Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Music City Bowl 2009

We were really hoping for Tampa or Atlanta, but still we were glad to get to go the 4th straight bowl Kentucky was in (that's never happened before). I'd been able to get really good seats and Josh was going to go with us for the first time. Clemson worried me though. They missed by five points of going to the Orange Bowl.

I got up about 3:00am and was very dizzy. I went back to bed and felt a bit better. After church, I went home and rested. When Donna and the boys got back (from Parkview singing), I was up to the trip. The guys and I left.

The trip down was fine til we got close to the I-65 interchange and there was a huge traffic backup. Fortunately, I had brought the GPS I got Donna for Christmas. Josh was able to take us on an alternate route to our initial destination - Fat Mo's on Trinity Avenue. For those of you who don't know, Fat Mo's has several locations in Nashville. They serve one of the best burgers around. We got our food to go and headed for LP Field.

We got parked with little incident and set up to wait for the Cat Walk. The Cat Walk is where UK fans line up and shake hands and high five the UK Players and coaches as they exit the bus to enter the stadium. Josh was keeping up with the Jets Colts game he could see on a TV in the Titans store. I got to shake hands with Rich Brooks and see all the players. It was a neat experience.

We then headed for church. We walked to the Central church of Christ congregation in downtown Nashville. I'd never been there, but read about it on-line. We took the Shelby Pedistrian bridge. It's a nice bridge over the Cumberland River and we walked about a mile to get there. The brethren there was very nice and we had a great time singing praises to God (it was their monthly singing night). Josh snatched my Blackberry right after services to check the Jets score. Turned they'd won after Indy pulled its starters. We walked back to LP Field and were in plenty of time for the kickoff.

It was cold! The air temperature was in the upper 20's and with wind chill lower 20's Our seats were fabulous, 50 yard line, front row, right behind the UK bench. The stadium was not nearly full but was easily 80-90% UK fans. Kentucky held Clemson on the first drive and then drove down and scored a TD. Little did I know that would be the offensive highlight of the game for them. They held again and drove to the Clemson 29, but a loss and a sack forced a punt. Clemson scored on a 30 yard play action TD pass to tie things up. Kentucky drove down into field goal range and Lonas Seiber came through to make it 10-7. Clemson scored a TD before the half to make it 14-10.

Kentucky started the half with another field goal to make it 14-13. The teams traded field position for the rest of the half. Clemson missed a field goal into the wind. Kentucky had several decent drives stall after they crossed the 50. Finally, the game hinged on a key play late in the fourth. A Uk receiver fumbled a short pass around the UK 20 and Clemson drove it in in a few plays to make it 21-13. Kentucky then mounted a drive which stalled around the Clemson 45. They sent their punter Ryan Tyldacka on to punt. We couldn't believe they were doing this on a 4th and 3. Then, lo and behold he takes off on a fake and gets the first down. Poor guy got nailed though and he looked very woozy walking to the sidelines. I'd seen him practicing taking long snaps and taking off running, but I thought he was just trying to stay warm.

UK got to 4th and 8 and Morgan Newton took off on a scramble. He got about 7 and half yards. Clemson got the ball back and ran out the clock and UK's bowl winning streak was over. It was a good game, the wrong team won. We got out to the car and cranked the heater up. Josh said his feet were frozen. We got home about 1:45am. We had a lot of fun together even with the loss. I found out CJ Spiller got the MVP which I didn't really understand. He had an OK game, but these seemed more like a popularity award (since he's their most well known player). I'd have given the award to the Clemson defense.

What's up for next season? This question looms even larger now when I found out Coach Brooks said after the game he was "80% sure he was retiring". There will be a three QB battle between Newton, Mike Hartline (who did OK until getting hurt on a dead ball in South Carolina) and young redshirt QB named Ryan Mossakowski. They've got to find somebody who complete passes downfield. Clemson just kept playing up tight on defense and UK couldn't get around them. Most of the offensive line graduates and the defense loses standouts Trevard Lindley, Micah Johnson and Corey Peters. Top running back Derrick Locke should be back (he's having his draft status evaulated though). It's be an interesting season next year.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Marathon Man (and a half)

After last year's run in the St Jude's Marathon, Jonathan wanted to give it another go this year. I agreed finally to run the half marathon. We both spent the summer and fall training. I was as ready as I was ever going to be.

We left on Friday. We picked up our rental car and headed out. We got to Memphis with no problem even dodging the heavy traffic coming into town for the most part. Donna dumped us out at the Cook Convention Center to pick up our race packet. The packet contains your bib (race number to pin to your front) and a D-tag. What's a D-tag you might ask? It's a disposable piece of technology that tracks you through the trace as you pass over certain points. You loop it around the laces of your tennis shoe. It's pretty neat.

We went down to check in to our hotel. Donna and I stayed at the Residence Inn Downtown. I've stayed there several times (including last year's marathon) and always liked it. The man at the front not only unloaded our car but brought our bags to the room and valet parked our car. We felt like real VIPs. We put Jonathan in the Doubletree Hotel. It's right next to the finish. We walked to his room and checked him in.

We ended up going to one of our favorite places to eat (Chili's). I really wish we had one of these in Paducah. I made sure not to over stuff myself. We came back to our respective hotels and I spent most of the night simply resting and trying to hydrate myself for the race the next day. I went to bed early (9pm).

We got up about 6 the next day. It was cold (28) but clear. I went and grabbed some toast and a banana for breakfast. That's my usual long race day breakfast. I got my racing clothes on and we called Jonathan so he'd be ready. We went to the hotel to meet him. We walked down to the start of the race near the Fed-Ex Forum (home of the Memphis Grizzlies).

You get in corrals based on what you think your per mile time will be. Jonathan lined up in number 5 and I got in number 6. My goal was 2:10 and his was under 4 hours. It hit 8 o'clock and they started releasing each corral a few minutes apart. After a few minutes, I was off. They have pace teams holding up signs with marathon finishing times. I got behind the one with 3:55 on it. After a few miles, I actually got hot in my gloves and hat. Donna was waiting to cheer us on at mile 3, so I tossed my hat and gloves to her.

I kept the pace up really well for the first 9 miles or so. The only issue was with water and it isn't the one you'd think. The general practice is once a runner drinks the water in his cup, he drops it and any remaining contents on the pavement. It was so cold, the water started freezing and making large slippery patches. I took a gel packet at 9 miles (chocolate) and it gave me a bit of a boost. But still, my pace fell off the last few miles. It was a welcome relief to turn onto the final street leading to AutoZone park. AutoZone Park is home to the Memphis Redbirds (the St Louis Cardinals AAA team). I managed to kick a bit as I entered and ran along the warning track to the finish line. I had made it. Donna was there to greet me. They have food at the end and even being around 10, I had some pizza.

We went to Jonathan's room for me to rest. My sister Melissa called and said she had just missed Jonathan at mile 19 (very close to where her family lives). He was keeping a good pace, so we went back to wait for him. It was a thrill to see him come around at about 3:50! He ended up with a 3:51:06 which was over 10 minutes faster than last year for him. He was of course, exhausted and we had to walk him up to his room at the Doubletree. Fortunately, it as only a block away.

We spent the next hour yelling at the TV for the UK-North Carolina game. UK held on to beat them for the first time in 5 years. Donna got Jonathan food from the TGI Fridays downstairs and we went back to our room to rest. We went out later that night to Huey's and I got a big burger and fries to try and refuel. We also heard the sad news that a young lady died after running the half marathon. It was the first time that had ever happened at the St. Judes run.

Donna and I ended up going out later to my with my sister and her husband and my young nephew Brody. We had a lot of fun visiting with them but finally came back to the hotel to rest. Jonathan needed more food so we stopped at Taco Bell on the way and got him more food. I finally went to sleep about 9;30pm. We got up and checked out and went to worship at the Getwell church of Christ (they publish the Spiritual Sword). Everyone there was really friendly and we enjoyed it. We stopped in Blytheville on the way home and ate at Zaxby's. We got home without incident.

It was a really neat weekend. I found I beat my goal by quite a bit and I ran a 2:00:01. I wish I'd have known to kick a bit harder to get under 2:00. That'll be my goal for the next half. We're trying to line up our next race and already are making plans to run in Memphis next year.