Square Life Round World

I'm navigating through this round world while living a square life, and it fits exactly as it should.

St. Jude Heroes Fund-Raising Kickoff Breakfast

This past Saturday I had the privilege of attending the St. Jude Heroes Kickoff Breakfast at Lichterman Nature Center in Memphis.I attended last year’s breakfast as well, and I must say they kicked it up a notch this year. I’m so excited about all the things they have planned to support us through this fund-raising and training season.

Lichterman Nature Center

Lichterman Nature Center

The only money St. Jude receives from the St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend is the money raised by Heroes. All of the registration money goes to pay for the event itself. I didn’t know this until last year. All someone has to do to become a Hero for St. Jude is commit to raising funds. The success of the Heroes program has made the St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend the biggest single fund-raising event of the organization, even bigger than their Dream Home campaign. Because of the success of the Heroes program around this event, St. Jude has expanded its Heroes program to include other athletic events around the country, including the Chicago Marathon, NYC Marathon, and even the Boston Marathon. That’s right! Can’t qualify by time? You can fund-raise your way into Boston with St. Jude. They’ve even partnered with runDisney to offer race entries for Wine and Dine Half and Princess Half for fund-raising.

This particular breakfast was specifically for Heroes raising funds for the Memphis event in December. I’m always impressed by any event this organization puts on, and this breakfast was no different. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming, making sure we all had what we needed. There were table decorations to set the stage, and even a swag table that we were invited to help ourselves to.

Table Decorations

Table Decorations

Swag Table

More Swag

More Swag

Breakfast was provided by McAlister’s Deli, and coffee was provided by Community Coffee. They even gave each of us a training journal, a magnet with the entire calendar of events throughout our training season, a note pad, and pen.

Yummy breakfast provided by McAlister's

Yummy breakfast provided by McAlister’s

Once the program started, we found out they have some surprises in store for us in the coming months. I cannot wait to find out what that’s all about!

St. Jude Fund-Raising Kickoff Breakfast

St. Jude Fund-Raising Kickoff Breakfast

We heard from Kevin Leathers, the national St. Jude Running Coach and owner of Can’t Stop Endurance coaching and consulting. I loved working with him last year, and I am excited for even more opportunities to work with him this year. Last year, he hosted monthly group runs with us and I attended every one of them. This year, I was excited to find out he is hosting WEEKLY group runs starting this Saturday. That means I get to work with him every week from now until the race if I want to. He will also be repeating the monthly training clinics he held last year as well. I will for sure be attending as many of those as I can. Additionally, they will be supporting us through training and fund-raising Facebook chat events. These are great since not all Heroes are from Memphis. Participants from all over the world can take advantage of these Facebook events.

We then met a young man named Ramon and his mother. Ramon was treated at St. Jude for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma when he was 6. His mother told the emotional story of his diagnosis and their fear of not only the dreadful disease but also of how they were going to financially afford his treatment. They were shocked and ecstatic to learn that no patient is ever billed for anything. They were also thrilled that St. Jude didn’t look or feel like a hospital. Kids were laughing and having fun despite their diseases. They put Ramon and his needs first and took care of everyone’s emotional needs as well as Ramon’s physical needs. Ramon is 13 now and cancer-free! She truly feels that if it were not for the work of fund-raisers like the Heroes program, her son would not be alive and countless more kids would die of cancer than do. Her gratitude was genuine and hearing stories like theirs is always emotional.

The entire event reinforced for me why I am a St. Jude Hero. We truly are running for a purpose. We are making a difference in the lives of these kids and countless more to come. Ramon’s mother mentioned that she often wonders if Danny Thomas knew what he was creating 51 years ago. I’m not sure if anyone will ever know that answer to that, but we know now what he did create. He created what would become the world’s leading children’s research hospital, a place where kids and their families can come, financially worry-free, to be treated for cancer and other life-threatening illnesses, where their child comes first, where there’s hope.

Follow me on Twitter @myglasssneaker.

Like my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MyGlassSneaker.

To donate to my personal fund-raising page or make a donation, visit www.heroes.stjude.org/Melanie_Adams.

There is a little time left to register for my virtual run to benefit St. Jude. To register or for details, click here.

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Memphis Runners Track Club Road Race Series 5k Race Report

As you may know by now the Memphis Runners Track Club Road Race Series is a 10 race series of various distances from 5k to half marathon. There are 2 races of each distance, and if you do both of them, they only count your fastest time. This worked out well for me at the second 5k, which was on Sunday, because I had the worst 5k I’ve had all year. The first 5k of the series was the best 5k I’ve had all year.

I attribute my poor performance to lack of sleep, poor eating from work travel, and decreased workouts last week also from work travel. I really shouldn’t be making excuses. The weather was absolutely perfect, and it really was a great race. Both of them were.

I really enjoy the Road Race Series. It’s low-key, and since I suffer a bit from race anxiety, I appreciate low-key. The 5ks were held at the Cancer Survivors Park.

Both 5ks of the Road Runners Series were held at the Cancer Survivors Park.

Both 5ks of the Road Runners Series were held at the Cancer Survivors Park.

I enjoy this course because it’s fairly flat with just enough hills to keep it interesting. It’s also a pretty quiet, mostly residential neighborhood, which helps to make it a relaxing run.

I actually took this as I was walking to the start line.  I wish I was fast enough to be able to sacrifice time to take more pictures on course.

I actually took this as I was walking to the start line. I wish I was fast enough to be able to sacrifice time to take more pictures on course.

There is not much traffic in the area that time of day so they are able to close off 2 lanes of traffic for much of the course, so the course isn’t very crowded.

Just in case you couldn't figure it out for yourself

Just in case you couldn’t figure it out for yourself

Another plus is that I’m starting to meet more people in the Memphis running community, and being able to see the same people at different events makes me feel like a real part of the group. In fact, last night at the Women Run/Walk Memphis program, multiple people said they recognized me from the race on Sunday. It was the Sparkle Skirts. The Sparkle Skirts did it! (Stay tuned for more on this later in the week.)

So a lovely course, fabulous weather, and the always wonderful support made for a fun race, even if it didn’t make for a fast time.

The Finish Line

The Finish Line

In less than 2 weeks, the first 5 miler is coming up. Since I’ve never had an “official” time at that distance, I’m guaranteed a PR, as long as I finish. I have this to say about that: Go Me!

Have you ever participated in a race series?

Follow me on Twitter @myglasssneaker.

Like my Facebook page www.facebook.com/myglasssneaker.

There is still time to register for my virtual run, Magic Carpet Run 2013, to benefit St. Jude. For details or to register, click here.

I’m a charity athlete for St. Jude. To make a donation, visit my fund-raising page here.

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Half Marathon Training Week 1

Training for my fall race schedule has officially begun, and week 1 is in the history books.  If you will recall, I was a bit concerned since I had gotten a little off track.  However, so far, so good!

Just to recap, here is what I’m doing for this race season.  I’m currently doing the MRTC Women Run/Walk Memphis training program. 

MRTC Women's Run/Walk Memphis

MRTC Women’s Run/Walk Memphis

This is really just a training program that includes 8 weekly group run sessions capped off by a “graduation” 5k.  I am using this as one of my weekly training runs, and hopefully, because it’s with a group, I’ll be pushing myself a little more.  I’m also currently doing the MRTC Road Race series. 

MRTC Road Race Series

MRTC Road Race Series

This is a 10 race series that runs from July to November and consists of 2 5ks, 2 5 milers, 2 10 ks, 2 10 milers, and 2 half marathons.  To be considered a series finisher, you must complete either 6 of the races or 1 race in each distance.  My plans at the moment are to complete the first 6 (and still be a series finisher).  The 10 milers and the half marathons do not line up with the rest of my training schedule, so unless I miss a week somewhere else and need to make something up, I don’t plan to do the last 4.  I am registered for the Greenline Half Marathon, the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon, and the St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon.

Greenline Half Marathon

Greenline Half Marathon

Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon

Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon

St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend

Seems like a lot, right?  Not really.  See, when I wrote my training plan for the fall, I realized most of this is in line with my schedule.  The women’s program takes care of roughly a third of my training until September.  The Road Race Series is actually designed to be in line with training for St. Jude so that takes care of some of my weekend runs.  There was really only one decision to make.  I could have used Wine and Dine as a training run for St. Jude and there would have been absolutely nothing extra added to my training plan for that or I could have signed up for the Greenline Half and used that as a training run for Wine and Dine.  The downside to that was that would mean I would likely have to scratch the longer races in the Road Race Series, and St. Jude would be extra, creating the need for a month of maintenance.  Clearly this is what I went with, and here’s why.  Wine and Dine is the only destination race in the schedule.  It is also the most expensive, and has the most stringent pace requirement.  Why would I want to spend at least $1000 and travel all that way for a training run?  I wouldn’t.  So that automatically meant I would need to skip the longer races in the Road Race Series.  On the weekend of the Greenline Half, which is held at Shelby Farms, I was scheduled to do 12.5 miles anyway (which I would also do at Shelby Farms) so why not add another 0.6 miles and get official credit for the run?  This option also will qualify me for something called Half Fanatics, which is running 3 half marathons in a 3 month period.

So week 1 started with the first group run with the women’s program.  It was so hot!  It started at 6:30 in the evening and the heat index was still 99 degrees!  My pace was a good 2 minutes slower than my normal training pace.  I got through it, and that’s all that matters.  I was able to work in my other week day run, according to plan.  Then I also had race 1 of the Road Race Series.  This was a great run!  I even got a PR by 6 seconds.  My pace was actually around 3 minutes faster for the race than it was for the super hot group run.  That’s more like it!

Now on to week 2!  I hope to get more cross training in for week 2 than I did for week 1.  Other than that, I’m happy with my progress and where I am compared to a year ago.

What do you have on your fall race schedule?

Follow me on Twitter @myglasssneaker.

Please remember to register for my virtual race, the Magic Carpet Run 2013 to benefit St. Jude.  For more info or to register, click here.

I am running as a charity athlete for St. Jude.  To make a donation, click here.

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Memphis Farmers Market

One of the things I love most about living in Memphis in the summer is the Downtown Memphis Farmer’s Market.

Memphis Farmers Market

Memphis Farmers Market

Since 2006, every Saturday from April until October, the Memphis Farmer’s Market is open from 7 am until 1 pm. I would not wait until close to 1, though. Go as early as possible for the best selection.

Located right next to the train station, the MFM has an abundance of so many things, not just fruits and vegetables.

Just some of the things you can find at the Memphis Farmers Market.

Just some of the things you can find at the Memphis Farmers Market.

New vendors have to go through a selection process with the MFM board, and there are two very important rules. Number one, every vendor must either grow or make everything they sell. So you won’t find any tomatoes shipped in from who-knows-where being sold for local here. Also, any prepared food items must be made in a health certified facility. This also means the vendor must be licensed to make and sell any prepared food item sold, and it must be packaged correctly. So in addition to fruits, vegetables, and baked goods, you will also find things like local cheese, farm fresh eggs, local honey, local canned goods, flowers, meat and seafood, granola, plants, and even craft items like pottery. This past Saturday, I even saw really unique items like duck eggs and squash blossoms.

My favorite new vendor this year is Pistache.

Pistache specializes in delicate French macaron cookies.

Pistache specializes in delicate French macaron cookies.

Pistache is a French pastry company that specializes in French macaron cookies, not to be confused with coconut macaroons.

Beautiful macarons made by Pistache

Beautiful macarons made by Pistache

These are meringue type cookies with wonderfully flavorful fillings. They are a bit pricy but so worth it for an occaisional treat.

MFM truly is a complete experience, too. They always have live entertainment, and lots of times they’ll have children’s activities.

Live entertainment at the Memphis Farmers Market

Live entertainment at the Memphis Farmers Market

If you want to bring your dog, they have volunteer dog sitters to keep Fido entertained while you shop. No dog? They always have a few rescues on hand that you can take home with you if you’d like. Of course, they keep all of the dogs far enough away from the food so there will be no chance for, um, contamination.

This is also the second year for something fairly new in Memphis–food trucks!

Fuel Truck at MFM sells a variety of tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and grilled cheese.

Fuel Truck at MFM sells a variety of tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and grilled cheese.

On any given Saturday you can choose from Healthy and Delicious for smoothies, Fuel Truck for tacos (among other things), and Rock’n Dough for pizza. I recently tried the pizza for the first time. This is not your normal red sauce pizza. There was not a single selection available that I have ever had before anywhere else.

Pizza with cilantro pesto, corn, jalepenos, and chorizo from Rock'n Dough

Pizza with cilantro pesto, corn, jalapeno, and chorizo from Rock’n Dough

What I tried had a cilantro pesto sauce base, 2 different cheeses, jalapeno, corn, and chorizo. It was so delicious! The crust was just a little bit sweet and was so crispy that it crunched when I bit into it. It was perfect!

They even have small plots available for those who live downtown with no land on which to plant anything but still would like to try their hand at growing their own herbs and vegetables.

These are small flower bed plots so even downtown residents can grow their own herbs and vegetables.

These are small flower bed plots so even downtown residents can grow their own herbs and vegetables.

Without a doubt, the MFM is my favorite place to be on most Saturday mornings. Later in the week, I’ll be making homemade blackberry ice cream with a recent MFM find. Stay tuned for that.

Where is your favorite farmer’s market and what are your favorite finds?

Follow me on Twitter @myglasssneaker.

I am raising money for the kids of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as a charity athlete. To donate, visit my personal fund-raising page here.

If you haven’t already, don’t forget to register for my virtual run, Magic Carpet Run, to benefit the kids of St. Jude. For more information and to register, click here.

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How To Avoid (Or At Least Postpone) The Post Vacation Blues

I don’t know about you but I always seem to come down with a serious case of the post vacation blues (PVB) after returning from a big trip. I was expecting my most recent case to be really bad since it was such an awesome vacation. However, my first week back was so incredibly busy and fun-filled that I didn’t have time to suffer. Here’s what I did.

First off, we usually have to stop for the night on the way back from Disney, and this normally means a business-travel-type hotel. That’s usually my first slap-in-the-face from the real world and is a stark contrast to the magical accommodations I’ve been accustomed to for the previous week. This time, however, we made a detour to Biloxi, MS to spend the night at the Beau Rivage Hotel and Casino. Even though it’s still not quite the fairy tale of a Disney cruise ship, it has a very vacationy feel to it. Everyone is still happy, and there’s no real world slap. The $43 I won within 10 minutes of playing the slots helped as well.

Our view from the Beau Rivage Tower--I'm not complaining!

Our view from the Beau Rivage Tower–I’m not complaining!

The first few days back from work were relatively event-free, which always helps. I didn’t have a mess to return to, and nothing earth-shattering happened while I was away, so no PVB-inducing work needed to be done to fix anything.

Then on Wednesday after returning, I went to an outdoor concert at Levitt Shell, which is an amphitheater in Overton Park, located in Midtown Memphis. Levitt Shell is a free venue, and people simply bring their chairs or blankets, coolers filled with their favorite libations and noshes, and maybe a few dollars for food trucks and an optional donation to the band. Most of the time these concerts are held on the weekends but this one was a make-up date from a previously rained-out show. The band was mediocre but the vibe was cool and it turned out to be a very relaxing evening.

Free outdoor concert at Levitt Shell

Free outdoor concert at Levitt Shell

The very next night, on Thursday, I got to volunteer with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital at Target House Bingo. In case you missed it, read all about it here.

On Friday, I got to play hooky from work for the afternoon and attended the Fed Ex St. Jude Classic, an annual PGA golf tournament in Memphis.

Fed Ex St. Jude Classic Tickets

Fed Ex St. Jude Classic Tickets

Fed Ex St. Jude Classic Entrance

This year, the biggest player in the tournament was Phil Mickelson, winner of 4 majors, including the Masters. It was funny because almost the entire grounds crowd, including me, was following Phil from hole to hole.

Almost everyone was following Phil Mickelson.

Almost everyone was following Phil Mickelson.

Apparently, cameras were not allowed, and I got reprimanded when I took this shot.

Phil Mickelson at the Fed Ex St. Jude Classic

Phil Mickelson at the Fed Ex St. Jude Classic

They didn’t kick me out or confiscate my phone, though, so it’s all good. The Golf Channel was there filming, being super-serious.

The Golf Channel Camera Man

The Golf Channel Camera Man

Unfortunately, I can’t recall who won the tournament, but I know it wasn’t Phil. It made for a relaxing, PVB-avoiding afternoon, though.

Then that night I was invited to the opening of The Crossroads of Memory: Carroll Cloar and the American South, a new art exhibit at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.

Faculty and Honor Roll Students, Lewis School by Carroll Cloar

Faculty and Honor Roll Students, Lewis School by Carroll Cloar

I’m a member of the Brooks, and this was a perk of membership. The wine was freely flowing, and there were tables practically overflowing with cheese, crackers, and fruit. The exhibit itself was beautifully curated and seemed to go on forever. Room after room was filled with his art depicting the rural American South of days gone by. It was all so gorgeous and detailed. I cannot even begin to imagine the amount of time it took him to create each piece.

After that, I capped my evening and first week back from vacation at Chiwawa, a new bar in Midtown Memphis’s Overton Square that serves Mexican influenced bar food and drinks. This is definitely not your typical Tex-Mex, pick-a-number-from-one-to-twenty-three type places. I wouldn’t exactly call it upscale, either, though. It’s more of a hip, modern place with a Mexican flare. I started off with a Strawberry Watermelon Sno Cone topped with vodka and some guacamole with chips. The “drink” was so refreshing! It appears as though there was a lot of ice, but it was plenty strong. The guacamole was chunky and flavorful, and the chips were house made. I followed that up with a brisket taco and a pulled pork taco (pastor style). Both had the most inventive and delicious house made toppings and were so good! I also had their version of Mexican street corn, which is slathered with mayo, cheese and other spices. I’m pretty sure they also soak it in milk or something because every kernel popped and exploded with juiciness with each bite. I would say it was the best corn I’ve ever had, and I’m not really a corn fan.

Chiwawa Memphis

Chiwawa Memphis

It was the perfect ending to a week of avoiding PVB!

How do you recover from PVB?

If you haven’t figured out by now, St. Jude is my favorite charity. I’m running in the St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon in December, and I’m trying to raise $500 for the kids of St. Jude. Please visit my fundraising page here, and I would love it if you can make a donation. Any amount helps.

Also, follow me on Twitter @myglasssneaker.

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