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.

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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!

WDW Marathon Is Near!

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We are exactly one month out from the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon!  And the festivities around the entire weekend start even earlier than that, especially for those runners completing the Dopey or Goofy Challenges. A few weeks ago, Susan and I received a package in the mail that was a reminder to customize our magic bands and yesterday we actually received our magic bands.  The idea behind the magic bands is great, and I am very curious about how they will work once we are in the parks.  But besides getting our magic bands, yesterday also provided several more exciting developments about the racecation.

These are our Disney Magic Bands.

These are our Disney Magic Bands.

Disney released corral information, course maps, iGift bags, and runner tracking information for the events over WDW Marathon Weekend.  Bib numbers were released last week, click here to find yours, but nothing about corrals were released until yesterday,  Of course, once I got my bib number, I referenced last year’s corral information to get an estimate of where I would be running this year.  My estimation was I would be in Corral C!  This was exciting, even if the race is a chip timed event, being closer to the front than the back will help with the frustration of people walking early in the race and I would not be waiting in my corral forever.  So, I must admit yesterday when I looked up my corral placement, I was shocked to see Corral H!  Last year, Corral H was the very last corral.  I immediately thought that must be some mistake until I looked a little closer.  Last year, the corrals were Elite, then A-H.  This year, the corrals are Elite, then A-P.  This means that corrals are much smaller this year for the race.  I have never ran in a runDisney event before, but I am curious what everyone thinks about this change.  Personally, I think it sounds great and will help with congestion along the course, but that is just my speculation.

This is my ultimate goal!

This is my ultimate goal!

You can find the WDW Marathon map here.  The iGift bag can be found here.  For further info on the other races, go to the runDisney main page, and there will be links to all everything that you need.

I will be here on 1.12.14

I will be here on 1.12.14

This is just a quick post about the Disney info, but once I finish my last paper of the semester (later this day), I am planning on doing a post about running in a canceled event (St. Jude Half Marathon), my birthday, a potential giveaway, and few other subjects.

Weekly Recap and More

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I hope everyone’s Thanksgiving went well and anything that you ate was worth the extra calories.  I know that everything I had been worth it.  It has been awhile since I have posted and this will be more of a catchall post to encompass as much of what has happened for me over the last couple of weeks.

Milestones:

100 miles in 1 month!

100 miles in 1 month!

November marked the first time in my running history that I eclipsed 100 miles ran in a single month.  It was not necessarily my goal, but with my race and training schedule, it happened to work out that way.  I am not sure if I will repeat the same performance this month, but we shall see.  It is amazing how far I have come since beginning my running journey.

Half Fanatics

Half Fanatics

I decided to join the Half Fanatics two weeks ago as well.  My three half marathons in 63 days qualified me for the club, so I decided to give it a shot.  I am not sure what, if any perks come from the club, but it is something that I earned, so I am going to give it a shot.  I am Fanatic #5670.

As previously stated, I set my PR for distance twice this month, and I am building a great base for the WDW Marathon in January.  I have now officially ran over 20 miles in a single run!

Races:

I neglected to mention this in October, but I was able to register for the 2014 Oak Barrel 13.1 in April.  It is a smaller race in Lynchburg, TN and from the reports that I have seen, it is an event with a very loyal following.  Participation was capped at 1,400, and that number was reached in under a month.  Race medals are made from oak barrels, which is fitting for the home of Jack Daniels.  I am really eager to see what all of the buzz about this event is about.

Running & smiling in my first 13.1!

Running & smiling in my first 13.1!

This Saturday marks my third consecutive St. Jude Half Marathon to participate in, and I cannot wait.  This was my first two half marathons and will always be a race that I try to incorporate into my schedule.  This year’s race is going to add a new challenge since the projected weather is going to be quite cold.  The high is 36 degrees, so I guess my cold runs over the past couple of weeks will be beneficial for this race.  I just shivered thinking about it!  Also, I was able to raise over $700 for the children of St. Jude in association with this event as a St. Jude Hero, which is always a good feeling.

Originally, the St. Jude Half Marathon was supposed to be my last race of 2013, but now I think that I am going to run in the Starry 4K at Shelby Farms here in Memphis.  The race takes place at Starry Nights, an outdoor light display at Shelby Farms and participants run through the lights that normally you drive through.  Seems like a fun run and the proceeds go to the park, which is a great resource here in Memphis.

Need For Improvement:

I have fallen back into the habit of focusing on my running miles only.  I need to force myself to do more cross training, both for the improved effect on my running that will be the result as well as my overall health and performance.  The Spartan Race is coming awfully soon, and as it stands today, I am looking at completing several burpees at the event since the Spartan Race gives 30 burpees as a penalty for failing to complete an obstacle.

On Deck:

I am not sure how often I will post over the next nine days or so since I have two 15 page papers, one 12 page paper, and a final exam due during that time frame.  It is definitely crunch time!

I have been given a copy of Magical Miles: The Runner’s Guide to WDW to review for my blog and a copy to giveaway as well.  I have looked through the book a little bit, and it is quite thorough.  I cannot wait to dive in for my full review in the next couple of weeks.

A Long, Cold Run

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My WDW Marathon training saw my training reach new heights this week when I eclipsed the 20 mile barrier for the first time! This really should have occurred a couple of weeks ago, but I was ill-prepared for my run that faithful day and I had to settle for a 16+ mile long.  I am following Jeff Galloway’s marathon training plan, which offers plenty of recovery runs and not too many long runs to prepare runners for a marathon.  This week’s long run was supposed to be 23 miles and next week, but with the St. Jude Half Marathon in two weeks, I decided to push up the run a week.  I will likely do the same for my next long run,  26 miles, but I will wait and see on that.  Also, I decided to go for 21 instead of 23 since it was the median between 16 and 26.  I felt that splitting the difference was a more prudent move.  I hope that I was right!

Yep, it was cold.

Yep, it was cold.

It was colder than the norm here in Memphis and I do not have much experience with running in the cold.  Usually I have a lull in my running schedule after the St. Jude Half and the runs I do complete are of a shorter variety so I can work them in on the warmer days of the week.  I know that several of my readers live in colder environments than what I experienced, but a wind chill of 14 is nearly crippling to a southerner like myself.  But I sucked it up and I got out there to complete my run.  I really do not have the proper attire for weather this cold, but I made do with a tech tee, half-zip jacket, and an Under Armour skull-cap.  I do not have any long pants that I can run in and this is a problem that I need to rectify before my next cold run.  In fact, it was so cold that ice was forming from the condensation and sweat on my Camelbak.  That was certainly a first for me!

Yep, that was ice on my Camelbak

Yep, that was ice on my Camelbak

The run went about as well as I could have hoped by going into uncharted waters. My pace was about what I expected and hoped for during a training run, even if I started to tail off after mile 16 or so.  I decided to use a run/walk ratio of 3:1 after mile 17 and while this helped with my training, it did not help combat the cold!  Actually, the Galloway plan calls for run/walk ratios for training runs, especially the long ones, but this is the first time I experimented with a true run/walk ratio.  Come January 12, if I start to struggle, this 3:1 ratio will be how I complete the race, so getting familiar with how I would do that process is helpful.

Another takeaway from my long run is that I was starving by the end.  Before half marathons, I typically have a banana and some peanut butter, but this was not sufficient for 20 miles or more, even with some race fuel.  I also did not carb load prior to the run like I would an actual race, but I certainly will do that for future long runs of this distance.

The Bad Run

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We have all had a run that did not go exactly to plan.  Our pace was off or we could not complete the desired mileage or we experience more than usual pain or we encounter any myriad of obstacles to the run.  The point is that we all have had a run that falls short of expectation.  It is a part of running and should not be  too discouraging.  After all, we are still out there, logging miles, and putting forth the effort to get better.  As long ass we are running smart and prepping well, we will get something out of the run.  Sunday’s long run provided me with some teachable moments from one of the worst runs of my life.  Well, it probably was not  the worst run of my life.  That distinction would certainly go to elementary school gym class, when I was a fat little kid that got winded checking the mail.  But this run is definitely the worst that I have had since I started my running hobby.  Even the run that caused my injury was not bad since I did not feel the wrath of the injury until the following day at the office.  What made this run so bad was that it could have been avoided.

Knowing your body and what you need to have a successful run is quite important.  Ignoring what it takes to have a successful run is not wise, and is what causes so many people to become jaded about the sport in general.  My run on Sunday was scheduled to be 20 miles, but I did not reach this goal for a multitude of reasons.  I was not mentally or physically ready for this run, which was to be the longest that I have done up to this point, and vital to my WDW Marathon training plan.  Let’s look at the ways that I failed on this run.

It happens to all of us, I suppose

It happens to all of us, I suppose

1. I was hungover.  Susan and I went to a fundraiser for the Streetdog Foundation here in Memphis the night prior to my run.  They had bourbon.  I like bourbon.  I drank bourbon, a lot of bourbon.  Thus, I was dehydrated and not well rested for the 20 mile run.  I have drunk in moderation the night before runs, but never runs of this magnitude and never to the excess that I did on this evening.

2. I did not properly fuel. Since I was hungover and dehydrated, I was also starving.  I did not have my usual prerun foods at the house, and decided to postpone my run until the afternoon.  This would have been fine if I would have gone to the store, bought some bananas, maybe a Gatorade, and spent the morning prepping for the run.  I did not.  Instead, we went to one of our favorite breakfast places where I ate a large breakfast, and did very little re-hydrating, though the latter was due to our waitress, not me.

3. My head was not into this run.  From step one, I knew that I was not 100%, and this negative energy was not helping once I hit the double-digit miles.  Running is as much a mental sport as it is a physical sport, so when you get off balanced mentally, it can be just as disastrous as a physical imbalance.

4. I did not allow for a proper recovery from last weekend’s races. Last weekend was a huge accomplishment for my running goals and physical well-being.  I ran races on three consecutive days, exceeding my projected times in all three events, and I felt great afterwards as well.  The problem is that I logged over 19 hard miles last weekend, and then asked my body to go longer than it ever had on a single run this weekend.  I probably should have kept my mileage down this weekend and bumped it up to 20 next weekend.

I ended up running 16.10 miles at a pace that was recorded via a sundial.  My legs ached and all I wanted to do was stop running.  I did, however, force myself to run further than my previous long of 15 miles, so there is that.  Sunday’s run is definitely going to serve as a reminder for future runs that I need to stay focused on the entire process.