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St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend 2013-The Race That Wasn’t

Memphis does not do winter weather well.  Any threat of winter weather usually turns into a non-event, but even the hint of some sort of frozen precipitation sends the entire city into a tailspin.  That happened this weekend, and the St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend was cancelled.

When December 7 first appeared on the 10 day forecast, it was supposed to be in the 40s at race time, warming up to the 50s throughout the day, perfect!  Every day after that, it looked worse and worse.  Even though it was in the 70s here on Wednesday, it was predicted to be a historical ice storm.  By Thursday, schools and events were being cancelled all over the city, yet it was still in the 50s.  The SJMMW event directors kept saying the race would go on as planned unless the course was deemed to be unsafe.  Friday came, the day of the epic ice storm.  Yes, it rained pretty much all day long.  Yes temps hovered around freezing.  Yes, ice accumulated in trees and bushes.  However, the roads remained clear.

Ice accumulations thwarted race plans.

Ice accumulations thwarted race plans.

I was in good spirits as I headed to the Heroes Pasta Party.

St. Jude Heroes Pasta Party

St. Jude Heroes Pasta Party

I was sad my parents had decided against making the trip for the weekend, but I was meeting friends there so all appeared well.  I had been so concerned that I would not make it downtown from the suburbs on race day that I had not even allowed myself to get excited for the weekend.  Arriving at the pasta party, realizing the roads were in good shape and I was going to make it after all, I finally got excited.  My friends and I made another trip through the expo, and I let myself look at the medal for the first time.

We went into the ball room, took our seats and got our food.  I then received a text from another friend that she was sorry the race had been cancelled.  Cancelled?!  No!  We are here!  At the event!  It’s not cancelled!  Then a text from another friend.  Cancelled!  Then a news bulletin came across my phone.  Cancelled!  Still no official word from the race directors and we were at the event!  How could they not tell us?  About 20 more minutes passed, and by then the whole room knew.  The ALSAC CEO took the stage and gave us the official news.  It was then that I got the text notification from St. Jude.  Reality started to set in.  My 2013 St. Jude Half Marathon was not going to happen.

The expo had been great!

SJMMW Expo

SJMMW Expo

I went on Thursday after work.  It wasn’t very crowded so packet pick up was a breeze!  There were lots of vendors, and more freebies than I’ve ever gotten at an expo.  There was an area to write a message on a wall to the kids of St. Jude.

My message to the kids of St. Jude

My message to the kids of St. Jude

The coolest thing was the official pace car provided by Landers Ford.

The names of all the Heroes were on the official St. Jude Pace Car.

The names of all the Heroes were on the official St. Jude Pace Car.

There was an overlay on it with all of the names of the Heroes.

My name was on the official St. Jude Pace Car.

My name was on the official St. Jude Pace Car.

They also had a photographer to take your picture by your name with your bib.  We stayed about an hour then headed to dinner at Spaghetti Warehouse.

Other than disappointing news, the Pasta Party was fabulous!

The St. Jude Heroes Pasta Party was truly a festive occasion.

The St. Jude Heroes Pasta Party was truly a festive occasion.

It was the largest plated dinner in the history of Memphis, we were told.  They were very prepared, too, with 11 buffet lines, and about a dozen drink coolers along the walls with soda, bottled water, and tea.  There were only 2 beer lines but they moved quickly.  After Rick Shadyac gave us the bad news, they continued on with the featured speaker.  Hillary Husband, a 6 year patient of St. Jude, told us her story.  She was diagnosed when she was 14 and is still being treated.  She recently walked an entire marathon in the halls of St. Jude because she did not want her disease to get in the way of her goals.  The staff even set up a finish line for her to cross.  Even more impressive is that her route was around the radiation unit.  She figured out that 11 times around was a mile.  Can you imagine the mind-numbing boredom that would come with that many laps?  And to do that more than 26 times?  She is an amazing young lady, to say the least.  I almost lost it when she said we are the ones who inspire her.

I left the party thinking that was the end of my SJMMW 2013 but I was wrong.  Later that night, one of my friends texted me and told me his friend, who was here from Texas and who was planning to run her first marathon here, wanted to take a St. Jude Hospital tour since she couldn’t do the marathon.  He asked if I could help make that happen.  I told him I would try.  So, I contacted one of my friends who works there, and he was able to do the tour.  So, Saturday afternoon, 4 of us headed to the hospital for the tour.  Three of us had taken the tour back in the fall (read about that here), but we still learned even more.  It truly is an amazing place!

Elvis Presley was a St. Jude donor.

Elvis Presley was a St. Jude donor.

This gingerbread house at St. Jude is about the size of a small bathroom.

This gingerbread house at St. Jude is about the size of a small bathroom.

I also learned that many people decided to run the route anyway, and the race personnel greeted finishers with their medals.  What a neat thing for them to do!  I wish I had thought of it.  I will run my tribute miles at some point in the future.  I’m just not sure when yet.

As a consolation, we are able to transfer our registration to Rock and Roll Phoenix, Rock and Roll New Orleans, or Rock and Roll Nashville.  Other options are a full refund or donating your entry fee to St. Jude.  At the moment, I’m leaning toward Nashville.  If I don’t do that, I will definitely let them keep the fee.

So, you may be wondering why it was cancelled if the streets were clear.  Again, Memphis does not handle these things well.  The finish line was a solid sheet of ice, sidewalks were unsafe, and there were trees down along part of the course, due to the weight of the ice.

The finish line was a solid sheet of ice.  This photo was taken by a volunteer and posted on the Memphis Runners Track Club Facebook page.

The finish line was a solid sheet of ice. This photo was taken by a volunteer and posted on the Memphis Runners Track Club Facebook page.

Several thousand people in Memphis were without power, and since temps were going to be below freezing for a few days, they were concerned more trees and power lines would fall, causing more people to be without power.  30% of the volunteers had already backed out, as had 15% of the medical staff.  Additionally, the City of Memphis told race officials resources such as police, fire, and medical support could not be dedicated to the race while the city was under a state of emergency and might be needed elsewhere.  It’s disappointing because it really did turn into a non-event, like it almost always does.  At the same time, there was so much uncertainty about conditions in the hours leading up to the start that a decision had to be made.  They made the best decision they could.

Race or no race, St. Jude Heroes raised $8.2 million for the kids of St. Jude.  The average donation is $33.  That’s a lot of people wanting to help support St. Jude’s lifelong mission of finding cures and saving lives.  God willing, I will participate as a hero again in 2014.

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Tap N Run 4k Memphis

Yesterday I did the Tap N Run 4k Memphis, which was a beer run. It sounded like a good idea at first. Beer before noon can’t be all that bad, right? Except for the event wasn’t in the morning. It was at 2 pm in the afternoon. It still didn’t sound too bad. After all, October afternoons are pretty nice. Yeah! Turns out it was almost 90 degrees with 80-something percent humidity, and what appeared to be an overcast day turned into full sun by 2 pm. It was HOT! It was still fun, though.

Tap N Run 4k Course Map

Tap N Run 4k Course Map

Basically, you drink your way through the race. You get a small beer to toast the start, about 6 ounces.

The Volunbeers are getting the cups of beer ready for the start.

The Volunbeers are getting the cups of beer ready for the start.

Then, you get another small beer at each of 2 water, uh, beer stops, called Beer Chugs.

Beer Chugs were in place of water stops.  Water was available, too, though.

Beer Chugs were in place of water stops. Water was available, too, though.

Then, after the finish, you get a full-sized can of beer. The beer was surprisingly refreshing on the hot day. The first beer at the start was Schlafly Ale. The first Beer Chug had an orange beer, which was delicious! It was so refreshing! I wish I knew what it was so I can buy it. I asked but the volunteers (called Volunbeers) didn’t know. The second Beer Chug had Pabst Blue Ribbon, and at the end, you got your choice of Miller Light or Coors Light.

The costumes were nuts!

So many fun costumes in the crowd!

So many fun costumes in the crowd!

I saw many groups dressed in all the Mario characters.

Funny!

Funny!

Monsters U was well represented, and I saw Thing One and Thing Two. Because it started and ended on Beale Street downtown, there were many tourists spectating. One tourist asked what was going on, and someone responded that it was just a typical afternoon in downtown Memphis. It was funny!

Everyone got a finisher’s medal, too, which doubles as a bottle opener. Always useful!

The medal doubles as a bottle opener!

The medal doubles as a bottle opener!

One of my favorite things about this run is that since it wasn’t timed, I took some pics that I wouldn’t normally take time to snap, like the finish line!

Fed Ex Forum, home of the Memphis Grizzlies NBA team

Fed Ex Forum, home of the Memphis Grizzlies NBA team

New Daisy Theater

New Daisy Theater

Old Daisy Theater

Old Daisy Theater

Finish Line

Finish Line

Have you ever done a beer run?

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Like my Facebook page http://facebook.com/myglasssneaker.

I’m a charity athlete raising money for St. Jude. To make a donation, click here.

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Memphis Brooks Museum Avant Garde Party

Last Sunday, I attended the Memphis Brooks Museum Avant Garde Party, an annual event for fellow level members and above.  I had really been looking forward to it, and it did not disappoint! 

When we arrived, there was a red carpet to welcome us, which was fun! 

Red Carpet for Brooks Museum Avant Garde Party

Red Carpet for Brooks Museum Avant Garde Party

We were greeted with our choice of wine or champagne before we ever even entered the museum. 

Welcome glass of wine or champagne

Welcome glass of wine or champagne

That’s my idea of a welcome!  There was live entertainment set up inside the museum as well as on the patio. 

Live Entertainment

Live Entertainment

They also had these neat little lounges arranged all over the place, indoors and out. 

Several lounges were set up all over the party.

Several lounges were set up all over the party.

The atmosphere was really artsy and fun!

The food was insane!  Servers were walking around carrying trays of things.  I had cold shrimp with a lemon vinaigrette, a sausage and rice ball with spicy mustard, and the single best thing of the night, which was crostini with tomato jam, smoked pork, and a verde sauce.  Yum!  Then there were several tables of food set up, too. 

Lots of food!

Lots of food!

Sandwiches, carving stations, potato bites, stuffed mushrooms, fried oysters, shrimp and grits, smoked chicken salad with roasted beets, and grilled veggie skewers were all there and more! 

Grilled veggie skewers

Grilled veggie skewers

Desserts included a watermelon and feta salad, custard bars, and some sort of yogurt soup with blueberries.  It was all so very good!

Drinks were freely flowing as well.  One of the stars was a station serving mint julep snow cones. 

Mint Julep Snow Cones

Mint Julep Snow Cones

These would be so perfect on a hot summer day.  There was also a bourbon bar with about 7 different kinds of bourbon set up. 

Bourbon Bar

Bourbon Bar

I tried a honey bourbon and a blackberry bourbon.  I was so surprised at how different bourbons can be.  I didn’t think I liked it other than in a mint julep (shocker since I went to college in Kentucky) but now I think I’m a bourbon convert.  They had the main bars set up on the patio serving wine, beer, martinis and a couple of specialty cocktails they made for the event.  The one I tried was called a Lazy Sunday Afternoon and featured basil vodka.

They also had corn hole set up on the patio, which we didn’t get a chance to play.  They had a ring toss game set up inside that we did play. 

Ring Toss

Ring Toss

We were given three rings each, and if we were able to toss one of our three rings onto a bottle, we got a Carroll Cloar poster (the summer exhibit at the museum).  I was lucky and won a poster!

This was also the last opportunity to tour the Carroll Cloar exhibit so I had to take one last peek at it.

Carroll Cloar Exhibit

Carroll Cloar Exhibit

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I am a charity athlete raising money for St. Jude.  To make a donation, click here.

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Remembering 9/11

It’s hard to imagine that it’s already been 12 years since that terrible day.  I still remember where I was, what I was doing and even what I was wearing.  I walked into work, about 5 minutes late.  My boss called me over to his desk.  Thinking I was about to get reprimanded for being late, I tentatively walked over there.  He pointed to the radio we always kept on in the office.  He asked if I had heard.  I had not.  I listened.  A few moments later, we heard the second tower had been hit.  A little later, we heard about the Pentagon and Pennsylvania.  I knew we were under attack, but who?  Why?  We didn’t have access to a TV, only the radio.  All I wanted to do was get to a TV to soak in everything I could learn.  That was the longest working day of my life.

Earlier this week, my friend Jennie, who moved to Ohio last year shared that every year on 9/11 she would take cookies or other treats to the fire station in downtown Memphis as a thank you.  Since she is not here to do that this year, she asked that her friends remember their local fire fighters and police officers and take something to thank them for their service.  I work right across the street from a fire station here in Memphis, so I decided I would do just that.  I got a card, and had everyone in the office sign it, and I baked chocolate chip cookies for them. 

Fresh baked cookies for fire fighters

Fresh baked cookies for fire fighters

I put the cookies on a patriotic plate to deliver to the fire fighters.

I put the cookies on a patriotic plate to deliver to the fire fighters.

A coworker and I delivered them and they were so appreciative! 

A coworker and I delivered the cookies.

A coworker and I delivered the cookies.

Those guys were soooooo much fun, too!  They were cracking jokes, and were just full of energy.

The lawn to the fire station was decorated, too.  They had the FDNY letters on the lawn in stars and stripes. 

The FDNY letters covered the lawn of the fire station right across the street from where I work.

The FDNY letters covered the lawn of the fire station right across the street from where I work.

The flag was flying at half-staff. 

The flag flying at half-staff on 9/11

The flag flying at half-staff on 9/11

They had flags in the ground representing the fire fighters and police officers who lost their lives in the tragedy.  They also had a poster with all of their photos.

Poster remembering the fire fighters and police officers who lost their lives on 9/11/01

Poster remembering the fire fighters and police officers who lost their lives on 9/11/01

I’m so glad I did this!  I was hoping to make their day but they ended up making mine!  Thanks for the great idea, Jennie!

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I am raising money for the kids of St. Jude as a charity athlete.  To donate, click here.

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St. Jude Hospital Tour

This past Saturday I got the opportunity to tour St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, right here in Memphis, TN. As most of you know, I love St. Jude, they are my favorite charity, and I do all I can to support them. As you can imagine, I was super excited to get to see the hospital first-hand and learn more about the wonderful things they are doing there.

At the entrance to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital stands a statue of St. Jude, the patron saint of hopeless causes.

At the entrance to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital stands a statue of St. Jude, the patron saint of hopeless causes.

First of all, I learned that St. Jude is the patron saint of hopeless causes. Danny Thomas, the founder of St. Jude Hospital, was a devout Catholic. As a struggling actor, he once gave his last $7 to the Catholic church and later prayed to St. Jude to help him find his way. His prayer included a promise that he would build a St. Jude shrine. After becoming a successful actor, he kept his word, and the hospital was the shrine he built. One of my friends asked, why Memphis? Well, it was important to Danny Thomas that the hospital not discriminate for any reason. This is even more important because the time period in which the hospital was founded was at the height of the civil rights movement, and sensitivities were very high. Not only was Memphis centrally located, being on the Mississippi River, having a major airport and train station, but he wanted to make a civil rights statement as well.

A bust of Danny Thomas, the founder of St. Jude, is on display in the hospital.  His nose is brighter than the rest because visitors often rub it for luck.

A bust of Danny Thomas, the founder of St. Jude, is on display in the hospital. His nose is brighter than the rest because visitors often rub it for luck.

I knew that no family is ever asked to pay for anything at St. Jude, but I didn’t know the measures the hospital takes to make sure the family has zero financial burden, even after treatment. See, cancer treatment can cause other health issues, such as hearing, vision, and even dental problems. St. Jude employs all kinds of doctors and nurses so that the family doesn’t have to go outside the hospital for these other issues. They also make many of their own medicines and have pharmacy licenses in 48 states. Once the child is done with treatment at the hospital and is back home, St. Jude can send their medicines to them, also free of charge. They’ve even covered the toll an illness like this can take on the family, a marriage, and the child’s siblings. They have social workers to provide counseling.

Every part of the hospital is designed with children in mind, and not just young children. Counters, desks, and even some ceilings are lowered so the child doesn’t feel so small. Waiting rooms are more like dream play rooms. They have arcades for teenagers and even a lounge area just for teens and their siblings, no parents allowed. They even have a high school prom every year for the teens that had to miss theirs due to their illness.

Mirror, Mirror is a poem written by a patient and is on display in the patient art gallery.

Mirror, Mirror is a poem written by a patient and is on display in the patient art gallery.

I also learned that there are 8 executive chefs in the city of Memphis, and 4 of them work at St. Jude. That means that as a patient and employee of St. Jude, you are going to eat very well. No icky hospital dinners here! Another interesting note about the cafeteria is that Danny Thomas wanted the doctors, nurses, patients and families to all dine together. He didn’t want a separate eating area for the doctors. He wanted the doctors and nurses to be as close to the patients as possible because he felt it would make them better at their jobs.

There is also a pavilion on the campus that is more like a museum of the history of St. Jude and Danny’s life. Here, you’ll find awards such as Emmys and even Danny’s Hollywood Star. They also hold special events here such as the prom I spoke of earlier.

These Emmys belonging to Danny Thomas are on display in the St. Jude Pavilion.

These Emmys belonging to Danny Thomas are on display in the St. Jude Pavilion.

Danny Thomas's Hollywood Star

Danny Thomas’s Hollywood Star

There are so many things I learned about St. Jude, I could go on and on. I will leave you with this, though. Once a child is finished with chemo, he or she gets a very special No Mo’ Chemo party. Nurses and volunteers sing a song to the tune of the old Oscar Meyer bologna jingle. Here are the lyrics.

Our patients have the cutest S-M-I-L-Es.

Our patients have the sweetest H-E-A-R-Ts.

Oh we love to see you every day

But now’s the time we get to say

Pack up your bags, get out the door.

You don’t need chemo anymore.

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I am raising money as a charity athlete for St. Jude. To donate, click here.

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Elvis Presley 5k Race Recap and a PR

Graceland, here in Memphis, is like Mecca for Elvis fans.

Graceland

Graceland

Every August, thousands upon thousands of Elvis fanatics from all over the world converge upon Memphis to pay homage to the King of Rock and Roll.

Banners outside of Graceland

Banners outside of Graceland

The week-long celebration culminates with a 5k that starts and finishes at the Graceland entrance. This is one of Memphis’s biggest 5ks and is one of the few, if not the only 5k where dressing in costume is acceptable. There is even a contest for the best Elvis male and female. It’s great for people-watching.

Elvis Presley 5k run/walk

Elvis Presley 5k run/walk

Interestingly, if you ask Memphis locals, most of us have never been to Graceland. Those that I know who have been, went with out-of-town guests they were entertaining. So, this area of town is very touristy and going there almost felt like I was on a vacation, with all the kitschy souvenir shops and Elvis-themed hotels and restaurants.

Elvis shops line the street in front of Graceland.

Elvis shops line the street in front of Graceland.

Souvenir shops are filled with everything Elvis.

Something else funny is that I ran this race last year and didn’t even notice I was in front of Graceland. Talk about tunnel vision!

Last year I loved seeing all the Elvis costumes and sunglasses so much that I decided to join in the fun this year. I had a pink Sparkle Skirt that I sewed a poodle onto to make a poodle skirt. I added a black initial to a white tech top, tied a pink-with-white-polka-dots bandana in my hair, and I was all set.

Flat me, ready for the 5k

Flat me, ready for the 5k

I got lots of compliments on my outfit, even though it was more 50s inspired than Elvis inspired.

The course itself is a really great course. It’s mostly flat with a few hills scattered in. Most of the course is actually through the residential areas around Graceland so it’s fairly well shaded. Several of the home owners had their water hoses out to spray down the runners, keeping us cool. Even though it was a nice day this year with temps in the low 70s and overcast, it still felt great to get sprayed down every now and then. One highlight was seeing the Navy captains run in formation for the entire race.

Navy Captains lining up for the start.

Navy Captains lining up for the start.

They did this last year, too, and it’s so fun to watch. Of course, running next to Navy men is never a bad thing!

The after party was so much fun, too. Post-race food was Krispy Kreme donuts, bananas, bags of white cheddar pop corn, pasta with meat sauce and alfredo sauce, smoothies, bagels, water, and freely flowing beer.

Post-Race Pasta

Post-Race Pasta

Gotta love a truck with a tap right on the side!

At the awards ceremony, they gave $100 each to the best male and female Elvis tribute runner. The female winner ran the entire race in gold leggings. I can’t imagine how hot and sticky that was! The male winner ran in white patent leather shoes. Talk about blisters and sore feet! He didn’t seem to mind, though.

The Female Elvis Costume winner went to the one of the right in the gold leggings.

Those are white patent leather shoes the Male Elvis Costume winner wore.

Those are white patent leather shoes the Male Elvis Costume winner wore.

The only negative was that a few days before the race, they sent an email saying the first 800 finishers would receive a medal. I think if any race gives out finishers medals, they should be for all finishers, not just the top 800. With over 1100 finishers, that leaves a lot of people out. The race director put on Facebook that the reason was due to expenses and they wanted as much money as possible to go to the charity, Livitup. I can appreciate wanting to maximize the charitable donation. At the same time, if you can’t afford medals for all, don’t offer them period. Medals were not mentioned on the event website and were not advertised at all so they would not have been expected had that email not been sent. It’s really not that big of a deal, but it did put a damper on a really fun event.

I was really happy with my race performance.

Post-Race Pic--all I need is a milkshake with a cherry on top.

Post-Race Pic–all I need is a milkshake with a cherry on top.

I got a PR, which I’ve managed to do at every 5k I’ve run this year except for one. I really hope this trend continues for my half marathons this fall.

Do you have a favorite local race?

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I’m a charity athlete raising money for St. Jude. To make a donation, visit my personal 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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