Wednesday Roundup

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Yesterday was the big test day, and my unofficial results on the GRE were comfortably above the minimum needed for acceptance to graduate school.  The test was only slightly nerve racking and I’m very thankful that I used a study guide for the past few weeks.  Otherwise, I would have been completely lost.   Now, I need to focus on the rest of my admissions materials, which hopefully won’t be as time consuming as the test prep proved to be.

The Germantown Half Marathon is this weekend and I’m thinking about walking a part of the race this weekend.  I have already paid for the race, so unless I complete the entire 13.1, I’m going to lose money.  The race does offer an option to register next year at a discounted rate of $25 (from the early registration fee of $45) for anyone registered and unable to run this weekend.  You just contact the races hosts (which I already have) and then save their email response until registration opens for next year’s event.  At that point, you contact the race director and you should get a link to the discounted registration.  It is a decent option, especially for those of us straddled with an injury, but I have some reservations about it.  It is very likely that I delete this email over the next eight months and then, I am SOL.  There is also the possibility that the race will fall during spring break and Susan and I will be out of town during the event.  I am tempted to show up as scheduled on race day and just walk the 5K that is associated with the race.  My rationale is that either option means that I am going to eat about $25 of my registration fee, but this way, I at least do something associated with the race.  Plus, my 2013 goal was to complete a race each month of the year, and I know that I had no control over my injury, but I don’t want to fall short of my goal.  I’ll see how I feel this weekend.  All I do know is that I am not going to attempt to walk the 13.1 in my walking boot.

I finally did so cardio today at the gym.  I rowed for twenty minutes and it felt good to do some cardio again.  Of course, trying to use the machine with my boot on was as much a workout as the exercise itself.  I couldn’t strap the boot down, so it kept sliding off the machine, and all of this extra movement nearly caused the death of my headphones.  The wire on my Yurbuds got caught in the track of the seat, and now the wires have been stripped down on them.  So, I guess I’m in the market for some new headphones once again.

After my cardio, I completed another modified :30/:30 Warrior Dash circuit.  Today’s circuit included a couple of repeat moves since the vast majority of the circuits focus on a person’s legs.  Today, I did the following:

  • DB Incline Bench
  • DB Lateral Raises
  • DB Front Raises
  • V-Sit on a Bench
  • Pull-Ups
  • Wipers
  • Russian Twists
  • Reverse Crunches
  • Straight Leg Lifts
  • Supermans

Sadly, I noticed today that my strength is not where it was a couple of weeks ago, nor is my stamina.  Now that I have an idea of what I can do at the gym, I need to start pushing it again.  Warrior Dash is only five weeks away, and it would be great not to embarrass myself there.

There are only three episodes each left for Justified and The Walking Dead this season, so that means there will be a significant gap between the end of these seasons and the beginning of the final eight episodes of Breaking Bad.  I have been enjoying The Americans and The Following, but neither are near the quality of the other three shows.  But baseball season is starting (Go Braves!), and hopefully my foot heals quickly so I can enjoy the April running weather here in Memphis before the heat becomes too unbearable.

 

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Half Marathon #2

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I’m still sick so I didn’t get to workout yesterday.  Actually, my symptoms have gotten a little worse and I decided to take another day off of work today.  Now I’m waiting on the repairman to come repair the heating unit in the house and taking a break from studying fractions for the GRE, so I decided to do my writeup on my second half marathon.

My second half marathon was the St. Jude Half Marathon here in Memphis on December 1, 2012.  After my previous half marathon (the 2011 St. Jude Half), I was little burnt out on running and I really didn’t do much of it for a couple of months, so I decided to signup for the half to help avoid falling completely off the horse.  I imagine that I will run this half marathon most years because the date is very convenient for training, the weather is normally fairly comfortable, and is for a fantastic cause.  Any event that raises money for St. Jude is worthwhile to me.   Plus, the expo is top-notch with lots of vendors and is very well-organized.

As I was approaching the home stretch

As I was approaching the home stretch

The race day was warmer this year than last, but still wasn’t too uncomfortable.  It was 55 degrees when the race started and was 73 degrees by the time I crossed the finish line.  That would be perfect weather in normal circumstances, but the day before at the expo, the weather was nearly 15 degrees cooler and 73 in December feels a little warmer than 73 in the spring.

The course does an excellent job of incorporating some of Memphis’ greatest attractions and despite some hills over the last few miles, the terrain is not too terrible.  The course starts by the FedEx Forum, snakes through the arts district, goes along side the Mississippi River, on Beale, through the heart of downtown, through the campus of St. Jude (everyone’s favorite part), down to Overton Park and back, past Sun Studios, and finishing in the outfield of Autozone Park.   There are plenty of aid stations along the way and several spectators cheering you on throughout the course.  There is also lots of live entertainment, and when you run through St. Jude, most of the patients are there, cheering you on your way.  It is a fantastic feeling and a great reminder of why we are running.  I have not run the full marathon yet (this was my goal for this year but decided to try the Walt Disney World Marathon the following month) but from what I have seen and heard, the second 13.1 is very boring.  Virtually no spectators, more hills, and lots less Memphis landmarks along the way.  Of course, I’m certain most marathon spectators lose their steam by the time hour four hits, so this probably isn’t only a St. Jude Marathon issue.

I had originally hoped to improve upon my time from last year’s event, and my early training had me in perfect position to do this, but my wedding, bachelor party, and honeymoon was a greater time investment than I anticipated, so I did very little running in the month on October.  I still felt prepared for the race and was confident that I would not embarrass myself when race day came about.

Tech shirt & my bib

Tech shirt & my bib

The only real problem I have with this race is the  amount of people who don’t honor the corral times.  I have noticed with some of my other registrations that you have to prove your ability to run a race in a certain time or be relegated to the final coral.  I know that I am not going to be competing for the cash prize, or even placing in my age group, but it would be nice to not to have to avoid walkers in the first mile!  And when I say walkers, I mean dozens of them before the first half mile has even come.  It took me to mile seven this year to get free of the congestion of walkers this year.  I admire the people for getting out there, but it takes quite about of energy to pass these people and weave in and out of the crowds for that long.  I find that my annoyance with these people gets me out of my race strategy and I have an even harder time maintaining my pace.  Oh well, there isn’t much I can do about this issue, it is just something that I will have to deal with each year.  Maybe I’ll jump up a coral or two and see what happens.

2012 Medal > 2011 Medal

2012 Medal > 2011 Medal

The swag this year was improved over last year in every area.  All racers were given a tech short whereas in year’s past only the full marathon runners were given a tech shirt.  I overheard several people applauding this decision this year and despite the warmer temperatures, I saw numerous people wearing their shirts during the race.  All racers were given a small workout bag again this year to carry your items in at the expo as well as on race day.  Since Susan comes with me, I don’t get much use out of this, but probably will for these out-of-town races that I am planning for this year.  I got lots of samples at the expo, including finding my correct size for my Yurbuds.  This year’s medal was also far superior to last year’s.  It is slightly bigger, has more weight to it, and the icon in the middle is a spinner!  Also, the ribbon on which the medal is hung looks leaps and bounds better for 2012.

I ran, what I felt was about as good of a race as to be expected.  It had been warmer than the last couple of weeks, I missed a month of training, and I had no real taper time.  With all that said, I completed the course in a time of 2:21:54!  That was good for roughly a 10:54 pace, not a personal record, but I was still very happy with my time, all things considered.  On a positive note, I felt much better post race than the previous year and was not burnt out at all.  This is what solidified my idea of a race each month of 2013 and why I wanted to try some new half marathon course.

Course: A: Great course, the inclusion of several Memphis landmarks and the St. Jude campus more than makes up for the two long stretches of nothing from St. Jude to Overton Park and back.

Swag: A-: Better than last year.  The race shirt this was a tech shirt and the medal was a much improved design.

Experience: A+: Simply seeing all of the St. Jude patients and knowing where your money is going, especially when you are a St. Jude Hero, makes the day more than worthwhile and am very happy the my first two half marathon experiences were here.  It is also why the race sells out very quickly every year.  In 2011, I signed up in July and was one of the last runners to get in.  In 2012, I signed up on the first day, and the race was already over half full.

Overall: A: I love this race and want to do my best to keep it on my schedule every year.

Gear

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Every runner knows that you can’t achieve your goals without the proper gear, so here is some of my equipment that I use for every run.  I guess I should mention that all of these items have been purchased from retail vendors and I do not get compensated in any way to plug these items; they are just what I currently like to use.

When you run long distances, you tend to have to shop for shoes quite often.  Most runners get 400-500 miles from a pair of shoes (according to info I found) and having a backup plan is a good, but expensive idea.  I tend to overpronate when I run, so I went shopping for a pair of shoes that helped with this running style.  After some extensive research, I settled on the Nike+ Zoom Vomero 7.  It is a light shoe with great cushioning and numerous color options.  I chose the gray/orange combo against the protests of my wife.  I also have an old pair of Asics that I wear in muddy trail runs and a pair of Nike+ Livestrong shoes that I occasionally use, but the Vomero 7’s are my curreny and primary running shoe.

nike_zoom_vomero_7_road_running_shoes_mens

For my most recent birthday, my wife got me the Nike+ Sportswatch GPS with Nike+ Sensor.  The GPS is powered by TomTom and it is very easy to upload data from the watch to my computer.  Whenever and wherever I run, I can record data with this watch.  The watch utilizes its GPS function when I’m running outdoors and the sensor (which slips into the shoe of my shoes) works perfectly when I decide to use the treadmill.  The watch tells me my current pace, average pace, distance traveled, calories burned, Nikefuel earned, time elapsed, and current time.  If I don’t run for a few days, the alarm goes off as a gentle reminder to get back out there.  After uploading the data to my computer, the Nike+ website will track my runs so I can see my progress or regression, as well as keep track of my weekly, monthly, and yearly miles.  I also can add notes about the weather, which shoes I wore, how I felt post race, and any notes I might want to write to refer to at a later date.  My personal records and trends are just a click away, as is my routes.  This is the perfect device for any runner, especially a nerdy runner like me.

nike tomtom watch

I wear numerous brands of tech shirts and shorts, and I really can’t tell much of a difference in any of them.  My Nike shirts seem to be a touch bigger than the others, but not enough that I need to buy a different size than the other shirts.  Being a heavy sweater, and bald, I need to wear a hat while I run.  The problem is, every hat will be sweated through between miles 3 and 4, regardless of the temperature.  I will say though, my Under Armour hat dries quicker than my Nike dri-fit hat, so I do prefer to wear the Under Armour one.   I don’t have any specialty running socks that I use, but I may investigate those this year.

I use the Yurbuds Inspire earbuds and they are excellent against sweat and the weather.  The company claims that they are guaranteed not to fall out, but that is not quite 100% true.  You must find the proper size to wear and insert them into your ears utilizing the proper technique.  Yurbuds has great customer service and is very dedicated to getting customers into the proper head gear.  I had a size 5, but after consulting with them, it was determined that I needed a specialty size 4.  They exchanged my earbuds free off charge, even though I was well beyond the warranty exchange period.  My Yurbuds do stay in my ears better than any other product that I have tried, but I have had an issue or two with them falling out when I get extremely sweaty.

I carry my iPhone with me when a run and use an Armpocket XTREME i-30 to hold it.  I chose this product because I’m asthmatic and it can hold my phone, inhaler, gels/GU’s, and keys.  It is comfortable and keeps my stuff dry, but it was not designed for the iPhone 5.  When I had my iPhone 4, the phone fit perfectly and I could store everything with no issues, but now, the headphone jack juts out a little bit.  It isn’t that big of a deal, just a minor inconvenience.  The printing on the product is reflective and once I put on the arm band, it never moves.

WebBlackXtremeSGS111

On my longer runs, I use a Camelback pack for my water.  I went with the 70 ounce version that is used by the military basically because it is what I already had.I’m sure wearing a backpack full of water isn’t for everyone, but I do prefer it to carrying a water bottle.

I don’t always carry my id on me, even though I easy could in the Armpocket, but I do always wear my RoadID bracelet.  It has my name, brief medical info, and emergency contacts on it, as well as a short inspiration quote on it.  This is great info to share in case of emergency, especially for someone with a severe allergy, asthma, or contagious disease.  I went with the RoadID elite and I actually wear it all day.  It has a black, silicone band with a metal watch like buckle and a metal information plate.