I am officially a marathoner x 7!
Last month, I ran the St. Jude Marathon. I started writing this post 4 weeks ago, and I am finally forcing myself to wrap it up and post.
Here we go…
The weeks before St. Jude I kind of fell off the radar with my blog training updates. Part of the reason was because I was busy with life. The other part was that I wasn’t feeling well and just didn’t have anything positive to say. Halfway through my training I started having Plantar Faciitis pain in my left foot. Then it hit my right foot too. Somedays were better than others, but most days it hurt – and it hurt pretty bad. As I was approaching the race I was very uncomfortable and discouraged. I had multiple therapy sessions (I did lots of Graston therapy), bought myself a foot spa, and got many foot rubs. Leading into the race, my legs felt good, but the feet felt bad. And that had me all sorts of grumpy and stressed. I was so worried that my months of training would go down the drain because of my dumb feet.
When we arrived in Memphis on Thursday, I started to get more positive about the race and told myself I wouldn’t let my feet put a damper on all of training. I was with my Mom and two friends, so I knew it would be an entertaining and fun girls weekend.
Friday morning we went on a little shake out run, then hit the expo. After the expo I went back to the hotel room and just relaxed. It was a really nice afternoon and exactly what I needed.
After relaxing for quite awhile, we hit the town for dinner. Memphis is a fun city and everyone there is SO nice. I could not get over the positive attitudes and charm. There was no way to be in a bad mood there when everyone around you was smiling and happy as can be. We had a great dinner and walking around the city was the perfect way to decompress and RELAX.
When we got back to the hotel room, I started all of my pre-race rituals. My clothes were laid out, my feet were taped up and everything was ready for the next morning. I crawled into bed and attempted sleep. It certainly wasn’t the best nights sleep, but it was far from the worst. I will take it.
Saturday morning I sprang out of bed and was the most nervous I have ever been before a race. I force fed myself some breakfast, then got dressed and ready to go.
When we got to the start I immediately felt better. I got to see my friend DeEtta, and also had a little moment with Stacy and Diana. Those girls always put me at ease and make me feel better. I am so thankful to have them in my life.
My Mom told me good bye and good luck and I got in line at the start.
The singing of the National Anthem was incredibly emotional. A former St. Jude patient sang, and she did such a good job. I couldn’t help but cry. I remembered that I only had a 26.2 mile journey ahead of me, while the children at St. Jude had one much longer and harder ahead. Seeing that sweet little girl put everything in perspective for me. I was there to run and support them. The day was not about me, it was about them.
When the race started I tried to get into my groove. I stuck pretty close to the 3:15 pacer and decided I would hang onto him as long as it felt comfortable. The first few miles felt pretty good. I was hitting a solid pace, but did have a doubt in my mind if I could actually hang on to that pace for 26 miles. And a doubt at mile 2 is never a good thing.
At mile 3, I saw my Mom! That was the best treat. I love seeing her during races. No one can give me that extra umph quite like my parents. They are the BEST. The next best moment was running through the St. Jude campus at mile 5. There were so many people out cheering, including some of the patients. Another reminder as to why I was running this race. I was doing it for them.
When I hit the first 10k, I still wasn’t totally sure how I felt. People say you know if you’re going to have a good race the first few miles. For me, I don’t feel like I know until I cross that finish line. That is what is so scary about 26.2 – there is so much time for things to awry.
Around mile 9 I decided I needed to slow down a bit. I was still running with the 3:15 pacer, but knew his splits were too fast (not sure what pace band he was looking at…) I didn’t want to blow my race because I was trying to stick to this guy that I knew wasn’t running on pace.
Looking back, this was the best decision. Had I continued to hang on to this guy, I know I would’ve fallen apart at mile 18.
At mile 13 I finally felt in a groove. I was running completely alone and I was ok with that. I had my ipod and it kept me company. Miles 13 – 18 were the best of the race. I felt invincible and knew that I was going to PR. I continued to tell myself that it would be a great day.
When mile 20 hit, I started to feel a little rough. My legs were burning too much, and my feet were throbbing. The high from the past few miles was gone…and the new tactic was to just hang on and survive.
I gave myself the biggest pep talk of all time and decided once again to shut up and run. I knew that the second I crumbled mentally my race was over. If I admitted to myself just how bad I felt, it would start to show. I decided at this point not to look at my watch. If I was getting slower, I didn’t want to see it. If I saw my times slowing, I would’ve lost it mentally.
I knew that once I got to mile 24, I would feel better. At mile 24 we ran back through the St Jude campus and received some much needed encouragement. I knew I had slowed down, but I felt good and continued to pass other runners.
Mile 25 was hands down the hardest thing I have done in my entire life (physically that is). I felt like I was barely moving. Every step hurt more than I have ever hurt before. Looking back I don’t know how I kept going, it hurt that bad.
When I saw mile 26, I finally looked at my watch. With some quick math, I figured out that I could still break 3:17 if I picked up the pace and ran my ass off. So I did just that.
I ran harder than ever before. It was truly an out of body experience.
As we turned into the stadium (the race finished on a minor league baseball field) I kept my mind on the finish and continued to pump my arms as fast as I could.
Then I crossed the finish line (and maybe fell down on the ground in the most dramatic way, but I am not admitting to anything).
I did it. I broke my original goal of 3:20 and PR’ed. I couldn’t believe it. With how hard the last few miles felt I had no clue what I was in for with my time. I was shocked, happy and relieved that it was OVER.
After the race I waited for Stacy and Diana to finish. I was extremely proud of both of them and was very excited to see them at the finish and share our race experiences (the good, the bad and the ugly).
Looking back on this race, I know I gave it everything I had. And I should be extremely proud.
But I won’t lie…I was a little upset and I am still a tiny bit upset about the finish. I had trained to run a 3:15 and knew going into this race that my body could do it. So when I didn’t see that time on the clock when I finished, I was let down and bummed.
I don’t know why my body wouldn’t give me a 3:15 at this race. I trained for it, and worked my butt off for it. It was not one of those races where everything feels great and the last 6 miles make you feel like you are top of the world. At the KC half and NYC marathon, that is how I felt. At this race, I felt like I was hanging on for dear life almost the entire race.
It is hard to explain, but there is nothing better than the feeling of crossing the finish line with a big PR and feeling amazing on top of it.
I’m sure I sound like a cry baby, and that is certainly not my intention. I just wish that I would’ve felt better. Had I felt great AND ran a 3:16:53, I would have a different outlook on this race. The fact that I didn’t feel well forces me to do the “what if” game and think about how much better I could’ve done had it been a day where my body felt great.
Back to the positive 🙂
I would absolutely recommend this race to anyone looking for a marathon. The course was great. Not too flat and not too hilly. I think it was just the right amount of hills and flat. Our weather on race day was perfect, other than some pretty fierce wind. And as I said earlier, Memphis is a great city.
Now that this race is over, I get to go back to running for fun when I feel like it, not because I have to. I am looking forward to a break from marathons (well, after I run another one this weekend…) and enjoying half marathons.
As always, thanks for all the love.
- 7:51 + 3:17
Total Miles on the Garmin: 26.44
Average overall pace: 7:27
Overall Woman: 6th
Age Group: 1st