Saturday morning I finally decided to wear my running pants, they are very comfortable and have big pockets that come in very handy when running in the cold. The pockets are great but not very flattering!!
I also had on my black tank with the pockets in the back and pretty much all my pockets were packed! I had a small baggie of pretzels, 1/2 a pbj sandwich, a small baggie with 5 honey stingers and 5 gels. I also had a ton of kleenex.
I wore my I run like a girl bondi band and my cheetah ear warmer around my neck. Jane also gave me a bandana to wear for the first few miles.
We had arranged the night before to meet in the lobby at 6:50am. There sure was a lot of complaining about the time but by the time everyone came down and we gathered for pictures and hugs it was probably 7:15 before we left if not later. We thought we might take the Trolley to the start but they were jam packed with runners so we decided to just walk... I think it was about a mile and luckily it was through downtown so all the buildings helped block some of the wind. Everyone was bundled up, I had on a throw away sweat shirt and my foil blanket from the Soaring Wings 1/2 marathon, Brenda had on her tradtional trash bag... I am sure we were all a pretty funny sight!
Jane had given me some hand warmers to stick in my gloves and wow those things are awesome!!! I am going to have to stock up.
We kind of got split up at the Bag check.. but Michele, Jane, Kelly, Gary and I all managed somehow to stay together. Next stop was the port - o - potty line... Don't let me choose which line to get into.. ever! I picked a line that unfortunately only had 2 port o potty's and it took a long time. Fortunately Michele Gary and I were all huddled up and kept each other warm. I moved one of my hand warmers to the little pocket in the back of my running pants and that really helped keep us warm! Gary decided to go behind the port o potty instead of in and I tried to encourage all the men in our line to do the same thing!
Finally it was my turn and I took my time and let everything have a chance to exit my body!! I knew the people outside were probably getting antsy and I was a little embasrassed to be in there for so long BUT I am very glad I just let things flow naturally!!
Finally I'm done we meet back up with Jane and Kelly give big hugs to Gary and head to our Corral. I think we ended up in Corral 10 or 11... kind of at the end of the 4:30 pace group. I found us an empty spot and we huddled up. There was a lady standing there all by herself shivering away so of course we surrounded her and gathered her into our warm little group. We did ask if she minded before we invaded her personal space, I just couldnt' let her stand there all by herself! Her name was Terri and this was going to be her first marathon so she was kind of nervous. We gave her a little advice.. I told her just not to go out too fast in the beginning which we all know I rarely follow my own advice!!
I was sad to part with her when we started running but she was following my advice and running her own pace.
It was awesome to start the race with my partners and friends but once we got settled in I decided to follow my own advice and tried to keep a comfortable pace. My plan was to try to maintain a 10:45 avg. pace for at least the first 20 and then either try to maintain that pace or even speed up a little the last six. Of course nothing goes as planned on Marathon day!! We did stay together for the first couple of miles or at least I kept them in sight for the first few... at one point I saw Michele turn around and look for me I gave her a smile and a wave, she smiled back and went on to run her own race. This had been our plan all along, we would start together but after that we were on our own.
Beale Street is always a highlight of the race this is where the biggest fan support is. You have to run up a steep incline to get there so your heart is really pumping and then you hear all the screaming and the music and it is just really cool! Arland had sent me a text before the race started that the support crew would be somewhere between 3.5 and 4 miles so I was keeping my eyes peeled for them.
My hip flexor/inner thigh area really started hurting before I even made it to 4 miles.. I was very upset but i'm used to pain in those areas so I knew I could run through it.. I also thought maybe it would go away after I warmed up but no it stayed with me for the whole race.
I saw Arland and the gang... Bob, Phil, Cindy, Ken and James just before the 4 mile mark and I was so excited I started yelling at them and I ran by and got some high fives :) The best part was Arland's face when he saw me :)
After the excitment of Beale street and seeing the gang things quieted down I was feeling really good other than the pain in my hip flexor/thigh. I decided now would be a good time to turn on the i-pod and the music really did help.
I had brought along an 8oz bottle of water to carry for the first couple of miles so that I could skip the aid stations. Normally I cannot stand to have anything in my hands but the water bottle really came in handy and I was able to pass every aid station until about mile 15. I started my fist Acel-gel at mile 4.5 and it took about a mile to finish it. I also had maybe 2 pretzels. I lost my pbj sandwich sometime in the first couple of miles, I knew I felt like something had fallen out of one of my pockets but I didnt' realize what it was until later on.
I caught up with Kelly around mile 5 .. well she was just ahead of me and she turned around to check on me. She asked if I was eating and drinking. We would kind of leap frog each other most of the race until about mile 17 or 18.
I took a couple of ibuprofren sometime after my first gel the pain wasn't getting any better but it also wasn't getting any worse it had kind of settled into a dull ache.
I had on a 4:45 pace band that I had gotten in Nashville and around the 10K point I checked it and was really excited to see that I was way ahead of pace.
It was fun to run past the aid stations and not need to stop even better was running past the port o potties and not needing to stop!! The last couple of Marathon's I have had to stop within the first 2 miles but I am so happy to say that I did not have to stop at at port a potty the whole race for the first time ever!!
Just before the 1/2 turn off I felt somebody in my personal space and I turned to see Bailey ... what.. how in the world was she behind me??? Silly girl in Typical Bailey style she had started farther back and was lolly gagging for the first 1/2 of the marathon but you know what even with the lolly gagging she still finished in 4:33 and was hopping the orange cones around mile 24. It was a big boost to see her, especially at this point in the race. I knew the 1/2 marathon split was going to be a challenge for me mentally because the past two years when we would turn off for the 1/2 marathon finish I would think THANK HEAVENS I AM NOT RUNNING THE FULL!! I did have a few moments where I was wishing I could turn too especially thinking of all the people I knew who were running the 1/2 and were either already done or would be soon. BUT I did not let myself dwell on it and instead of thinking geez I still have over 2 hours left of running I thought wow I love running and how lucky am I that I get to keep doing what i love for a few more hours. This frame of mind worked until about mile 21! LOL
When I crossed over the1/2 way mat I had not had to stop once.. no bathroom breaks, no aid station breaks no walking breaks for any reason.. I had been running the whole time and I was thrilled, I think before this race the longest I had run without taking a walk break was 10 miles. Now not only did I have a time goal which i was ahead of by about 3 minutes at the 1/2 but I had a new goal to see how far I could run without taking a walk break.
I can't remember exactly what mile we were at but at one point Kelly and I had met up again and when she asked how I was doing I told her about the hip pain and she asked if I wanted some tylenol.. I had already taken some ibuprofen but I was still hurting so I decided to take it... she also asked me about my pb&J sandwich and i told her I had lost it so she offered to give me one of hers.
The miles were becoming a blur.. the hills and inclines were really starting to wear me down but I was determined not to walk. My water bottle was starting to get a low so I started taking water from the aid stations... The first time the water went up my nose but I did manage to swallow a little bit of it... the second time I got it all over my shirt but once again did manage to drink a little bit. Finally by the third time I was able to get a good drink without any mishaps. I still had my bottle ... it had become my security blanket and I didn't want to get rid of it but by about mile 17 it was empty and I finally threw it away.
I took my second gu around mile 11 this one was a Roctane orange vanilla gu and it was GROSS!!! I could only stomach about 1/4 of it and threw the rest away... unfortunaely while trying to fish it out of my pocket I had lost one of my accel-gel's.
Mile 14 they were giving out gu's...one girl tried to give me one but it was espresso so I said no thanks.. next up a guy said he had strawberry so I took it.. I didn't really need it yet so I was just going to put it in my pocket for later/backup. I shoved it in my pocket and felt something sticky... yep they had opened it which was really nice but i wish I had known. I fished it out of my pocket and went ahead and ate it and it wasn't bad much better than the Roctane orange vanilla!!
Mile's 17 and 18 were hard it was uphill and I was really starting to get a little tired... I almost took a walk break up one of the hills at mile 17 but I just couldn't do it... I had made 20 miles with no walking my goal.
Earlier Kelly had given me one of her 1/4 pbj sandwiches..she said she wanted to give it to me then because she didn't think she could catch up with me again... Ha!! It was me catching up with her!! She would get ahead of me and then at the aid stations she would walk and I would get ahead of her and then she would catch up... we kept this up until mile 18. Kelly asked if I had eaten my sandwich yet and I said no mile 20 about a minute later she took a walk break and I never did see her again until after the race.
Just before mile 20 we were approaching a large intersection and i could see the policeman was letting cars through but I really thought he would stop them as I/we got closer but no he let a car pull out in front of me and I had to put on the breaks so I wouldn't hit the car. I didn't come to a complete stop but I guess I went up on my toes or something because all of a sudden my calves seized up and the pain made me shout out something not very nice.. I heard the policeman yell back but i'm not sure if he was yelling at me or the car. Regardless the damage was done I was in intense pain BUT I kept on running. I had to make it to mile 20!! Finally just past mile 20 my claves were cramping and now something crazy was going on in my knee. I could almost deal with the calf pain but this knee thing was freaking me out so I took a walk break. My knee was spasming but after a minute or so of walking it calmed down and I started running again... and then my knee and calves started throbbing again so the next 6 miles were a mix of walking and running. I was so dissapointed but I knew if I didnt' give up completely I could still come in under 5:00 hours which was my primary goal for the race. 4:45 was more of a pie in the sky kind of goal... but i was so close!
All through the course there were so many signs with pictures of children who were or had been patients at St. Jude. For miles I had been following the Run for Jake signs... they had pictures of a smiling happy little blonde boy. Many times I would think I hope you are doing well Jake and in those last miles when I was really hurting I thought of Jake and Elijah Talley and all the other kids and how much pain they have to endure every day of their little lives.... I'm not sure exactly what mile I saw the sign but maybe 22 or 23 there was a big yellow sign that said "SMILE Jake always did" and I LOST it.. I started crying I was just devestated to know that this little boy who I had been following for over 20 miles had not made it.
Just before mile 24 I called Arland to let him know where I was and that I was really struggling... he told me to take some endurolytes and keep drinking water.
It was getting harder and harder the running sections were getting shorter... finally I was almost at mile 25 I was running and had just thanked a policeman when I heard my name.. I looked behind me and there was Jackie, she was a glowing vision in pink. She ran up to me and asked how I was feeling I told her about the cramping and she said ok we are going to to a "1 and 1" run 1 minute walk 1 minute. I was so happy and honored that she was going to stay with me and help me. She talked to me the whole rest of the way, constantly telling me how awesome I was and reminding me that yes this was hard but that's why we do it!! Just before the 26 mile mark we are running along and I see people running up this steep incline and I said oh no do we have to run up that thing... Yes we did. It is really cruel to put such a steep incline/hill that close to the end... but we ran up it, Jackie asked if I wanted to walk but I said no I just want this over!! LOL
In the past once you entered Auto Zone stadium the 1/2 and full marathoner's split off and the marathoner's had to run almost 3/4 around the track while the 1/2 was maybe 1/4. As we were approaching the stadium I was really just done and all I could think of was I still had to make it around that track.... so as we were running through the parking lot I had fallen a little behind Jackie when she turned her head to me and saw I was behind her she kind of turned sideways and held her hand out to me and said "come on Annette.. you can do this" I will never ever forget that... I was hurting but there she was holding out hope! Finally we turned into the stadium and there was the finish line just ahead, they had changed the course and we all had the same finish line.
I knew that Arland and the Cruisers would be somewhere at the finish and sure enough I heard my name and looked over and could see Arland and friends cheering me on. What a great finish... Jackie with me and my family cheering me on!!!
Jackie had been telling me we were going to make it under five hours and sure enough I could see the clock and it was going to be udner 5.. I wasn't sure exactly becasue I didn't know exactly how long it took us to cross the start line.. I knew it was at least 14 minutes.
Jackie gave me the biggest hug at the finish and then we went through the process of getting our medal, chips cut off... which by the way I could barely lift my let up onto that milk crate!!!
Arland gave me a big hug when I finally made it up the stairs but he had to leave so I went on to find the gang and some food.
I was really pretty emotional and kind of cranky by this point so when I got to the food. There were two men taking the food stubs from our bibs... the first man took mine and I was walking towards the soup when the second man said where is your ticket.. I said that guy took it and he said you can't go through twice..oh that was IT!!!! I said in a kind of raised voice I JUST GAVE IT TO HIM!!! I swear the second man didn't believe me but he finally let me go. The soup didn't look very appealing they only had one kind and so I passed. Next stop Krispy Kreme doughnuts... Normally I don't really care that much for Krispy Kreme but at that moment I was in heaven.. I dont' think anything has ever tasted that good!!!!
OK... speaking of food it is lunch time and Arland has been asking me for 30 minutes when we were going to eat... I will finish this later. I hope! ;)