Tag Archives: race recap

St. Jude Marathon Race Recap

12 Jan

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.

These ladies raised over $8,000 for Team Ryan!

These ladies raised over $8,000 for Team Ryan!

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.

It rained ALL day on Friday.

It rained ALL day on Friday.

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.

Gotta take a snap chat.

Gotta take a snap chat.

St. Jude Heros!

St. Jude Heros!

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.

KC girls ready!

KC girls ready!

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.

Waving to my Mom.

Waving to my Mom.

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.

At least I looked happy!

At least I looked happy!

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.

Passing the Half.

Passing the Half.

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.

Hardest experience EVER.

Hardest experience EVER.

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).

3:16:53!

Working harder than I ever have.

Working harder than I ever have.

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.

Proud of this medal.

Proud of this medal.

And even prouder of these girls!

And even prouder of these girls!

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.

Post race beer with my best cheerleader. This tasted SOOOOO good!!!

Post race beer with my best cheerleader. This tasted SOOOOO good!!!

More KC runners in Memphis. Great to see these guys!

More KC runners in Memphis. Great to see these guys!

At dinner with our Team Ryan group. So honored that we got to run for their daughter.

At dinner with our Team Ryan group. So honored that we got to run for their daughter.

8pm and barely staying awake. But that didn't stop Stacy from doing some karaoke.

8pm and barely staying awake. But that didn’t stop Stacy from doing some karaoke.

Splits:

  1. 7:28
  2. 7:17
  3. 7:25
  4. 7:26
  5. 7:15
  6. 7:29
  7. 7:14
  8. 7:17
  9. 7:24
  10. 7:24
  11. 7:16
  12. 7:19
  13. 7:19
  14. 7:17
  15. 7:24
  16. 7:27
  17. 7:27
  18. 7:20
  19. 7:33
  20. 7:35
  21. 7:32
  22. 7:38
  23. 7:29
  24. 7:44
  25. 7:34
  26. 7:51 + 3:17

3:16:53

Total Miles on the Garmin: 26.44
Average overall pace: 7:27
Overall Woman: 6th
Age Group: 1st

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 8.59.37 PM

xo,

Ali

The 2014 Boston Marathon

29 Apr

When I signed up for Boston this year, I knew it would be an amazing day. And amazing it was.

From the walk to Boston Commons, to the ride to Hopkinton, and the 26.2 mile journey back to Boston, it was amazing. And there is no better way to describe my experiences from April 21, 2014.

I thought about April 15, 2013 every day for the last year because it was terrible. Now I can’t stop thinking about April 21, 2014 because it was so much FUN.

Before the Race
When I woke up on Monday morning, I was instantly excited. The nerves were there, but not too crazy. I knew the day would be fun, and I could not wait. As I got dressed in all my gear and layered on all my throwaway clothes, I got more and more antsy to be at the start.

Love these socks!

Love these socks!

Thanks for the ugly shirt, Mom!

Thanks for the ugly shirt, Mom!

Ready to go.

Ready to go.

After saying ‘Bye’ to Ramsey, I flew out the door and started my walk to Boston Commons. Along the way, I started chatting with a few other runners that were as anxious and excited as I was. Once we got the Commons, we parted our ways. Last year when I got there, I had to wait in line FOREVER to board the bus. This year I sat outside gate and hopped right on a bus when they called my wave. It was pretty awesome not to waste an hour of energy standing in a line like we did last year.

On the bus I sat next to the awesome guy named Mark. I told him he was a good sign, as my Dad’s name is Mark. Then he informed me he had a sister named Ali! After that, we knew we were going to have a good day. The bus ride was long, made longer by the fact that we were all 100% certain that our bus driver was falling asleep on the drive. Not even kidding. It was terrifying. We had to keep whistling at him to keep him awake. That scare took some of the anxiety away from the 26 miles ahead…..

When we arrived to the start village, Mark and I parted ways. Then I immediately got in line for a potty and settled myself down on the ground. It was great that the weather wasn’t freezing so we were’t miserable before we started. I was able to see my friend Kerri in the village and sit with her for quite awhile before the race. That was nice to chat and catch up.

My friend Mark was fast...like, really really fast.

My friend Mark was fast…like, really really fast.

We were all best friends in there.

We were all best friends in there.

So many potties but still not enough.

So many potties but still not enough.

Hanging with Kerri.

Hanging with Kerri.

Start village.

Start village.

Trying to chill out.

Trying to chill out.

Then I saw Kathleen!!! Another running friend from KC.

Then I saw Kathleen!!! Another running friend from KC. Her throwaway clothes were much cuter than mine.

The process for getting to the starting line this year was much different than last, and felt very rushed. I liked that last year I could hang out at the start and watch the first wave go by. This year we were not allowed down there until they called our wave. When they finally called us down, I felt like I was in a HUGE rush to get myself in line and ready. Luckily – I made it in my spot with a minute to spare. I also got to see a couple more friends on the the way down – Jeff and Crystal!

It’s Go Time
When the gun went off, the enthusiasm of the runners and crowd was something I had not ever experienced. Everyone was celebrating, smiling and happy. We all wanted to have a great day, and the fans wanted us to as well.

Here we go!

Here we go!

I decided to run with my GoPro camera so I could capture moments and remember exactly how it was. Ramsey will be helping me make a video, but for this post I just added some of the photos.

My goal for this race was to have fun. My second goal for this race was to run under a 3:40. I had no idea what my body would be able to do, seeing that my training was a little different (ahem…slacking) than usual. I had some really good runs, but I also took two weeks off in the middle of training. I felt that 3:40 would be doable for me on that day.

Ashland - GoPro got a little sweaty.

Ashland – GoPro got a little sweaty.

I knew starting too fast was going to be an issue. I was corralled with people that ran 3:20 marathons….so I was not surprised when my first mile clocked in under 7:40. But I did say to myself, “you are running too fast….slow down”.

The first few miles blew by. I even got to run with Summer Sanders for awhile!!! That was pretty awesome and she seemed like a really nice girl. She even laughed at me when I made a joke (insert crazy happy face).

Summer is in the pink. And I am a creep for taking this photo.

Summer is in the pink. And I am a creep for taking this photo.

The towns promised that this year would be a Boston like none other, and they did not disappoint. Running by the Framingham train station was indescribable. The fans were screaming for strangers and thanking us for being there. Thinking about it now gets me all choked up, it was that incredible.

Framingham

Framingham. Can you see the “Run on Boston Strong” sign?

I continued a consistent pace of 7:50-8. I also continued to tell myself, “You are going too fast….” but I just couldn’t slow down. The crowd had me all jacked  (in the words of Greg Hall) and there was no slowing down while my legs felt good. I decided my new tactic would be to keep it going for as long as possible. Then I started thinking….”is a 3:30 in my future today?!?!!?!” (spoiler: it was not)

I was straight up giddy when we arrived in Wellesley. I heard the screaming before we saw the girls. Wellesley is the best part of this race, hands down. And this year, it went one FOREVER. I ran along the fence and high fived every girl I could. I watched the men getting kisses and some women too, and just laughed. It was insane and SO MUCH FUN!!!!

The best part!

The best part!

Please read these signs

please read these signs.

and these.

she’s a ginger.

and these

hippie girls.

Pure joy!!!

Pure joy!!!

When I hit Newton I knew the hills were coming. This would be my moment of truth and tell me just how long I could continue to run my 8 minute pace.

Newton Hills are upon us...

Newton Hills are upon us…

Then at mile 18 I made the huge mistake of stopping to walk through a water station and take my GU. I knew my legs were getting tired, but had no idea how tired they were until I started running again. Ouch ouch ouch. I remember thinking, “my legs didn’t feel like this at mile 18 in NYC….”

From that point on, I knew the rest of the race would be pure survival. My legs were burning bad, my asthma was horrible (I had to take my inhaler multiple times), and I was getting hot. We had super cold training runs all winter in KC, so running in 60 degrees and sun was not ideal.

I knew I was slowing down a lot on the hills, so I decided to stop looking at the Garmin. I didn’t want this race to go south mentally. The day was not about my time, it was about the experience. I made a rule that it didn’t matter how slow I was running, I could not walk. Walking is bad and only makes you want to walk more.

As I started heartbreak hill, I braced for what was to come. Then I saw a sign – “MEB WON!!!” As the runners went past this sign, we all cheered and celebrated. At that moment, it felt like WE WON this race. We were so proud and excited (I am crying right now writing this…that is how emotional it was). That sign was encouragement enough to get up that hill.

Heartbreak Hill!

Heartbreak Hill!

From that point on, I had my eye on the prize – finishing. I continued to soak it all in and enjoy every moment. I also continued to ignore the Garmin on my wrist because I did not want to ruin my moment.

With every hill I hit, I received cheers and encouragement. Wearing your name on your shirt is amazing in this race. A group of college guys started chanting “ALI ALI ALI ALI” around mile 23 and all I could do was laugh. That is why I was there. To have fun.

Every step was hurting. But every step was closer to the finish. In no time, I would be there.

Back in Boston

Back in Boston

I pocket face-timed Ramsey! See my yellow skirt?

I pocket face-timed Ramsey! See my yellow skirt?

Mile 25 I saw my amazing husband, as well as some of my blogger friends (Leticia and Michele!). This was one of the first times I looked down at my watch to calculate my pace. I realized if I kept going at the same pace, I would meet my goal of 3:40!!!!

This is what 25 miles of running looks like. I had to rub vaseline all over my shoulder, my inhaler is shoved in my bra and I am trying not to fall over.

This is what 25 miles of running looks like. I had to rub vaseline all over my shoulder because it was chafing, my inhaler is shoved in my bra and I am trying not to fall over. At this point of the GoPro video I am saying “This is the ugly”

GET ME TO 26!!!

GET ME TO 26!!!

See the Citgo sign???

See the Citgo sign???

As I turned right onto Hereford, I grabbed the GoPro to capture the moment. It was nothing I have ever experienced and something I never want to forget. So many people, all cheering for ME. And even better – yelling my name. I had nothing left in the tank, but this crowd got me through. (crying again right now!!).

So glad I got this photo. Ahhhhmazing.

So glad I got this photo. Ahhhhmazing.

Almost to the finish.

Almost to the finish.

And then I was on Boylston running to the finish.

Wow.

So much enthusiasm and encouragement there to support the runners, the victims, and the city of Boston.

26

26

As I ran by each bomb site, I blew a kiss to the victims and their families. Those victims were there on April 15, 2013 to cheer for the runners. And I could not pass by those sites without acknowledging them with some love.

When I crossed the finish I was flooded with so many feelings. The main one being happiness. I was sore, I was tired, I was struggling to breath, but it was still one of the happiest moments of my life.

Finishing the race. And healing at the same time.

Finishing the race. And healing at the same time.

Nothing like this finish.

Nothing like this finish.

And I crossed just fast enough to reach my goal – 3:39:14

Even in those painful miles at the end, the race went by so fast. I wanted the pain to end, but I never wanted the experience to end. I wish I could re-live that joy every single day.

Post Race
After crossing the finish line, I hobbled along for what felt like an eternity. I got to see Natalie Morales being interviewed by Extra and I thought, “damn that would suck to have to do an interview like that right after crossing the finish”. I also talked to a few other runners and we celebrated our races together.

Smiling right after I crossed the finish.

Smiling right after I crossed the finish.

When I saw Ramsey at the family meeting area, I couldn’t help but start to cry. So many emotions from the day all flooding out of me. I was so happy, and so thankful it had gone so perfectly. Even through the pain, the day could not have been any better.

We took photos and began the walk back to the hotel. I told him all about the race and how happy I was. I think he was expecting me to be disappointed, since he could see my splits significantly slowed down the last 8 miles, but I told him I had no feelings but joy. How could I complain or be unhappy about anything? I just completed my 6th marathon, which happened to be the best marathon in the world. And it was also my birthday – you can’t be mad on your birthday!

So happy!!!!

So happy!!!!

And so lucky!

And so lucky!

I still can’t stop thinking about this race and how awesome it was. I love the marathon, and I LOVE Boston. And I promise to be at that race as long as my legs will carry me there.

Thank you for the all the love, well wishes and support. I felt every last bit of them on this journey.

Wearing my Boston medal and jacket proud.

Wearing my Boston medal and jacket proud.

Splits:

  1. 7:37
  2. 7:50
  3. 7:59
  4. 7:39
  5. 8:08
  6. 7:41
  7. 7:52
  8. 8:01
  9. 7:55
  10. 7:47
  11. 8:04
  12. 7:45
  13. 8:04
  14. 7:54
  15. 8:02
  16. 7:44
  17. 8:26
  18. 8:33
  19. 8:39
  20. 8:40
  21. 9:31
  22. 8:47
  23. 8:51
  24. 9:04
  25. 9:19
  26. 9:30 + .45 @ 3:40

3:39:14

Xo,
Ali

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