was with the payment page.  Phil took my info and I was good to go.  I was assured that my first payment attempt would not be processed and I was registered for the race.  Then yesterday I looked at my bank account, and sure enough, there was two St. Jude race payments debited from my account!  Of course I called, got the requisite apologies, and was assured that a refund was being processed.   As of this morning, that has not happened, but we shall see.  Also, my heroes page is not up yet,l but with all of the other issues that they have had, I will not hold my breath for them meeting the 24-48 hour pledge (we are currently sitting at roughly hour 50).  For first time St. Jude racers, I could see this leaving a bad taste in their mouths.

The Memphis Grizzlies are one win away from moving on to the second round of the playoffs for only the second time in franchise history!  And I will be there tonight to hopefully witness this happen.  The Forum and all of downtown Memphis will be electric tonight, especially since music fest, the Redbirds (weather permitting), and the Grizzlies are all going on downtown this evening.  I can’t wait to get to the Grindhouse tonight!

ZBo holding tonight's Growl Towel!

ZBo holding tonight’s Growl Towel!

Tomorrow I will be running a nerdy virtual 5K called May the Fourth Be With You 5K.  Yes, that means it is a Star Wars themed event.  I will post the pic of the medal and bib tomorrow, hopefully.

And don’t forget that registration for the Platinum Sombrero Virtual 5K is still ongoing!  There will be giveaways from KT Tape, RoadID, the Flip Belt, Spriggs, SPI Belt, Fuel Belt, Bulu Box, Lock Laces, Pro Compression, Sweaty Bands, BIC Bands, Balega socks, a Running on the Wall medal display, and swag from several MLB teams!  Plus, 100% of the proceeds is going directly to St. Jude! Register today!

Warrior Dash Mississippi 2013

Standard

Yesterday was finally the day that I was able to run in the Warrior Dash, and the weather could not have been better.  It was 70 and sunny with a low humidity.  Susan and I drove down to Jackson on Friday night and stayed with some of her parent’s friends so we wouldn’t have to get up extremely early and drive down on Saturday.  I am very thankful for this option.  It saved us either dropping some cash on a hotel or logging a minimum of six hours of driving time.  I know a couple of people who have run a Warrior Dash before, but I was unable to speak to them prior top the event, so I was coming into this race relatively blind.  I had picked up some helpful hints from various blogs, but the best learning experience was to just get out there and run the race.

Fun Day

Fun Day

Warrior Dash made it very clear that there was no on site parking, but rather you park at a designated area and get shuttled to the event site.  For those of us that ran in Mississippi, it meant we parked at the Veterans Memorial Stadium (home of the Jackson State Tigers) and rode in school buses or limos to Mississippi Offroad Adventures, which was about eleven miles away.  I had read on several blogs that the wait for the shuttles was terrible, but we were able to get on one almost immediately.  I guess it was because we got there early (8:30 am).  We also had no wait on the shuttle home, but the shuttle that left right before us broke down on the interstate.  Susan and I were very happy to not be on that bus.  Once we turned onto the road to the venue, I was glad not to be fighting thousands of people to go up and down this narrow gravel road.  Out elven mile drive took nearly 40 minutes.  They are getting us back for no wait to board the shuttles, I suppose.  We were fortunate enough to be in a stretch H2 limo, or so we thought.  Since we were in the limo, we had stop about a mile or so before the loading area for the buses and walk to the event.  Susan was not pleased about this, especially as we passed an area were participants were being allowed to park their cars, for free (instead of the $10 we were charged).  I looked at one of the cars and it said “Warrior Dash VIP Parking Pass” and I just assumed it was for race day personnel.  That is, until, I saw the car owner dressed to race and putting his free t-shirt and hat into the car.  I have not been able to find how to get this perk, but I’ll keep digging.  I assume it has something to do with the St. Jude Warrior Program.

Lines, lots & lots of lines

Lines, lots & lots of lines

Once we got to the event, I saw what was going to be a recurring theme for the day, lines.  Everywhere you looked, there was a line of people waiting.  And this would not change for the rest of the day.  The did break up check-in into male and female lines, broken into four groups each in order to expedite the process, but they didn’t have enough people manning the lines.  With one person per line, it takes awhile to grab your packet with your bib and timing chip, your t-shirt, and your hat from three different boxes.  And add to this that my line was literally longer than the other three male lines combined, it took me 35 minutes to get my registration materials.  Once I finally got my stuff, I headed straight to the start line in hopes to make my wave time.  It was then that I realized that wave times do not matter whatsoever.  The guy next to me in line was registered for the 3:00 pm wave.  I got in line at 10:04 am.  I ran at 10:45 am.  This was kind of annoying, but they had roughly 250 people running every 15 minutes versus 500 running every 30 minutes.  This was a good idea to help with course traffic, but the later in the day it gets, the more congested the track becomes.  I was shocked by the amount of people who walk the entire course, as well as the amount that skip nearly every obstacle.  What is the point if you aren’t going to do the actual race?  I passed people who left 15 minutes before me within the first two minutes of running.

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

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

The course was very muddy, with several spots of deep mud and standing water.  The mud was nearly impossible to walk through and most people ran around the edges of it.  There were several people falling due to the slick mud and roots.  We probably ran through this for a mile before approaching the first obstacle.  The following is a list of the obstacles as we approached them and my thoughts on each:

The before & after pic

The before & after pic

  • Storming Normandy: low crawl under netting first & then barbed wire.  The first half you were crawling through mulch and sticks which was terrible.  Once the barbed wire started, you had to get very low, thus forcing most everybody to low crawl.  This obstacle took several minutes to complete because of the amount of people freaking out about touching the barbed wire.
  • Trenches: easy obstacle with no wait.  There was four trenches dug in the ground covered with plywood so they would be dark.  One of the four had standing water in the entire trench.
  • Barrier Breakdown: not ideal for short people.  The first wall was probably six feet tall, with the foot hold at four feet high.  You scaled four walls, only had to under one barrier, and then slid down a board at the end.  There was a moderate wait at this obstacle.
  • Muddy Mounds: I honestly thought this would be an easy obstacle & I was dead wrong.  You jump into a mud pit and then climb out.  Climbing on 15-20 feet of mud is very hard.  It is slick, and constantly moving.  The wait to clear this obstacle was very long.
  • Chained Up/Vicious Valleys: It wasn’t actually the website description of Chained Up, but rather a giant cargo net that led you to the Vicious Valleys.  The wait was excruciatingly long just to start this obstacle.  The cargo net part was easy, the valleys were not.  This was another obstacle where people short was a challenge.  Footholds on the valleys were more than six feet apart, so I slid down the board to each and did my best to climb.  One valley used ropes going between two boards.  I would guess that this was the most skipped obstacle on the course.
  • Iron Crossing: another obstacle that was not as advertised on the website.  It was a cargo net hanging that you scaled horizontally.  No wait at this obstacle.
  • Two X Fall:  I am not know for my gracefulness, so I was worried about this obstacle, but I completed it without an issue.  You walk on a narrow board with varying heights, clear a wall, walk on the board some more, clear another wall, and walk on the varying levels of the board some more.  All this while being sprayed by water.  There was no wait for this obstacle.
  • Capsized Catamaran: you climb over two sets of buoys in water about five feet deep.  There was no wait here.
  • Giant Cliffhanger: much harder than I was anticipating.  Imagine scaling a 20 foot wall covered in mud and then doing the same on the way down.  Add to the wall that to reach the ropes you had to run and jump (another problem for the vertically challenged competitors).  There was a very long wait for this obstacle, and the later in the day it gets, the harder it is to complete.
  • Warrior Roast: jump over fire.  The fire isn’t that high, it makes for a good photo, and there is no wait.
  • Muddy Mayhem: last obstacle to ensure that you are filthy at the end of the race.  It is a long crawl through thick mud and water.  There was no wait for this obstacle.

    Cliffhanger, Muddy MAyhem, Two X Fall, Warning Sign (upper left to bottom right)

    Giant Cliffhanger, Muddy Mayhem, Two X Fall, Warning Sign (upper left to bottom right)

All and all, it was a good course, and if you are able to get in the first wave, a person in moderately good shape can complete the entire course quickly.  There are some things that I learned from running in the event this year and some things I will do differently.  First, I had gloves, but they were not needed.  Second, there is no need to duct tape your shoes.  I tied mine tight and I never had an issue, even in the deep mud pits.  Third, run early.  The obstacles get bogged down and covered in mud as the day progresses.  Fourth, put a damp wash cloth in a zip lock bag.  It makes post race clean ups much easier.  There was no hose to clean participants, we all just got into a pond to wash off and then changed in the porta potty area.  Fifth, once home, spray your clothes down with a water hose until all the mud is gone.  This makes your life a lot easier.  Sixth, if you wear glasses, go ahead and wear them on the course.  They will get dirty, but they will survive the race.

Warrior Dash Swag

Warrior Dash Swag

Course: A: I liked all the mud, the obstacles, and the layout.  This was done well.

Swag: A: I like the buffalo hat, the shirt is very soft, and the medal is very functional since it is also a bottle opener.

Mud comes standard

Mud comes standard

Overall: B: The race is fun, with great obstacles, swag, and the ability to donate to St. Jude, but there are some logistical nightmares.  They should enforce wave times a little more, expedite the lines by having more staff dedicated to them, and make the layout of the site a little more free-flowing.  Registration should lead to gear check to the start line to avoid the congestion of people in the middle of the site.  But with the sheer number of participants, there are going to be issues.  I do look forward to doing this event again in the future, maybe even in Nashville in October.

Warrior Wednesday

Standard

Just three days until the Warrior Dash in Jackson, MS, and if I’m not ready physically by now, I never will be.  Preparing for a race is much like a test, you are either ready or you are not, cramming is virtually useless.  But on the same token, I can’t just ignore my workouts for the week leading up to a race.  This is my first obstacle/mud run, so I am 100% certain how to properly prepare the week of the race.  If this were a half marathon or such, I would have my normal taper schedule.

Today’s workout was a run, some weight lifting, and some more running.  My new gym is roughly two miles from the house, so I ran there, did a modified Warrior Dash circuit, and then ran home.  The combined four miles is the longest that I have been able to run in six weeks, and while I was a little slow, it still felt good.  The circuit was two sets of ten exercises, with alternating :30 of lifting, :30 of rest, and a one minute break between the two sets.  The following is what the sets looked like:

  • DB Bench Press
  • DB Bicep Curls
  • Leg Press
  • Chair Dips
  • Leg Extensions
  • DB Lateral Raises
  • Leg Curls
  • DB Front Raises
  • DB Butterflies
  • Side Crunches

The workout felt great, and I only had mild soreness in my foot during it, so that is a positive.  The only real downside was the weird looks I got walking into the gym after a two mile run in 85 degree heat with 100% humidity.  And by downside, I mean for the other patrons, not me.

Course for Saturday

Course for Saturday

The above picture is the course that I will be running on Saturday morning.  The distance is 3.34 miles with twelve obstacles.  And from the looks of it, they are incorporating some of their obstacles from their new Iron Warrior circuit as well as their traditional obstacles.  I am not going to get into much of a break down of the obstacles tonight, but rather wait until I experience them first hand.  I probably will not have a camera to capture photographic evidence of each one, but I’ll do my best to be descriptive.

I have two more sponsors for the Platinum Sombrero 5K that I will be writing about tomorrow.