Monday, January 7, 2013

Marathon Recap - Part 3?

**Disclaimer, HOLY CRAP have I been away for a while.  The holidays and a trip to Alabama kept me busy.   I am going to do the best I can to recap my actual marathon experience, but I know it will be lacking since it's been over a month.

Best way to start off the post, a random photo of my favorite little girl.  She was an awesome cheerleader rocking her St Jude tattoo, pom-poms in her hair and either a cow bell, pom-poms, or sign in her hands most of the day. 

I can't recall what time I woke up, but I do thank my Mom for keeping the kids the night before the marathon so I could rest well!  First up, breakfast - half a plain bagel, then shower/shaving legs, and getting dressed.  I spent alot of time anxiously pacing the room.  We met up with my Mom, sister, and kids in the lobby of the hotel where my mom gave me an awesome card (no pictures, it was a victim of my son).  After lots of hugs and some tears we headed out so that I could line up in my corral.

I headed to the corral 7 were I knew the 4:25 pace group would be.  After my training and talking to the pace group at the expo I figured this would be the best place for me.  I made small talk with the the other runners and laughed (internally) about the pacer in my group who was wearing a Goofy hat with a kitchen timer on the back... (it counted down from 4:25 as soon as we started the race... what a neat idea). It was warmer than I would have liked - mid 60s with humidity of near 75% but I knew there was no turning back now.

Like most races there was a staggered start, so I ended up crossing the start line 12 minutes after the first racers.  I started off easy as planned, my only goal was to stay with the pace group. There was about a mile (roughly 1.5-2.5) that we ran along the river PLUS it was mostly downhill - I really enjoyed that part! The only bad part is that we seemed to catch up the corral before us and it got pretty crowded for a while.  There was a short hill as we headed up towards Beale street.  It wasn't terribly long, but it was enough to get my attention - at this point the pace leaders said we had seen the worst hill of the day so I was feeling confident. Beale street was awesome, lots of spectators - although I will admit I was too busy trying to stay on pace and relax that I wasn't able to take it in.
Beale Street
5k: 31:12 (10:03 pace)

After Beale Street we headed towards the St Jude Campus (about 4.5-5 miles, very short distance).  While this was a very short stretch it was one of my favorite.  It was a great reminder of why we were running, it was very emotional to see all the patients and family out cheering for the runners.  I fought back tears the whole time, giving high-five to all the kids offering their hands.  I was sad to see this end, it surely didn't help that the next 3 miles were just straight down one road, I do terrible with long stretches like that.  Just before mile 8, we turned to head through Overton Park.  Somewhere around here I got ahead of my pace group - I was feeling pretty good and confident in how I was doing.

Just before exiting Overton Park
15k: 1:34:13 (10:09 pace)

As we exited Overton Park, the lack of cloud cover and heat/humidity started to have an affect on me.  I noticed running was requiring more effort and I just wasn't running as efficiently as I would have liked.  I feel like somewhere in here was the first time I saw ice cold towels being handed out to the runners - although I unfortunately missed them and didn't think to turn back and get one.  Leaving Overton Park, we were in for another 2 mile straight-away.  I kept reminding myself why I was running, and mentally prepping myself for the break-off of the half marathoners.  I knew this would be the point of no return and it scared me.  Luckily for me, my family was just after the split and it was great to see their faces, though at this point I was HOT and I had no clue how I was going to run another another 13+ miles.  They yelled out encouragement and it really helped, although it didn't alleviate the effects of the heat. 

Agonizing over the heat

13.1 miles: 2:11:59 (10:00 pace)

Then THIS happened...

Somewhere between mile 14 and 15 I started to feel it was just impossible to keep up with the pace group so I let myself walk.  My family stationed somewhere around mile 14.5  (?) and I must have looked terrible because my Mom asked me if I was going to quit.  I assured her that wasn't the plan and I got back on course and kept plugging away.  It was about that time that I pulled out my cell phone and made a post to facebook - this was probably a mistake, I was letting myself give in mentally and if I had it to do all over I would have left my phone in my pocket. I trudged on, walking for a while until the 4:40 pace group caught me (around mile 16.8). I tried to run with them for a while, but in the end I just couldn't cut it and had to let them go at around mile 19.  HUGE mental hit - but I kept doing what I had to do to get closer to the finish line. Run, walk, crawl.... I was going to FINISH.

19.6 miles: 3:38.27 (13:13 pace)

There were a total of 7 calls placed and two calls received on my cell during the marathon - thank goodness for my support crew.  Much of the miles after 15 or so are a blur.  I don't have much memory, the details here are a result of analyzing call logs and my garmin.  I do know it was around mile 18 or so that I realized that even though I was hot I wasn't actually sweating anymore. Sometime around mile 21 was a turning point of sorts, I couldn't possibly get any further from the finish line, so I knew it was "all downhill" from there on.   Somewhere in the last 6 miles I was able to pick up an ice cold towel.  I also took gatorade several times in the last 6 miles, again don't ask me when.  It upset my stomach nearly every time, but at that point I felt it was absolutely necessary to finish the race.

My mom called me at around mile 22.8 to "talk me in" to the finish like I had done for her at her last 5k.  I really needed it.  I wanted nothing more than to see my little girl (who was with my mom) and to have her run with me.  When I run with her it always feels so effortless.  I talked to my mom until about mile 24, or actually, she mostly talked and I mostly listened.  It was nearly impossible to breathe, talk, and walk all at the same time. 

Around mile 23.5 I started to get a "second wind" and by mile 24, Mom and I decided to get off the phone, I was going to try running and see how far I could get.  I ran most of the rest of the race with a few short walk breaks to collect myself.  The photos below were taken at about mile 25 as I ran past St Jude for the second time (you can see the Pyramid in the background of one and the Memphis Grizzlies House (I believe?) - its one of the places where the patients stay while being seen at the hospital.

I came across my mom and daughter at around mile 26 and I knew at that point I wanted Natalie (my daughter) to help me finish the race so I asked her to come out and run with me - luckily none of the race staff said anything about her running with me.  I ran with her right up until I entered the stadium.  At that point, she ran over to my sister and hubby while I ran inside the stadium with everything that I had.  It may not have been pretty - but I had finished a marathon! 

nearing the stadium

Finish: 5:14:39 (14:39 pace) - 12:01 avg pace overall
Garmin measured: 26.6 - 11:50 avg pace overall

It wasn't within the time goal I had in mind - I wanted to, at worst, finish sub 5.  But, it was way better than I envisioned when I signed up for the race.  I remember calculating the times and being worried I wouldn't be able to finish in the allowed time.  From the beginning it was supposed to be a race I ran/walked but as my training went on I realized I should be capable of more.  Unfortunately, December 1st just wasn't my day.

Analysis and post race thoughts/festivities will have to wait for another day, this is already a novel. 


  1. Great job pushing through the last part that was so tough. Who would have thought the heat would have been so bad for a December marathon?!

  2. You did absolutely wonderful beating the demons that popped up and showing them you could finish! And again - congratulations on being top fundraiser for your state. You nailed this race from all aspects.

  3. Great job pushing thru! Love the picture with you and your little girl running! That's one thing I wish I would have had at my half was support from family and my kids.
    When I hit my wall I got my phone out to see I had a text from a good friend asking how it was going. I texted back and they helped me get thru my wall and finish the race.

  4. Your post got me all teary eyed. I am proud of you. I know your time overall wasnt what you wanted nor trained for, but you did great. And you finished what you started. You never gave up. You taught your kids an important lesson that day about never giving up and to always believe in yourself. Good job!! chris newmark