St. Jude Marathon Race Report- Respect the distance.

St. Jude Marathon Race Report- Respect the distance.

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.

The Race

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!

41 thoughts on “St. Jude Marathon Race Report- Respect the distance.

  1. YOU are incredibly. And incredibly inspiring. Gosh Tia, you keep going! I have no doubt that you could be one of those Olympic qualifiers if you put your mind to it. You’re so strong and steady and when you set your mind to something, you do it! You have the hard work to go with the talent and the beauty. πŸ™‚ So happy for you. And you write a great blog….a good solid running blog that so many of us can learn from. Great job Tia!

    1. Amanda- you are so sweet!! Thanks. I don’t always think of myself as a writer but I love being able to write out my random thoughts about my running.

      Thanks for your encouragement all along the way! I appreciate it!

  2. I can’t believe you ran another PR just weeks after your last one. That’s fantastic! It’s going to be interesting watching your progress again next year and seeing how many more elite starts you get.

  3. You made a huge improvement in your marathon time, TIa. I admire that you went for it at St. Jude, even though it made for some really tough miles at the end. You never know what your body has in it, and sometimes it pays to take chances. I also believe that pushing so hard in those last mile will benefit you in your next race, because it seems like mentally you pushed it a step further. And yes, the mind can’t do it if the body is all done, it does not quite work like that:)
    I truly believe that 7:00 is your MP now and have no doubt that you will get to run a sub 3 pretty soon. Very excited for you! I hope you are celebrating!

    1. Thanks! I really felt like the 7 min pace was a good fit until that last stretch. It’s so hard to know whether to space it more evenly or just go for it. I guess it comes with experience and practice. Thanks for your comment and encouragement!

  4. Not only do you run two marathons in four weeks but you write a race recap on the same day too. You are so impressive Tia! Congrats on your race. I’m sorry your legs didn’t have more in them at the end. I can definitely relate! You’ve had an amazing racing season in 2012. I’d love my 2013 PRs to follow a similar pattern. πŸ˜‰ rest up and enjoy your accomplishments.

    1. Lol!! Yes, I wanted to get it all down while it was fresh on my mind and consuming my thoughts! I’m sure your 2013 season will be a good one. You seem to be right where I was last year at this time. Just keep running and listen to your body. I had a little injury hang up this spring/ summer that I had to work through but I think that just comes with the territory. You are going to work through this foot issue and you’ll do great next year!

    1. Thanks Laura! Maybe that first half was a little too speedy! lol. It’s hard to make yourself slow down when you’re feeling good but we live and learn, right?!

      Excited for you and your Houston training. Excellent marathon course!! You are going to do great!

  5. Wow. Just wow.

    You’ve had a phenomenal year and should be so proud of yourself, Tia. I admire you so much.

    I foresee a 2 in front of that marathon time by the end of 2013. Enjoy your recovery and have a great holiday season!

    1. Oh- thank you Allison. That has definitely tuned into a dream of mine. Maybe by next December. I’m thinking that this will be my one and only target marathon next fall and if I’m able to train right maybe it could happen then. We’ll see. It’s a long way off but we’ve got to have our goals, right?! πŸ™‚

      Thanks for your comment and I hope you have a great holiday season as well!!

  6. Gosh, Tia, I read your splits and I’m just in awe. Way to go. Way to stay so mentally strong. You about had me in tears. I’m so proud of you! Way to reach your goal! So happy for you!

    1. Thanks Tayarra! I thought of you a few times- and your last 10K pep talk! I did my best and your comment from a previous post made me smile. πŸ™‚

  7. I’m speechless! That is an amazing race. You ran four marathons in one year, and bettered your time for every single one! That takes strength and determination. I couldn’t even fathom running a marathon four weeks after my last one – I don’t know how I did it last year! Your time will keep dropping and dropping! It is an emotional run!
    On another note, I really love the pink pure cadence, but was told it is more of a supportive shoe, so I have the connects becasue I don’t need that support – do you need support and that is why you wear them? I just love the style/color and am a HUGE fan of the pure line – drooling over all the new ones coming out! I might have to try the cadence out…
    Congrats, again – SO HAPPY for you! Now, relax!!!;-)

    1. Thank you Katie! Well, I definitely might have pushed it with 4. I’m thinking I will just have one target fall marathon (this one) next year and go for it. πŸ™‚

      The cadence worked great! Personally, I like more supportive shoes. I am not a big “minimal” fan but that’s just because +or yI have always worn cushion-y and supportive shoes. The Brooks Cadence are marketed as “minimal shoes with support” and they are perfect for me! πŸ˜‰ They are my new racing, tempo and track shoes. For all my easy and long runs I wear supportive trainers (Brooks Trance or Asics Gel Nimbus). I’m sure you would love the Cadence!

      Thanks for your comment and your encouragement!

  8. It sounds like you had a good race and stayed mentally strong and focused liked you hoped you would. I am sure the heat played a big roll in your fatigue during the last miles. I think you should be so proud of that PR!!!! I hope I can maintain some of that toughness in my full!

    1. Thanks Kortni! I’m sure you will. Pacing right is the big issue. My first half was a bit faster than my second half. I’m not sure if it was the pace or the fact that it was my 2nd marathon (or like you said- the heat). It’s such a long race so it could be any number of things. It’s a hard race to run but so rewarding and worth it. I’m excited for you and hope your training continues to go well.

  9. What an amazing effort, Tia! And not to mention a shiny new PR! Congrats to you!! I can’t imagine holding that pace for as long as you did! Loved the race recap (how on earth do you remember all those details???) and can’t wait to hear some more of your post-race thoughts. You give me hope – I’ve got a PR of 3:27 (set two years ago before I had kids) and am really hoping to better it now that I’m done with the whole gestating life phase. πŸ™‚ I’m running Shamrock Marathon in March and am hoping I can set a new PR there! Would love to hear your thoughts on what you think contributed to being able to improve your PR by so much in one year – speedwork? Mileage? LT-improvement runs? Congrats again – hope you are enjoying your much-deserved rest!!

    1. Thanks Jenn! Not sure how I remember all of that. I remember reading someone’s Boston Marathon race recap when they went through mile by mile and I couldn’t believe they remembered so many things. It really just comes right out and I don’t even have to think about it.

      I’m sure with the right training you could set another PR. A 3:27 is a great time- obviously you have a talent with it.

      Over the past year or so I have slowly increased my mileage and the number of days a week I run. Last summer fall I was running 3 or 4 days a week (30 miles a week give or take). By last year at this time I moved up to 5 days a week and was more in the mid 40 range. I stayed in the 40-50 range and then actually went down a lot in the spring/ early summer and cross trained a lot (biking and swimming) because of some tendonitis after a hilly marathon I did in March. This summer I started back again around 40 and built up my mileage. I mostly ran in the 50-65 mile per week range (a few weeks I might have had a few more). and I ran 5-6 days per week.

      As far as runs- I vary my training paces. I have speed work one day per week. (Track intervals/ repeats.) Later in the week might be a LT run. The rest are easy runs (run 45-60 seconds slower than marathon race pace). The easy runs make up the majority of my runs but they allow me to run my key workout runs at a good pace.

      Thanks for your comment! Good luck with your training for the Shamrock Marathon!

    2. Thanks so much for your comments, Tia!! I’m following Pfitzinger’s plan (55-70mpw) and hope it will help me set a new PR. Just trying to make sure I stay healthy!! πŸ™‚ I like how he doesn’t do too much track-based speedwork – that seems to be what gets me in trouble (injury-wise) as the intervals stress my body more than easy miles do. I was doing speedwork twice a week in previous training and I think I’m better off backing it down to once a week for the time being! πŸ™‚

      Can’t wait to see what’s next for you – I echo the comments of the other gals – I think you’ll have a 2:xx marathon time pretty soon!! πŸ™‚

  10. To say you are an amazing runner is simply an understatement Tia. I am so happy for you and your accomplishments this year….you have worked hard and deserve it! Thank you for being an inspiration and I can’t wait to see what 2013 holds for you!

  11. Tia, You did amazing and I want to begin by saying congratulations!!!! I hope to be there some day! (Maybe I will if I keep reading your blog and learning from you!)

    I also wanted to say that you did remarkably well bringing your time down each race in that series of 4. It doesn’t always happen that way!

    I also run multiple marathons a year because I enjoy them and I am trying to run one in every state, but I try to mix things up a bit. One thing I like to do is to have different goals, like pacing a marathon or doing a trail 50K mixed in with the marathons. That breaks up the training, and I find that I actually run stronger after these events. They serve as good marathon training.

    Good luck with your winter training. I am beginning to research training for Little Rock. I would love to see what you are going to do to train for this one if you care to share!

    1. You do a great job mixing things up with different states and pacing some of them. I’m looking forward to meeting you when you come do Little Rock in March! πŸ˜‰

  12. Wow! Somehow I missed this race report last week and I’m so glad I came back and found it. Congratulations!! You are incredible! I am so amazed that you not only ran four marathons in a year but that you went from a 3:35 to a 3:09! I can’t tell you how inspiring that is and how much I am in awe of you! (Maybe if I use more exclamation points then you will know?!) Ha!

    Congrats again. I can’t wait to see what you do next. πŸ™‚

  13. I think so highly of your running abilities, I actually would’ve been surprised to see you NOT pull out a PR out of this marathon. That probably seems silly, but you are so strong and so focused these past couple training cycles. Congratulations on another amazing race!! I hope you are taking every quiet second you can to revel in what you’ve accomplished.
    You amaze and inspire me, constantly! Enjoy your time off to regroup and recover.

  14. Holy moly, woman!! I’ve read this a few times. Just want to say how impressed I am that you can pull off the back to back HARD races like you do.

    What a great race, and more impressively, what a great progression of marathons for you this year! It seems like you learn so much with each one, and get a bit stronger. I remember a lady, who not to long ago was chasing a sub 1:30 half– and now she’s running a 3:09 full. Awesome, JUST awesome! Hope you are still glowing from that finish, and the love and support you had from friends there.

    Enjoy your break, and I will have fun tracking your Boston training.

  15. I peek at your blog every now and then even though you are way faster than me! St Jude was my 3rd HM this year and I PR’ed with a 1:46. Congrats on your race, and your continued improvements. I wish it hadn’t been so warm and muggy, but I will try again next year. I saw you!!! My friend lost his key and we were wandering around near where the porta-potties had been whan were heard some hollering. We turned around and saw you booking pretty good. I love, love, love pink so that is why I noticed you. Great job and thanks for the blog.

  16. This was my second marathon and I was able to cut an hour and 6 minutes off last years finishing time! (Last year was really slow) I was on pace for 4:45 but cramps got me those last three miles!

  17. I just randomly stumbled on your blog, and I have to say I’m totally inspired by your race! Also, I know the lone 3:05 pacer…he told me he’s usually always alone at the finish, and apparently it’s true! I’m running next weekend hoping to break 4 hours. Thanks for the inspiration!

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