Wednesday, December 23, 2009

St. Jude- Memphis 1/2 Marathon

The St. Jude 1/2 marathon is special to me for various reasons but number 1 is the fact it was my very first half marathon!! That first race was so scary and exhilirating all at the same time and I was hooked after that! The second year I ran it with friends Cheryl and Kim. Cheryl had a miserable first 1/2 marathon in Little Rock so Kim and I wanted to run St. Jude with her so she would hopefully have a good experience and want to keep racing!
The third year at St. Jude I did the full marathon and it is still my marathon PR. The first 20 miles of that race were awesome, I ran the first 20 miles without ever taking a walk break....but then at mile 20 a car pulled out in front of me and when I had to "put on the brakes" my calves and quads started seizing and the last 6.2 miles were a very painful walk/run/survive!! I still had a huge PR but when I think of what it could have been it still makes me sad!

So on to this year......
Towards the end of the Women Can Run clinic in the spring a couple of the girls from my group decided they wanted to do the St. Jude-Memphis 1/2 Marathon as their first race. During one of our group runs they were discussing the race and Missie said to me that she didn't know if she could really do it, and I told her I knew she could do it because I was going to run with her. I think we all know how important having a big race planned is in keeping you motivated and the girls ran all summer to keep up their base mileage and then towards late summer we started increasing the mileage. I was so proud of Missie, running is not easy for her but she kept running and it was starting to get a little better. We had 3 good 10 mile runs, two of them were with me and then her last one was on the same day as the Wynne/Midsouth Marathon. Missie and Kristi ran it together and it was a great run for both of them.... and then her foot started hurting, not just hurting but swollen, red and intense pain. She tried the standard ice, elevate, rest but it wasn't getting better so she went to the Dr. for an x-ray. Nothing showed up but the dr. gave her some high dosage nsaids and told her to rest, it didnt get better, next she went in for an MRI and got the diagnosis of torn tendon and put in a boot. So no Memphis 1/2 Marathon for Missie. We were both really sad!!! but have already started making plans for her first half.....
So no Missie but Kristi had also been training very hard for Memphis and was very nervous. Kristi is a natural runner and is naturally fast but when Missie told me how nervous Kristi was I told her I would love to run with her if she wanted me to.

The trip to Memphis was fun. Jackie and Brenda rode with us and I don't think a road trip to Memphis has every flown by so fast!!!!! We were all at the same hotel so we checked in and headed over to the Expo. It was actually much better this year and I found a few goodies.
Our friend Rock was Brenda's roomate for the weekend, she and her mom drove up from Georgia. I hadn't seen her since Memphis last year so it was great to get to see her again!!!! The Marriott downtown has a special buffett pasta dinner for the runners so we all met in the lobby and headed over I think we had about 15 people. I love, love, love when we all do races together!

Kristi and her husband Philip got into Memphis a little late so they didn't eat dinner with us but we did get to harass them a little bit while they had their dinner in the hotel bar. Missie and I had put together a little goodie bag for Kristi's first 1/2 Marathon so she came up to our room later and I gave it to her. We shed a few tears and a few laughs and thenit was time to get ready for bed.

The next morning bright and early I get a text from Kristi... she said do I really want to get up out of this warm bed and go run???? such a silly girl!! I think my response was a simple YES you do!
It was freezing cold race morning and i had already suggested to Kristi that she dress in layers that she wouldn't mind throwing away and boy did she take my advice!! She looked like a big ol football player it was hilarious!
We all gathered in the Lobby and said our good-byes to Jackie, Arland and Brenda. Jackie and Arland did not get signed up in time before the race filled up and Brenda was tapering for the Rocket City Marathon.
We all walked to the start together and then everyone kind of scattered. First stop was bag check and then we were lucky enough to find a restroom that was not filled up so we were able to use real bathrooms before the race!
Heather S. was also doing the race, it would be her first half since having baby Avery in July.. I think it was July. I had forgetten to put my phone in my dry bag and at first was pretty upset since I have ruined too many phones during marathons!! BUT it turned out to be a blessing because Heather texted me wanting to know where we were.... of course I was in the port-a-pottie at the time!!! LOL
We were able to meet up with her and start the race with her!
I threw off my big fuzzy purple sweater while we were still in the Corrall but kept my foil blanket from a previous race. Have you ever run with one of those on??? they make a lot of noise! I was running along thinking sheesh this thing is loud when a guy runs by and tell me I'm making a lot of nosie! LOL
The first few miles were great, it was awesome to be running with Kristi and Phillip. I really felt good the whole run, it didn't take long until I lost the loud foil thingy and then next came my homemade arm warners and then my gloves. We got to see Brenda and Arland about mile3.5 and I gave Brenda my phone, something I would regret later!
About mile 5 the long sleeve tech shirt came off, it is super light so it was not a problem running with it tied around my waist. Kristi, Philip and I were carring small bottles of water so we were able to avoid a lot of the aid stations. I was so thankful to have that little bottle of water! Those aid stations were dangerous! One of the aid stations was on a highway bridge and it was icing up from all the water being spilled, a volunteer was warning runners about the ice so I made sure to steer us away from the worst of it!
Somewhere around 6.5 I lost Kristi and Philip, we were coming up on a long curved incline and I told Kristi was going to slow down. I really wanted to keep running with them but I also had to keep in mind that I would be running a marathon the next weekend and I didn't want to do anything foolish. It was pretty lonely after I said goodbye to my running partners. I had my i-pod with me but I never turned even turned it on. Rocket City has a very strict no i-pod rule so I decided to do withoutit for Memphis as well.
I never had to use the port a pottie during the race!!! I was so happy about that but the last mile I was starting to get that feeling and was just praying that it would hold off until I finished..and it did!!! When we ran by the Wonder bread bakery my stomach was really rolling!!!!
I never looked at my Garmin the whole time I was running so I really had no idea what my time was going to be, I knew it wasn't fast and when I looked down just before runing into Auto zone and saw 2:2x I wasn't surprised. Definately not a great time but I was happy with it and happy to be done and thinking good grief how am I going to run a marathon next week!!! I really didn't do a great job with nutrition and hydration, it was so cold I would forget to drink and the one gel I consumed took me so long to finish that I didn't want to do another one and I definately think that was a bad decision!

Once I crossed the finish line I started feeling a bit off... it was so crowded and I had no idea where anyone was and it was cold and .................I was LONELY!!! I retrieved my warm clothes from the bag check and went into the restroom to put them on. When I went back out it was so crowded but as I was wandering around I heard my name. It was Kevin, Heather's husband. He called Arland for me and I so wish I would have stayed with him and waited for Arland to call back because I ended up spending the next 30 minutes wandering aimlessy around. I did find Joan and her group but no Arland. After a little while I finally saw Krisi and Philip and gave her a big hug.. they did great!!!!!! It turns out that Arland was in that area all along but I just never saw him :(
I knew we all wanted to see Rock finish her marathon so I decided to head over to the Marathon finish line and lucky for me a very nice lady let me use her phone and I finally got to talk to Arland and we finally found each other! I was so relieved and for the first time since i finished the race i was able to relax a little bit! Brenda was sitting right by the finish with Rock's mom so we found her and we all waited anxiously for Rock. In the meantime we got to see some great finish's!! It was so amazing to me to see people sprinting in and in some cases racing each other to the finish! We also saw some people who were obviously in a lot of pain. One man was walking and it was a slow but steady walk, it was obvious it was all he could do but the amazing thing is he still finished under 3:30 hours!!! just amazing. It didn't take long until we saw Rock come into the Stadium and she looked so great!! she had on her serious running face....until she looked up at the time clock and saw the time... she got the biggest grin on her face and you could see her say "YES" and do the little arm pump!! It was priceless!!!! Her offical time was 3:37..... a PR and of course a BQ!!
We wanted to stay until everyone we knew was finished but we had to get back to the Hotel and get checked out.
We met up once again and headed out to find the Mexican restaurant we had eaten at the year before. We had a great lunch but soon it was time to say good-bye. We all really miss Rock so much and it was so hard to say good-bye :(
So once again St. Jude-Memphis was special and I look forward to next year!