Today’s marathon taught me many things but I’d say the biggest lesson I learned was to respect the distance. I’ve heard other runners say this but it’s never quite hit me the way it did today. And it hit hard. Forcing my legs to continue to move during the last 2 miles was a bigger accomplishment than running the entire first 24.
Going into this race I was pretty optimistic about it all. Even though I had run another marathon just 27 days prior I felt confident that this would be a good race. The St. Jude course is known for being pretty fast. It’s not flat but it’s not entirely hilly either. There would be actual people cheering on the sidelines (including John!) which made this race very different than D & L last month.
I was pretty excited about this race for another reason. It was the first race I was running as an “Elite.” * Quick disclaimer- Let me emphasize that I do not consider myself to be an elite athlete. I am a stay at home mom who does not get paid or sponsored to run. (Although either would be wonderful!) My time from the Heart and Sole Half Marathon (the one I ran in September) qualified me as an elite for this race. St. Jude happens to be one that requires a sub 1:30 half or sub 3:10 full so I applied using my HM time. For many other marathons I would need to run even faster times to fall under this category.
John and I made this trip by ourselves thanks to my wonderful in-laws for keeping all the kids. We left around 1 and got to the expo around 3. We didn’t stay too long at the expo. I bought a few gels and one pair of hot pink compression socks. I’m branching out from my usual black and white.
We checked into our hotel and went to Olive Garden. Time to carb load! Then we made a quick trip to Target before settling in for the night.
I got all my gear ready and I took a bath. I do this the night before every race. I relaxed and visualized a strong finish. I was in bed by 9:30 and asleep by 10:30. Unfortunately, I woke up at 2:30 to go to the bathroom and for the life of me could not fall back asleep until after 5 AM. Not good. I tried everything to calm my mind so I could go back to sleep but it just wasn’t happening. I think I dozed off for at least 30-45 minutes before my alarm went off so I’m not even sure if I slept 5 hours total. So not what I wanted the night before a marathon. I tried to tell myself it would not affect my race. I know this might not affect some people and I’ve heard many times it’s the sleep in the days before your race that matter more than the night before but not for me. The night before is the most important night in my racing book. Last fall I ran a really bad half marathon and I slept horrible the night before that race as well. How could this happen to me the night before my marathon. Why did I have to wake up at 2:30?! It made me angry but I just had to forget about it. There was nothing I could do about it and I had a race to run.
|Pre-race- let’s do this!|
We left our hotel at 7 and made it to the race around 7:30. John dropped me off right by my Corral and my only job from the next 30 minutes was to use the port-a-potty and relax. It’s kind of nice not having to deal with a warm up for a marathon. (At least I don’t anyways!)
In the days leading up to this race I struggled with whether or not to stay with a pace group. Memphis offers many pace groups but I wasn’t sure whether to use the 3:05 or the 3:10. I had a feeling I would fall somewhere in between. Once I was at the starting line I decided to just go out on my own and if I could stay with the 3:05 I would. My goal was to average between a 7-7:15 pace.
Mile 1- 6:58. I should note that this is the first time I have ever seen a 6:xx min mile in a marathon. Even at D & L my fastest mile was a 7:00. Not sure if seeing my first 6 in a marathon- at mile 1 was the best thing but hey- it is what it is!
Mile 2- 7:06. Still no sign of the 3:05 group. I started in front of them and I honestly thought they would be right at my heels and pass me any minute.
Mile 3- 6:57. Starting to find my rhythm.
5K time- 22:01
Mile 4- 6:47. Hmmm. Some of my miles I ran in the Heart and Sole Half Marathon nine weeks ago weren’t even this fast. Might need to slow down a tad. Had some gu with water. I should note now that I took some water or powerade at least every two miles. It was offered every mile and temps got up to 70 degrees which was very unusual for this time of year at this race.
Mile 5- 6:51. This is my favorite mile of the race because this was the mile we ran through the St. Jude Hospital campus. When you are running by wall to wall St. Jude former patients and families holding signs with the pictures of their kids who are being treated or who have gone to be with Jesus- how can you not run your heart out?! It really puts everything into perspective when you think about what these kids and their families go through.
Mile 6- 7:04. I saw John somewhere around this mile for the first time.
10K time- 43:00
Mile 7- 7:01.
Mile 8- 7:01.
Mile 9- 7:00. Took some more gu with water.
15K time- 1:05:34
Mile 10- 7:01. It seemed like it took forever to get to the 10 mile mark!
Mile 11- 6:54. This begins my little stretch of feeling good and on top of the world. I didn’t know how long I would feel this way so I just decided to go with it while it lasted. I also saw John again this mile and that always makes me happy.
|Just look for the hot pink!|
Mile 12- 6:55.
Mile 13- 6:58. Took some more gu with water.
Half Marathon time- 1:32:00. I should note that last year I ran in the St. Jude Half Marathon. My time was 1:32:37. It was a little crazy/ encouraging to think I ran faster than that today during a full marathon just one year later.
Mile 14- 6:53.
Mile 15- 7:02.
Mile 16- 7:10. Miles 16-18 contain the hilliest section of the marathon. I knew if I could just make it to 19 the rest was supposed to be downhill.
Mile 17- 7:15. I knew my time was slowly dropping. I was still in the 7-7:15 range but I still had the hardest chunk of the marathon to get through- the final 10K. During this mile I took another gu with water.
Mile 18- 7:19.
Mile 19- 7:23. I passed the lady who had been in 3rd place at this point. I hoped I had enough in me left to stay in front of her.
Mile 20- 7:09. I was in 3rd place during the first part of this mile but shortly after John saw me a different lady came from behind which moved me into 4th.
|Two other ladies are right behind me!|
Mile 21- 7:16. During this mile the lady I had originally passed for third came up behind me putting me in 5th place. I took one more gu with water during this mile hoping it would give me a little more energy to battle the last few miles.
Mile 22- 7:34. I was feeling mentally tough but my body couldn’t catch up.
Mile 23- 7:37. So glad when I made it to this mile and I knew I had just over a 5K to go. Hang on!! The 3:05 pace “group” actually passed me in this mile. And by group I mean only the pacer by himself.
Mile 24- 7:42.
Mile 25- 7:45. During this mile my right hip started hurting. My knees were aching and the heat was starting to get to me. Could I pull it together for one more mile?
Mile 26- 8:01. I really didn’t want to see an 8 on any mile during this race but I had nothing left at this point.
Mile 26.34- 2:28 (7:19 avg.).
TOTAL TIME- 3:09:17 (7:14 avg.) 5th place overall female. (1st place finished in 2:55.)
|Making the turn for the final sprint to the finish.|
|so focused on crossing that finish line!|
After I finished my friend Leslie who had run the half found me. I had heard her cheering right when I entered the finish line area. I’m so glad she found me!
Then I walked out of the finish area to meet John. As soon as I found him we hugged and I burst into tears. Those last few miles had been so hard and it was an emotional race. Maybe it was the lack of sleep, heat or the fact that this was my 2nd marathon and my body was worn out. I gave this race everything I had. I wish I could say I maintained steady, even splits all the way through but I can’t. It was not for lack of focus. I could not move my legs any faster. They were spent.
After the race we headed back to the hotel so I could shower and change before lunch and the drive home. We stopped at Cracker Barrel and I loaded up on chicken and dumplings and other good stuff.
Now that I’m home I’ve had some time to reflect on the race. I’m sure I will post more about this later in the week. I will also be analyzing my four marathons this year. I went into the year with my personal best marathon time of 3:35. In January I ran a 3:19. In March I ran a 3:15. In November I ran a 3:11 and today a 3:09. I am slowly inching my way down. I have not taken off huge chunks at a time but I am heading in the right direction. More on this to come. For now, it’s time for bed! And I’m pretty sure I will not be waking up at 2:30 this time!