2014 Year in Running Review

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2014 proves to be a very busy year in my running journey. I was able to maintain my minimum of one race per month for the entire year, which pushes my monthly race streak to 26 months and counting, with races scheduled for the first 4 months of 2015 as well. I eclipsed 1,000 miles (actually 1,001.69 miles) for the first time in my life, and racked up quite a bit of race swag. I completed my first ever (maybe last, maybe not) marathon to launch the year, and double the amount of my lifetime half marathon races this year alone. I established and broke a PR in 7 races this year, and managed to finish in the top 3 in my age group at 3 different races. I also completed the Coast to Coast Challenge by Disney and my first Spartan Race.

2014 in race shirts

2014 in race shirts

2014 Stats: 1,001.69 Miles, 1 Marathon, 10 Half Marathons, 1 Nautical 10 Miler, 2 10 Milers, 3 10K’s, 2 5 Milers, 1 6K, 10 5K’s, 1 Spartan Race, 7 PR’s, 3 AG Finishes

2014 WDW Marathon Medal

2014 WDW Marathon Medal

January: 97.22 Miles – 1 race, 1 PR, the WDW Marathon, which was my first ever marathon, which meant automatic PR!

High fiving Mickey at the finish line - this is such a great feeling

High fiving Mickey at the finish line – this is such a great feeling

February: 59.20 Miles – 1 race, the Special Ops Spartan Sprint in Tampa, FL.

Both of the Spartan Race medals

Both of the Spartan Race medals

March: 69.15 Miles – 3 races, Germantown Half Marathon, Race for Recovery and the Glo Run 5K’s.

Very nice looking medal

Very nice looking medal

April: 76.75 Miles – 3 half marathons, Oak Barrel 13.1, Doc Rock Hal, and Country Music Half Marathon.

My awesome race medal!

My awesome race medal!

This medal is good, can't compete with Germantown or Oak Barrel

This medal is good, can’t compete with Germantown or Oak Barrel

Country Music Half Marathon Finisher's Medal

Country Music Half Marathon Finisher’s Medal

May: 89.52 Miles – 2 races, 1 PR, 1 Age Group Top 3 Finish, Running of the Rams 5K (PR, 3rd in my AG) and the West Tennessee Warrior Half Marathon.

3rd Place Male 30-34 Medal!

3rd Place Male 30-34 Medal!

West Tennessee Warrior Run Medal

West Tennessee Warrior Run Medal

June: 66.75 Miles – 1 race, 1 PR, the Navy Ten Nautical Miler, which was another PR by virtue of a new distance!

10NMMedal
July: 86.08 Miles – 2 races, both of the MRTC Road Race Series 5K’s, I also joined the USMC Fitness Boot Camp for cross training and fitness purposes.

USMC Fitness Boot Camp
August: 98.71 Miles – 7 races, 1 PR, both 5 Milers in the MRTC RRS (PR set via new distance), Elvis Presley 5K, Breakaway Bardog 5K, Hit and Run 5K, Disneyland 10K, Disneyland Half Marathon, thus completing the Coast to Coast and Dumbo Challenges!

Elvis Presley 5K Finisher's Medal

Elvis Presley 5K Finisher’s Medal

Disneyland 10K Medal

Disneyland 10K Medal

Disneyland Half Marathon Medal

Disneyland Half Marathon Medal

Dumbo Double Dare Medal

Dumbo Double Dare Medal

2014 Coast to Coast Medal

2014 Coast to Coast Medal

September: 54.73 Miles – 2 races, both the 10K’s for the MRTC RRS.
October: 104.44 Miles – 3 races, 1 PR, both the 10 Milers for the MRTC RRS (New distance = new PR), and the Greenline Half Marathon.

Finisher's medal for the 2014 Greenline Half Marathon

Finisher’s medal for the 2014 Greenline Half Marathon

November: 97.03 Miles – 4 races, 2 PR’s, 1 AG Finish, 1 Road Warrior Status, both Half Marathons in the MRTC RRS (thus achieving Road Warrior Status, True Blue 5K (another PR at this course), and Heroes in Recovery 6K (PR and 2nd in my AG).

AG Award and Medal

AG Award and Medal

December: 102.11 Miles – 2 races, 1 AG Finish, St. Jude Half Marathon, Run Run Rudolph 5K (3rd in my AG).

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

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

3rd Place AG Award

3rd Place AG Award

It was a very productive, and healthy 2014 for me, and I hope to be able to build upon it in 2015. All race recaps have been linked on my 2014 Page if you want to find out anything further about these events and my experiences.

I hope everyone has a happy and healthy New Year’s celebration!

 

2014 Goals, Halfway Point Check In

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Before the year started, I composed some goals that I would like to reach this year.  And since it is the halfway point of 2014, I decided that it would be a good time to look at them once again.  Consider this an accountability exercise.

2014 WDW Marathon Medal

2014 WDW Marathon Medal

  1. Run a Marathon. This was not an exact goal since the marathon was 12 days into the year, but it was my first marathon and warrants some mention.

    Very nice looking medal

    Very nice looking medal

  2. Redeem My Germantown Half Marathon.  I did not exactly set a land speed record this year, but I was not injured and I did complete the race, so this goal is complete!

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

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

  3. Become a Tough Mudder and a Spartan.  50% complete with the Tampa Special Ops Spartan Sprint in February.  I ended up missing the Tough Mudder event in June.

    My awesome race medal!

    My awesome race medal!

  4. Try New Races.  So far this year I have run in 11 new (to me) races. There was a full marathon, a Spartan Race, 10 nautical miler, and multiple half marathons. Country Music Half Medal
  5. Run More Half Marathons in 2014 Than My Entire Life Prior.  Speaking ofhalf marathons, so far in 2014, I have completed 5 half marathons which is the same number for my entire life prior to this year.  And with 6 more half marathons on the horizon, I should have a couple of chances to eviscerate this goal.

    Log 1,000 miles in 2014

    Log 1,000 miles in 2014

  6. Run At Least 1,000 Miles. Well, at this point to be on pace for this goal I should be at 500 miles.  I am actually at 439.09, so I am 60.91 miles short, so I will need to pick it up in the second half of the year to reach this goal.  February, March, April, and June were all sub-par months.  I need to average 93.485 miles per month for the next 6 months to reach 1,000. USMC Fitness Boot Camp
  7. Focus On Cross Training. By joining the USMC Fitness Boot Camp, this goal will be realized by the year’s end, I just have to stick with it. 10NMMedal
  8. Continue My Race a Month Schedule. So far in 2014 I am 6 for 6, so this goal is going strong.  And I have already paid for at least 1 race in each of the next 6 months, so it is all on me now.
  9. Complete At Least One Pull Up.  Well, this goal has been completely ignored.  I am no closer today that I was at the beginning of the year.  Completing this goal is not looking good, but there are still 6 months left to realize it.

After looking at the data, 2014 has gone rather strongly for me, even if my running times have been somewhat lackluster.  There are some areas that I have lagged, but I have realized quite a few goals as well.  With a few tweaks and adjustments, I should be able to improve on my 2014 results.

Odds And Ends

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

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

Cover Art

Cover Art

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

My transformation

My transformation

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

Enlisted

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

Atlanta today vs The Walking Dead

Atlanta today vs The Walking Dead

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

WDW Marathon Medal Display

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Susan and I made this for my WDW Marathon race medal since it was my first marathon and we wanted it to stand out.  This is very similar to the display I have for my very first half marathon expect Susan and I made this on our own.  She did the painting and I cut it and added all of the mounts.  We may put Disney World down the right side, but we are very pleased with how it came out.

WDW Marathon: Everything But the Race

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I feel that I covered the WDW Marathon and my experience rather thoroughly, so this post is going to be about everything else that I did while I was at my runcation.  Susan and I traveled to Disney World on the Thursday prior to the marathon and left on Monday.  During that time, we squeezed in four days in the parks and several excellent meals.  And since we went down to Disney for the marathon, our approach to visiting the parks was altered slightly from what we have previously done.  Instead of going 100 miles an hour from the second the parks opened until the second the parks closed, we scaled back our time in the parks, but still logged several daily miles.  I also brought my GoPro camera along on some of the rides.

The Resort:  Usually, Susan and I stay at Coronado Springs when we visit Disney, but we could not book a room there for marathon weekend.  Instead, we stayed at the Caribbean Beach Resort, which is the largest resort at Walt Disney World, and falls into the moderate resort category.  Caribbean Beach was very disappointing and honestly was overpriced for what you get.  The interior of the room felt and looked cheap.  There were pools, and beaches, and dining at the resort, as it is at all of the moderate resorts, but the rooms were lacking.  There are no rooms with king sized beds in the entire resort!  Our room had a cheap, white ceiling fan, a Finding Nemo wallpaper runner around the top of the room, and uncomfortable, bland bedding.  For the same price, Coronado Springs has ornate doors and decorations, much better bedding, and closer proximity to the amenities that make the resort a moderate resort.  We will never stay at Caribbean Beach again.

Nemo wallpaper from our room

Nemo wallpaper from our room

Thursday: Between flying into town, checking into the resort, the expo, and an intense rain storm, most of our day was consumed outside of the parks.  We did manage to go to Epcot late in the afternoon to ride some rides and dinner.  Test Track is by far the best ride at Epcot (sorry Soarin’ fans), even if it is just a Chevrolet commercial. and enjoyed dinner at the Coral Reef, which is an underwater themed restaurant with a large aquarium.  You pay more for the atmosphere than the food, but every time that I have gone there, I have found something worthwhile to eat.  On this evening I tried the grilled Mahi Mahi with laughing bird shrimp, hearts of palm, jasmine rice, cilantro, and a coconut-lime sauce.  Susan had the crab cakes and both were good.  After dinner we grabbed a cronut for a snack, which is the greatest thing ever!  It is a croissant prepared like a doughnut (not runner friendly), covered in cinnamon and sugar.  This was the first time we had one and it was not disappointing.  After our dessert, we watched the fireworks show Illuminations, which is a phenomenal show and it is the personal favorite of both Susan and myself.

The Cronut!

The Cronut!

Friday:  We did some park hopping, trying our best to maximize the value for our tickets.  Our day started at Hollywood Studios, where we rode the Tower of Terror multiple times and took in several shows since we were trying to limit the miles we walked.  We also were able to work in a ride on Aerosmith’s Rock ‘N Roller Coaster thinks to Fast Pass+ on our Magic Bands.  Dinner was at the Brown Derby where we enjoyed their “world-famous” Cobb Salad and grapefruit cake.  After dinner we headed over to the Magic Kingdom to check out the new Fantasyland, including Beast’s Castle and the new Little Mermaid ride since that is Susan and my sister-in-law’s favorite Disney movie.  We also watched Wishes, which is their nightly fireworks show.

I used my GoPro on several rides throughout the day, but honestly, they were not that impressive.  Tower of Terror and Space Mountain were too dark to be worthwhile, whereas the Little Mermaid ride is a little slow to post.  I honestly shot that one specifically for my sister-in-law.  I did not use my GoPro on the Rock ‘N Roller Coaster because I was afraid it would fall off (same as Test Track) and it was dark in there as well, so the video would not have been great.

Saturday: We started our day at Animal Kingdom, which is the best park to start at since everyone wants to go to the bigger parks first, so you can do everything you want in a relativity quick manner.  We rode Expedition Everest three times, Dinosaur, and the Kilimanjaro Safari within the first hour an a half of going to the park.  I got an awesome video from the front seat of Expedition Everest since there was not that many people to contend with for seating.  My video for Dinosaur was not great, so I will not be posting it.  So enjoy my video of Expedition Everest!

After leaving the park, we returned to our hotel to relax with Susan’s cousins at the pool.  I did make a return trip to the expo for some fuel and a last second walk around.  Dinner that evening was at Il Mulino and it was easily one of the best Italian restaurants in which I have ever eaten.  I took it easy, but all of our friends and family really enjoyed the food and wine.  The rice balls and gnocchi were both phenomenal and the Caesar salad was hands down the best I ever had.  The portions were huge and I am really glad that Susan and I decided to split the gnocchi.  And honestly, the place was the most reasonably priced meal of the entire weekend, especially when you consider the quality and amount of food you get.  I can not wait to return there when I can fully enjoy the menu and atmosphere.

Sunday:  After the race, we went to Germany in Epcot to refuel and enjoy some liquid refreshment.  My grandmother is from Germany and my mom spent many years over there, so I love German food.  Not to mention the gigantic beers that they serve there.  After lunch, I had to have another cronut, this time a la mode, and then we went back to our hotel to shower and crash for a couple of hours.  That was the best sleep of the entire week!

Prost from Germany after the race for some beers

Prost from Germany after the race for some beers

After our nap, we returned to Epcot for dinner at Le Cellier, which is the steakhouse in Canada.  My first impression of the restaurant was that every employee was incredibly attractive.  It was quite noticeable and unexpected.  Apparently there is something in the water up north.  Now onto the food.  Susan and I split the cheddar cheese soup and Caesar salad for appetizers.  You are also given a trio of breads, all of which were good.  Dipping the pretzel bread into the cheese soups was great. Then we both ordered the filet with wild mushroom risotto and the steaks were on par with any steakhouse that I have had the privilege to previously visit.  It was the most expensive meal of the trip, but it was worth it.

This is Disney Parks photo of the filet at Le Cellier. Ours looked really close to this actually.

This is Disney Parks photo of the filet at Le Cellier. Ours looked really close to this actually.

We enjoyed our trip to Disney, and even though we did not do as much as a typical trip there, we did hit all of our favorite rides and enjoyed some great meals.  I really did a poor job of taking photos of my food while in Disney, so I do apologize for that.

Walt Disney World Marathon Recap

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Now that is a way to start a race!

Now that is a way to start a race!

On Sunday, after months of preparation and dedication, I ran in my first ever marathon, the Walt Disney World Marathon.  This is a wildly popular event, with over 25,000 registered participants for the marathon alone this year!  Add in the other three races of the weekend and there were over 45,000 participants in the running events at Walt Disney World!  Several of these runners were completing either Goofy’s Race and a Half, which entails running the half marathon and full marathon, and Dopey’s Challenge which entails running all four of the races on consecutive days!  As cool as those events are, and as much bling as you can earn from them, I did not participate in either one because this weekend was about completing my first marathon and I did not want to cheapen that accomplishment in any way.  Furthermore, I now have a next step, if I chose to take it, to strive towards in future years.

Often, Disney is associated with the premium price tag that one must pay for the privilege of visiting a park, buying merchandise, or even participating in a race.  But the company does pay attention to the details and very rarely disappoints in the desired quality.  The WDW Marathon Weekend was no exception.  Yes, there were some areas that could, and should be improved upon in the future, but overall, the entire event was ran quite well.

The Expo: The expo was not nearly the nightmare that I was dreading.  This year, vendors and packet pickups were distributed between three buildings at ESPN Wide World of Sports, helping with traffic flow and congestion within the expo.  There were signs everywhere directly participants where to go, and I did not have to wait very long in my line for my bib or race shirt.  There were also multiple areas dedicated to runDisney merchandise (because this is Disney and they do know how to turn a profit), which made it easier for runners to buy commemorative items and souvenirs from the various events.  I could not say no and left the merchandise booth lighter in the wallet, but with two new shirts, a commemorative pin, and decal for my truck.  I honestly could have spent more, but I did a good job of sticking to my budget.  And honestly, there really is not a thing that I passed on buying that I regret today.

A big-ticket item at the expo was the release of this year’s runDisney New Balance shoes.  I get the appeal in the shoes, but maybe not the $400 price tag for them on eBay, but the particular models of the shoes do not treat supinators well, so I did not have to worry about fighting for shoes for Susan or myself.  I will say that I know of several people who waited for over six hours to get shoes on Wednesday!  And this wait time was with Disney having a pager system for people buying shoes! Absurd!

Every running vendor imaginable was at the expo, and there samples galore.  I went to the expo twice, once on Thursday when we arrived, and once on Saturday since I forgot some race fuel and needed something before mile 11 on race day.  Both days the crowds were very similar, with the KT Tape booth and the runDisney booths being the busiest by far.  I did not buy anything besides some Sport Beans from other vendors, but I did enjoy browsing around  We were also able to register Susan, Susan, and Richard (the last two are my best friend’s parents who came to support me) for the Chear Squad gold level at the expo.

Chear Squad swag

Chear Squad swag

Chear Squad: Chear Squad is an excellent example of how Disney can turn everything into a profit.  Disney actually sells cheering opportunities for friends and families of runners!  It sounds a bit greedy, but with limited space and 25,000 runners, there actually was some value to it.  Without Chear Squad, Susan would not of seen me cross the finish line.  And that was worth the $65 price tag to her alone.  There were other Chear Squad viewing options along the course, but travel to them were next to impossible, and I imagine very few people could make it to multiple locations during the event and actually see their runner.  Susan gave up trying and just waited at the finish to see me.  Chear Squad members in the silver and above packages also get a swag bag with a waterproof blanket, t-shirt, and Mickey clappers.  Susan was glad that she registered for Chear Squad, but thought that Disney should have made better arrangements for travel between viewing locations and should have had someone dry off the bleachers in the viewing areas since it rained the night before.  If you are going to charge for seats, they should be somewhat accommodating.

Transportation:  This was the biggest catastrophe of the entire event.  Susan and I always stay on property when we go to Disney, and there is an internal shuttle service for guests to the parks, resorts, and shops.  And on race weekend, there were special shuttles to and from the expo.  This worked well for the most part.  What did not was race day transportation.  I was on my bus to the race by 4:00 am.  I was staying at Caribbean Beach, which is near Epcot.  I did not arrive to Epcot until 5:07 am!  And once you are dropped off, you walk across two of Epcot’s parking lots to a security check then to bag check then the porta potties (if you need them) then have a hike down a service road to the corrals.  This was nearly a twenty-minute process, so needless to say, there was no pre-race restroom break.

Also, there was no transportation for resort guests between 5:00 am and 7:00 am, so Chear Squad participants were left to fend for themselves.  Susan was able to catch a bus for last second runners, or otherwise she would have missed the first half of the race!  A little clearer communication on when and where she needed to be would have been helpful.  For future reference, spectators and runners should leave their on Disney property hotel by 3:00 am to accommodate for the transportation issues.

Running through Mexico

Running through Mexico

The Race:  The race itself was ran about as smoothly as possible.  The course was clearly marked, corrals were organized and entry closely monitored, there were frequent medical tents and water stops, refueling stations, and entertainment.  Bathrooms on the course were frequent, but there never was many in one location.  Corrals were released every three minutes and congestion on the course was not nearly as bad as you would expect for a race of this size.  I know some people thought the first few miles were too congested, but what race does not have that issue?  There was a constant stream of runners for all 26.2 miles, and it never seemed to be overwhelming at any of the water stations, of which there were twenty-one.  Apparently, the medical tents ran out of Biofreeze later in the race, but that is just what I have heard.  Bag check might have been the most efficiently ran aspect of any race that I have ever participated in.  Locations were separated by last name, so if your last name started with A or B, you went to one tent, C-E, to another, and so on.  You were provided a sticker with your bib number and last initial which was used to organize the bags.  Dropping my bag off and picking it up took about a combined forty-five seconds.

Weather for the race was not nearly as unbearable as last year’s event.  Temperatures were mild, with the temperature at the race start was 62 degrees, but the humidity was at 100% and the dew point was very high as well.  I was drenched by mile three, but thank goodness that these numbers dropped throughout the race.  By the end of the run, the weather was nearly perfect.  I did forget to wear sunscreen, so I had an interesting tan line from my GoPro camera strap, however.

Getting my second or maybe even my third wind in Morocco

Getting my second or maybe even my third wind in Germany

The Course: It is mostly flat, road with the only real inclines on the exit ramps for the parks and the entrance to the Walt Disney World Speedway.  There are a couple of narrow spots on the course, but the traffic in those areas was manageable.   One of the big draws of the race is that runners get to run through all four Disney parks.  And while this is true, the bulk of the miles still come outside of the parks.  You also run through ESPN Wide World of Sports and the Walt Disney World Speedway.  On the stretches of road outside of the parks, Disney has numerous marching bands, DJ’s, and character meet and greets to keep you occupied.  Captain Jack Sparrow, Lilo and Stitch, Jack Skellington Sally, Royal Mickey and Minnie, Pluto, Buzz Lightyear, White Rabbit, Rapunzel and Flynn Rider, Christmas parade reindeer, King Louie, the gravediggers from Haunted Mansion, Dopey, Wreck It Ralph, Belle, Mulan, a green toy army man, and Duffy were the characters that I remember.  The line for most of the character meets was insane, so to take a picture, you were definitely would sacrifice some time.  My favorite portion of the course was the last three or four miles.  Once you entered Hollywood Studios, you had no more lulls.  You ran through Hollywood Studios to Disney’s Boardwalk to the World Showcase in Epcot to the finish line.  My pace picked up over these last couple of miles and there were several good photos captured over these miles, including one of me high fiving Mickey at the finish!

High fiving Mickey at the finish line

High fiving Mickey at the finish line

My Experience:  This was my first marathon and I really think that I chose well on the location.  I was quite nervous about how my body would react to the event.  I chose the WDW Marathon since it would distract me and help keep the negative thoughts at a minimum.  For the most part, this strategy worked.  I hurt my toe around mile 8 and had to fight that for the rest of the race.  Looking at my splits, you can definitely see a rapid drop-off from the point of the injury.  I am not sure what happened, but the pain was intense for the entire day and is still a little sore.  I do not think it is anything major, but I will monitor it for a couple of weeks to make sure.

The calm after the marathon storm

The calm after the marathon storm

If you were to ask me today if I want to do another marathon, I would probably say no, the half marathon is the distance for me.  Ask me in a couple of weeks, and I would say that it would be something that I would consider.  Ask me in a couple of months, and I would say something along the lines of, “Sure, I know that I can handle the mileage and I need to lower my time.”  So we shall see if I attempt another marathon, but as of today, I am just basking in the glory of knowing that I was able to complete this task and live to tell about it!

My five-hour race in just 7:48!  Obviously, my marathon video has been edited down.  So much of it is such me plodding down a highway, and who really wants to watch that?  I will also be doing a recap of the other part of this trip, vacationing at Disney, but for now, I shall leave you with my overall grades of the event.

2014 WDW Marathon Medal

2014 WDW Marathon Medal

Swag: A+: Good looking tech shirt, amazing medal, plenty of support along the route.  Prior to the race, I was a little bummed that this year’s medal for the WDW Marathon was not as cool as last year’s.  But the more that I think about it, I really do think that this medal is on par with last year’s.  Maybe that is just my enthusiasm talking, but it is definitely my favorite medal.

Shirts & other items from WDW Marathon

Shirts & other items from WDW Marathon

Course: A: There was plenty going on to distract runners and incorporating all four Disney parks was fantastic.  Runners ran through Cinderella’s Castle, on a race track, through Asia, through Champion Stadium, Downtown Hollywood, across the boardwalk, and through the World Showcase.

Prost from Germany after the race for some beers

Prost from Germany after the race for some beers

Overall: A: Great race that despite a premium charge, it feels like I got good value for my money.

WDW Marathon Teaser

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As most you already know, my first marathon was this past Sunday.  I have been working towards this goal for months and realized my goal when I crossed the finish line on Sunday morning.  I am currently writing my race recap for the blog, as well as editing video from my GoPro (yes, I bought a GoPro, more on this later), uploading photos and the such.  I imagine that there will eventually be multiple posts about this event.  Until I do my entire recap (tomorrow or Wednesday, I suspect), here is my official race medal!

2014 WDW Marathon Medal

2014 WDW Marathon Medal

This is officially my favorite race medal!

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.

Race Medals and Stickers: A Discussion

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Disclaimer: this was supposed to be posted a few weeks ago, but oh well.  Better late than never, I suppose.

So over the past few weeks there have been a couple of discussions on the Runner’s World Facebook page concerning the practice of awarding race medals and runners putting stickers on their cars to brag about the achievements.  I am certain that some of this curiosity was prompted by that article in the Wall Street Journal a couple of weeks back.  And after reading some of the responses on the posts as well as on some other running sites, one thing became certain to me, runners are a passionate group of people!  So I decided that I would give my opinion on both of these issues and see who agrees/disagrees with me.

Race Medals

This is my medal rack thus far

This is my medal rack thus far

It seems to be that the first derogatory comment about race medals anytime there is a discussion about the topic is some form of how we should not be a society that just gives a trophy for participation.  While I agree with this sentiment, I do not agree that it applies here.  For the most part, completing a race, rather it be a half marathon, marathon, ultra, and the list could go on for days, is a major accomplishment for the runner.  People run races for a myriad of reasons, and completing the race is a milestone and should be celebrated.  So what if it was not run at a world record pace or that you finished 150th.  You finished the race, met your goal, achieved more than you thought you could.  Take for example my first half marathon three years ago.  This race was a goal event for myself.  I had just completed a major victory in my weight battle and wanted to keep pushing forward.  I wanted to accomplish something that I thought was impossible.  Before I began training for the St. Jude Half Marathon, the longest distance that I had ever run in my life was a 5K.  This event more than quadrupled this distance!  It took hard work and dedication to complete the race, and I was damn proud that I did!  Going from well over 300 pounds to completing 13.1 miles in a 16 month span was an accomplishment in my book.  I was a guy that would get winded checking the mail, and now I ran further on that day than I had for the decade and a half combined prior to my weight loss journey.  I certainly earned that medal on that chilly December morning, and I have earned every other medal that I have received since that point.

My 1st race medal - St. Jude Half 2011

My 1st race medal – St. Jude Half 2011

No, I will not be on the podium as a top finisher in my next race, but I will be competitive with what I have accomplished in the past.  Too often we get caught up with winners and losers and forget that one of the things that makes running so great is that we are competing with ourselves.  Just be getting out there when it is cold, rainy, hot, or we do not feel like it is defying the odds one more time.  We are reaching greatness in our personal history and we deserve a trinket for our efforts.

Race Stickers

Will this hinder your drive home?

Will this hinder your drive home?

The amount of venom for race stickers actually surprised me.  How does it affect your daily life if another person has a sticker on their car?  If the sticker is not hindering their sight lines, derogatory towards another group of people, or obscene, what is the big deal?  If the driver has earned the sticker and wants to share that fact with the world, so be it.  They are proud of what they accomplished and want to brag about that.  By having a sticker on your car, most people are not inferring that they are better than you, but rather that they have accomplished a feat and it makes them proud.  The most appalling comment about stickers on a car was someone on a message board trashing people with the 13.1 stickers on their cars.  The poster’s stance on that distance was that it is an easy distance that anyone can complete whether they train for it or not.  Therefore, completing 13.1 miles is not a triumph and should not be something to be proud of.  I call bullshit on that notion.  Some people can run 13.1 miles without an issue I am certain, but those people are the exception, not the rule.  Rather, it is a triumph to complete a half marathon.  Be proud of your accomplishment, and if you feel inclined to share this information via a decal or magnet on your vehicle, go for it.

After my first half marathon, my running coach from my gym sent me a 13.1 sticker for my car.  I did not hesitate about putting that on my car.  I was proud of my accomplishment and thought that in no way was I showing up someone else.  I have since traded in that vehicle and currently I have no decals on my truck.  It is not that I am suddenly anti-decals, but rather I do not have one at the house that I can use.  But I can guarantee that after the WDW Marathon on January 12, 2014, there will be a 26.2 sticker on one more truck on the streets of Memphis!