Yesterday, I completed the St. Jude Memphis Marathon. Such an awesome, inspiring and fun experience. So much has happened this year (since the first marathon in January). Originally, last year, I was meant to run St. Jude as my first marathon, but I suffered a calcaneal stress fracture in my right foot several months before the marathon date. I ended up volunteering at a water stop during the race and cheering on my friends who raced, but deep down I always wanted that to be my first marathon.
Most of my friends know that I was supposed to run the Marine Corp Marathon this past October, but again I was stuck with an injury. The right leg again, but this time a gastrocneumius strain.
This past 6 months has taught me so much. I learned a lot about ramping up too quickly, learning how I need to allow my body to adjust to running, eating correctly, cross training etc. etc. With the injury this past Summer (commenced around August), I really only had 6 weeks to train for the St. Jude Marathon (flashback to what I went through this exact same time last year). Adam and I had both signed up to do St. Jude earlier this year. I was planning to do it for fun and knew I would be trained based on running MCM in October (little did I know what was in store). One of the main reasons we signed up was because we had friends who were going to be pacing the runners as part of the official pace teams. We knew it would be a fun experience.
To give you an idea of how much training we had done leading up to yesterday’s marathon…our longest training run was around 14.7 miles. We never got to a 20 mile training run. We did manage to run one half marathon during November which was helpful, but nowhere near where we needed to be.
The conversation as Adam and I drove downtown for Saturday’s race went like this…
“Are we really ready for this”?, …”I don’t know, what’s the likelihood we could both die doing this today?”…”I think the likelihood of us both dying is a lot less than the likelihood of one of us dying”…”Who would take care of the dogs if something happened to us”?…”I don’t know, I have you listed as my emergency contact”…..”hahaha, me too”…”Darn, if we both die today, no one will know until Tuesday”…by then, we were parking the car and laughing at ourselves.
Started out the race with the pace group of 4:55. Our friend, Chris Stafford (an accomplished athlete and IRONMAN) was pacing this group. Adam started out in the pace group of 4:10 (with another accomplished athletic friend who was pacing, Jennie V). We both thought this was a safe bet for us to finish the marathon safely and most of all to have fun. For me, I had thought maybe I could go a bit faster but I didn’t want to take the risk. I remember how the marathon feels around mile 20 and I didn’t want to lose it then and risk not being able to run for many months after doing something stupid again. To be honest, the running was feeling great. We were averaging an 11:15 pace and the crowd was awesome. Between the energy from the crowd and another friend (Chuk) who was running in this group, I was very entertained. Never turned the iPod on! You also run through the St. Jude campus during this stretch. Tons of crowd support. The most meaningful sign I saw on several spots of the course was “Keep Smiling. Jake always did”. There was a pic of the young St. Jude patient along with this sign.
Another flawless stretch. You run through Overton Park and by the zoo. Towards the end of this stretch we ran by Sun Studios and one of the many entertaining bands was playing on the sidelines. Around mile 13, I felt some pain in my quads. This was the same pain I felt after the 65 mile bike ride from last weekend…hmmm. Luckily, no calf pain and since our pace group was walking through each aid station, I hydrated VERY WELL! Yay! I also ate my power bar gels every 2 miles or so. I remember some advice that JV gave me for my 1st marathon, to alternate at aid stations (water at one, powerade/gatorade at the next). I was trying to remember to do that also.
Miles 13.2 – 20
This stretch took us back from downtown out to Central Gardens and the Cooper Young community. This stretch was fun since locals really come out to cheer you along with their own aid stations (anything from beer, donuts, soda, candy). Made you feel very welcomed. Around mile 19, was the only debbie downer of the day. The cops had the traffic on Central held so we could run by and a man in a blue car 3 cars back started yelling at the runners. He yelled “hurry up”! I of course, at this point, had a low threshold for that drama…and responded “why don’t you get out here and do this?”…he then replied “by telling me to shut up and called me a B–ch”…I replied by calling him a “wimp”…really trying not to curse during this race for a couple of reasons 1) I was running with a group and some of them were people who this was their first marathon 2) I know my Mom would be very upset with me 🙂
Either way, it fueled my legs for the fire of mile 20 and forward and I actually had to slow my roll a bit as I wanted to go faster than I was supposed to. If only I could have someone piss me off about every 3 miles during the marathon – I would be set!
The last 5 or so miles of the marathon were great. I don’t even really remember the mile markers. Our pace group became a bit of sag…picking up runners who were hurting and falling off their original goal. We lost quite a bit of our original group also. I am pleased to say the few of us that were left (Chris, Chuk, myself, Phil, Stephanie) were all very happy. Phil completed his goal of his PR and a sub 5 hour marathon. Stephanie completed her first marathon at 42 years old! It was a great group and has definitely fueled my desire for doing more marathons and endurance races.
If they will have me next year, I would love to be one of the pacers 🙂
Marathon time: 4:54:43
Lessons learned from my first marathon:
Lesson #1 – Get plenty of rest at least the 2 nights prior to your marathon morning – DONE!
Lesson #2 – Get plenty of healthy carbs in your body at least 2-3 days if not more prior to your marathon morning (not at the last minute on the night before). – DONE!!
Lesson #3 – Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate (with water and electrolytes). Oh and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! – DONE!!!
Lesson #4 – Have fun, meet new people and remember that this is as much a mind game as it is a physical test. If you smile, trust me – the pain will seem more bearable. – DONE!!!!
Lesson #5 – No matter how much you prepare, there will be a part of your body that will still be tested, torn up or in pain but those battle scars are worth it. You will also forget something (may it be that you wanted to get photos of the moment or tell someone they did a great job). – YEP, Worst one this time was a blister on top of my left pinky toe. It’s pretty gross…but here is what it looks like. It ain’t purty!
Lesson #6 – This is the most important one to me. NEVER SAY NEVER. Never say…I can not raise the money for the cause or I can not do a marathon. Most of you know I never played sports in grade school or college. Running is a relatively new thing for me. – DONE! !!!!! ….the phrase for the day was “Mind over Matter”
I would be remiss if I did not say a big CONGRATS to our friend Angie who had the fastest female time yesterday for the marathon at 3:08 and some change. Wyatt wanted to send a big paws up high five to her!!!! Congrats Angie.