2011, here we come

i’ve never been all that big on New Years resolutions. for me, a new years resolution has always felt really vague. to me it seems that a new years resolution is just something people set and end up feeling let down when they mess up. i have, however, always been big on making plans and setting goals. a goal is more specific but also a little more flexible, in my opinion. i like to set goals that are difficult and that i actually have to WORK for. if i meet all my goals, great. if i don’t, i probably benefitted in some way while trying.

there’s no better time than now to set some specific fitness goals for 2011. most of us spend the month of december talking about how we need to exercise more and eat less. well, that’s a little too predictable for me. it’s just not specific enough. what about, “i need to eat at least 3 fruits each day.” that’s better and going to be easier to follow and easier to measure your progress.

i haven’t put much thought into this yet but here’s what i’m thinking some of my “goals” (fitness and otherwise) for 2011 are:

* read 1 book per month that is NOT fitness related. (sports-related biography’s are ok but sometimes i may just need some good smut and give my brain a rest from “homework”!)
* eat at least 3 fruits per day….even on the weekends (uh oh! i’m great during the week but my weekends are usually reserved for pizza and beer)
* try a new recipe every other week (at least this often; just afraid every week is too much to ask of myself and keith)
* blog at least 2 times per week
* bring yoga back into my life- at home or in the studio; no less than 1 time per week
* run a half marathon and PR (speed work, here i come)
* run a full marathon and improve my time; maybe san antonio again?? (yes, i said it. i know i said i would never do another one but i’m too stubborn to not at least try and see if i can improve!)

ok, that’s all i have thought of so far. what about you? new years resolutions? goals for 2011? i would love to know what the rest of you are thinking! (oh, and i think georgia’s goal for 2011 is for me to stop dressing her up. sorry baby g, i think you’re the perfect little model 🙂 )

Georgia Love update

believe it or not, we’re on our 20th week of confinement! just when we’re finally getting used to it, we get word today that georgia is doing great and we can come off of most of her restrictions. yay!

as you can see from the picture above, she has finally gotten used to her pen. the funny thing about this picture is that the door is actually open but she now prefers to stay in there sometimes. for this shot, though, she was pretending to be in jail.

anyway, for those who aren’t up to date on the georgia saga- she had her second emergency surgery 7 weeks after her first. she then developed a staph infection in her second surgery leg. we nursed this for several weeks and took her in for an incision check 2 days before thanksgiving. on this visit, they decided to do some rushed x-rays and ended up hurting her a bit. she spent the next 7 days on 3 legs and we spent the next 7 days in utter shock. this, unfortunately, set her back about 2 weeks but we were just relieved when she started to get better. fast forward a few more weeks to today and she has finally started having more good days than bad.

her surgeon watched her walk today and did a physical exam and feels certain she is out of the woods. he said she can return to being a normal dog aside from doing stairs and some strenuous playing. little does he know she’s never really been a normal dog 🙂

we’re so happy with the good report. it’s been a long 20 weeks for all of us. we will give her a little more time with her pen and keep the mattress on the floor for a couple of months while she works to get her strength back. fortunately, she’s feeling good. she’ll just need to work to re-build all her muscles but i think she’s up for it.

thanks again for all your concern. she’s our baby and we just can’t imagine everyone not loving her like we do (although we do know we are sometimes a little nuts!).

If you can’t say anything nice…

then don’t say anything at all! that’s what my mom always said. i’m thinking some peoples moms never told them this.

i’ve run into several people recently who have mentioned how annoyed they are with the traffic during the St. Jude Marathon. really?! there are 8,760 hours in the year and for about 5 hours memphis PARTIALLY shuts down a couple of streets. oh my, what will i do? i have been annoyed by the lack of city support for this race for years. did you know that 70% of the runners come from out of town? if you’ve never done another race, you may think this one is highly supported. unfortunately, it’s not. i get frustrated because it could be so much better.

i was reading a fellow memphis runner’s blog the other day. he wrote about his first new york marathon back in november. many of his blog was about the pain he felt for 26 miles but much of it was also about the spectators. yes, it’s new york but why can’t we be new york. he says, of the crowds, “They were loud, cheerful, and not at all upset their road was closed.” that one sentence alone made me tear up.

several years ago when i ran Nashville, keith and i heard a statistic that the race brought in 30 million dollars to their city for the weekend. you would think with statistics like this, memphis would get behind the race a little more- start announcing it weeks, if not months, in advance, post the course, suggest that people get out there and offer support….anything other than act annoyed.

i’m always amazed at how angry people get that they can’t drive down north parkway. really people, venture out and take jackson. i was having this conversation with a client who was mentioning how sad she thought the support for the full marathoners was. i completely agree. we were having this conversation and a fellow fitness professional overheard and said, “i really don’t get what the big deal is. what is someone standing on the street cheering really going to do for that person? i just don’t get it and i think it’s annoying that we can’t get anywhere in the city just because you people decided to do a race.” she then went on and on about how running seems so stupid. really?!?!?!?

i found myself completely flustered and extremely defensive. defensive for myself but also for all my fellow runners. one, you’re saying this to someone who’s passion is running and business is running. not nice! two, you’re a fellow fitness professional. shouldn’t you be happy people are trying to be healthy. three, you have never been a runner so you don’t understand it. challenge yourself to a race and see what it feels like to have support versus not have support. four, did your mom ever tell you if you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all?! apparently not.


if you haven’t already heard, i was a bit annoyed about the ending of the St. Jude Marathon. for many years my friends and family have met in the same section of seats, directly above 3rd base. well, not this year. without going into a lot of details, i was told i had to choose between going to the bathroom and waiting on my group, seeing my family and waiting in the seats, getting my bag and staying where i could see the finish….you get my point.

of course, i read everything there was to read about the race. apparently what i neglected to read was the small print on the map of the Redbirds Stadium. i didn’t realize i needed a map of the stadium since all (said with sarcasm) race details were written out and since i don’t need a map of third base- it’s pretty darn obvious where 3rd base is.

anyway, i felt the need to send a letter to Dwight Drinkard and Wain Rubenstein stating my concerns. below is our correspondence: (start at the top and move down)

From: star ritchey [mailto:stars1473@hotmail.com] 
Sent: Wednesday, December 08, 2010 11:58 AM
To: wrubenstei@aol.com; St Jude Memphis Marathon and Half Marathon; Dwight Drinkard
Subject: St. Jude Half and Full Marathon

Mr. Rubenstein and Mr. Drinkard,

First, let me acknowledge how much I enjoy the St. Jude Full and Half Marathon.  This is a race I have either run or spectated for many years and I have noticed the growth each year.  I have had to sit out a few times due to injuries, but I’ve never missed the chance to get out there and cheer people on.  I know how important it is, as a runner, to have those people you love (and even those that you don’t know) along the course and at the finish line cheering you on.  Sometimes that little “you’re looking good” is all you need to get you to that next mile marker.

I am a certified personal trainer and running coach.  Running is a true passion of mine and I enjoy helping others become better runners, or just runners in general.  One of the races we always do is the St. Jude Marathon (and Half).  It is such a cool race- the running alongside the Mississippi River, up Beale Street, through the campus of St. Jude, into Overton Park, by LeBonheur and in front of Sun Studios- what more could you ask for in 13.1 miles.

I remember my first St. Jude Half Marathon about 7 years ago.  Running into the Redbirds Stadium along the bases made me feel like a true athlete.  How fun to have all of my family and friends in the stands waiting on my finish!  There’s nothing you want more when you finish a race than to hug your family and friends.  This is why this year was such an incredible let down for my entire running group.  In all years past, we have met in the seats of Section 110 (for the past 7 years, to be exact).  Therefore, we made this our plan for this year as well.  We had family and friends with big plans to be in the seats awaiting our run into the stadium.  Unfortunately, though, this year the spectators and runners were kept separated.

It was sad to see the deflation in my runners excitement when they came up into the seats to find out that their family was not allowed to be there.  When we tried to go out of the seats to find family, the security staff informed us that we would not be able to return to the seats.  This caused a real dilemma considering 52 of us had trained together for 5 months and wanted to be there for each other as we finished, but also wanted the opportunity to show thanks to our family and friends who showed up to support us.  We truly hated that this huge change was implemented but there had been no mention ahead of time.  For 7 years, we’ve met in the same spot and this year, without notice, that was no longer an option.  Unfortunately, this caused a little more confusion and sadness than I’m sure you intended.

We, the runners, would like to be able to go to the restroom and return to a seat to wait on friends to finish but we were informed we could not do this.  We would love the opportunity to celebrate with our family and friends; those who ran and those who are not able to.  We would like to leave the stadium without having to go through the food lines.   In years past, it has always been that we were rushed off of the field but this year we were rushed out of the stadium seats.  For most runners, the race doesn’t end at the finish line.  It ends with the celebration that comes later.

Please, in planning next years event, take into consideration these small suggestions.  I am certain that I will be training another large group for both distances next year and truly hope that their finish experience is better than the one my runners had this year.

Star Ritchey
Star Runners, owner and Running Coach

From: Dwight.Drinkard@stjude.org
To: stars1473@hotmail.com
CC: wrubenstei@aol.com; robhunter33@comcast.net; jbookas@aol.com
Date: Wed, 8 Dec 2010 15:48:44 -0600
Subject: RE: St. Jude Half and Full Marathon
Star –

First, I want to thank you for your loyal participation as a runner and as a spectator over several years.  You’ve witnessed first hand the growth of this event from one race with 860 participants in 2000 to 16,000+ participants this year in 4 races.  Such growth, for a one day-a-year event, always comes with changes, problems and challenges.  And, that’s why we welcome and sincerely appreciate post-race feedback from our runners so we can address problems large and small.

Let me explain why the changes were made this year.  Surveys the past several years from participants identified our biggest problem to be the congestion on the Concourses of the ballpark . ..  the “hallways” leading from the steps to the Food & Beverage areas.  After finishing their races and climbing the steps (cruel, but the only way out), runners had to fight through the heavy crowd of spectators to get to the soup, etc.  At certain times in them morning, around 10:15am – 11am, the passageway was nearly impossible to navigate on the 3rd base (i.e, half marathon) side.  Because the runners are our customer and #1 priority, we were determined to solve this big problem for them, even at the expense of spectator convenience.

The plan we implemented solved several problems, but also caused a number of unexpected issues like those you mention, traffic flow in the Food/Beverage area, access to bathrooms and Bag Check, etc..  We will be analyzing all of those in the coming months in hopes that we can still alleviate the horrible congestion and reduce/solve our new issues.  That may be a tough assignment.

While all our changes had positive objectives in mind, I claim guilty to your statement that there was no mention of the changes in advance.  You’ll note that the attached map of AutoZone Park in the Race Guide you were emailed in advance and obtained at Packet Pickup does show the 3rd base concourse area in question as “Runners Only – No Spectators”.  However, we did not make any kind of pre-race announcement of this new feature, and that was unfortunate and my fault. I apologize to you and your group.

Completing each race at the ballpark provides the runners a very unique experience.  Finishing at AutoZone Park has become part of the signature of our event.  However, the stadium does have its restrictions and gives us many challenges with crowd control, traffic flow, etc. that big races which finish in large and open parking lots do not have to face.  While I do not know that we will be able to follow all your suggestions and meet all your needs, they will indeed be given due consideration over the coming months.

Again, we appreciate your detailed input and suggestions, and look forward to having you and your running group back at our Start on 12/3/11.


From: star ritchey [mailto:stars1473@hotmail.com] 
Sent: Wednesday, December 08, 2010 4:38 PM
To: Dwight Drinkard
Cc: wain rubenstein; robhunter33@comcast.net; jbookas@aol.com
Subject: RE: St. Jude Half and Full Marathon


Thanks so much for your timely response.  I will pass this on to my running group.  I will certainly take responsibility for not noticing the wording on the map.  I found myself reading all of the details backwards and forwards in attempts to help my group in preparing for the race, but neglected to read the map for any changes.  This may have been a big enough change to warrant a note.  I can only imagine what a task this is to organize and I’m sure you will never please everyone but thought I might throw out some issues we saw as major problems that could possibly deter some runners from coming back.

I truly appreciate your taking time to listen to my suggestions and respond to my email.  Star Runners has grown 200% in the past year so, with any luck that i see continued growth, I’ll have even more runners with me for next years race.  Good luck with your future planning!


From: Dwight.Drinkard@stjude.org
To: stars1473@hotmail.com
CC: wrubenstei@aol.com; robhunter33@comcast.net; jbookas@aol.com; Steele.Ford@stjude.org
Date: Thu, 9 Dec 2010 08:06:47 -0600
Subject: RE: St. Jude Half and Full Marathon

Star . . . many thanks for your follow-up note . . . as well as you participation and support of our event.


Mission Accomplished (or not?)

you did it! i’m dying to know how everyone is feeling. you may be feeling elated or you may be feeling a little bummed. sometimes you may go through a little funk after your race you’ve been training so hard for. that’s perfectly normal. it’s kind of like a wedding. there’s all the build up and then, poof, it’s over in a few hours.

the great thing about the race though, is that there is always another one just around the corner, unlike weddings (hopefully!). i’ve heard some people talking about not being as excited for the next one since they’ve just done one. i was kind of that way when i was getting ready for my second one- the attitude of “been there, done that.” sadly, the race got the best of me but it also taught my not to be quite so cavalier about the next one. it was a great lesson to be learned. now i truly respect the distance. i have never forgotten what it felt like to run my first mile, much less my first half and now, full! it’s all equally important, no matter how many times you do it.

running a half marathon is not a “one and done” kind of thing. no 2 races are alike. at all!! trust me on this. i’ve done plenty of races and there hasn’t been anything similar about any of them, even when they’ve been the same race. i love that they’re unpredictable and there is always room for growth. i have had all kinds of growth over the years- further distance (my first full this year), faster times, most fun, least amount of pain, etc- you just can’t take it as the race itself and be done with it. there’s so much more to it than that.

you never know what your race days will bring you. will it be rainy (nashville ’08)? will it clear up and be the utmost perfect weather for a race (nashville ’08)? (i think it was ’08, maybe ’07?!) will it be hot and humid (nashville ’10)? will it be 28 and sunny (st. jude ’09) or 58 and cloudy (st. jude ’10)? will your knee give out (nashville ’08) or will it be dehydration (nashville ’10)? you’ll also find that what makes that particular race your favorite race is different too.

my first half marathon will always be special to me because it was my first. my second half marathon will always be special because it was keith’s first. my first nashville will always be special because it was my first that i trained for and ran all alone….you get my drift. you have to find something in each one to make it special. they’re all different and they’re all worth it.

i’m always sad when i talk to people who tell me a half marathon was on their bucket list and they’re done. “why only one?,” i can’t help but think. if you are physically capable of doing it, then, by all means, get out there and go for it! aren’t you just dying to know what you can do next time? don’t you wonder what you left out there on that course that you might get back during the next one? i know i do!

have i convinced you to give it another shot……or maybe even go for a full?!

Get your MOTIVATION here!

one of the coolest birthday gifts i’ve ever gotten was an autographed picture of Rick and Dick Hoyt (above). no, they’re not celebrities. well, actually, yes, they are celebrities but they’re not robert plant or g love. they weren’t made famous because they’re incredible musicians or super hot (haha!) but because they are amazing people and incredible fighters.
i remembered this picture at about mile 23 of my race and they carried me my next mile (with tears in my eyes).
i’m not going to spill the beans. i just want you to watch the video. if you’ve never seen it, it’s a must watch. if you’ve seen it, watch it again. it’s worth the few minutes out of your life.it gets me every time. go here to watch the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPSUrR3ipQc ; it’s 6 minutes and well worth your time. you may want to grab a tissue 😉
Team Hoyt’s message is “yes you can.” i believe in all of you. now it’s time to start believing in yourselves.
Yes You Can!!