St. Jude Marathon Report

I did it! I finished and survived the St. Jude Marathon relatively unscathed and in a reasonable time. Here’s a play-by-play of the day (Warning – it is long!):

So the song goes:

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you can call him a man?

It’s a little known fact the song originally went:

How many times must Bethany change her clothes
Before she runs in this dern marathon?

First it was the long-sleeve coral Saucony shirt with long black tights. Then the long-sleeve awesome purple Nike shirt with long black tights. The answer truly was blowing in the wind because it was warm and windy that morning. I walked out on the front porch in the long sleeve outfit for a test a realized it would not do. So I changed to one of my favorite short sleeve shirts (Breakaway’s “Run for the girls”) and knee-length black tights. Later on in the race I would have liked to have on a tank top and shorts!

Here is what I predicted for race day using my Totally Unscientific St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weather Spreadsheet:

  • Min Temp: 38.2
  • Mean Temp: 46.0
  • Max Temp: 56.6
  • Precipitation: 0.3 Inches
  • Snow Depth: 0.0 Inches
  • Mean Wind: 9.4 MPH
  • Max Sustained Wind: 15.3 MPH
  • Max Wind Gust: 14.1 MPH

Here is what it really was:

  • Min Temp: 37.0
  • Mean Temp: 54.3
  • Max Temp: 62.1
  • Precipitation: 0.0 Inches
  • Snow Depth: 0.0 Inches
  • Mean Wind: 10.24 MPH
  • Max Sustained Wind: 16.9 MPH
  • Max Wind Gust: 28.77 MPH

Not too far off! The max temp was higher, we ended up getting no rain instead of a little and the max wind was almost double. If you need me I’ll be in Tunica placing some bets…

My dad woke up at 3am and drove 2 hours from Selmer to see us run! I ate oatmeal and Bobby had a banana for breakfast. We headed out at 6:15am in separate cars since Bobby and I planned to have fun downtown all day long after the race (I laugh at this impossible idea now). Parked at Parking Can Be Fun, one of our favorite garages and headed to Autozone Park for bag check. I kept a hand warmer out while we walked down Fourth Street to see our corrals, the start line and stay warm in the FedExForum. Bobby discovered the idea of waiting in the FedExForum last year as he was waiting around for the marathon to start in the 28 degrees weather. In the Forum we met up with Yu, Patrick, Beth and Virgina. Used the nice restrooms (no porta-potties for us!) and at 7:45 we headed to our corrals. Bobby and Patrick were pretty much on the start line while the rest of us meeted and greeted our way back to the back. I saw lots of running friends and even the Russells from my church back home!

First half
Mile 4 we ran by my building at St. Jude and my manager Leigh snapped a photo of me. The Hashers offered me a beer at mile 7, but I was too nervous to risk anything! Loved the YMCA dancing group outside the Memphis College of Art at Mile 9 – just what was needed after the boredom of Overton Park (sorry trees). The first 13.1 was going by fast. Oh, and just a tip to spectators: Not everyone is running the half. Don’t yell out, “You’re almost done!” at mile 12. Beth, Yu and I had fun saying, “No we are not!”. My first half pace was around 9:30 – 10 minute miles.

Second half
Everything went well until a little past mile 13. Then the ghosts of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins jumped out Sun Studios as we ran by and stabbed me in the stomach with a knife…or at least that is what it felt like. I hadn’t had a cramp like that in a long time! I had to walk for a minute and my stomach wasn’t 100% for the rest of the race, though at least no dead musicians stabbed me again. Mile 13-16 were my hardest. I got so sleepy running down Peabody. I found myself thinking, “I could just curl up under that tree on the sidewalk right now and take a nap”. I began to wonder why I had registered for this race; I lost pace. Beth kept it up though and she pushed on. Seeing BR as well as Ron and Beth’s kids in their Suburban were some great moments on Peabody. As Yu and I got into Cooper Young at mile 17 the crowds made me feel better, and I realized that we were down to single digit miles left now. Second wind – You can make it now! But Yu was feeling a bit nauseous, and she decided to walk a bit. So from 19 onwards I was on my own. I would stop every mile, then forced myself to only every 2 miles for water stop/walk breaks. Seeing the Hashers again at mile 22 was a great pick-me-up. Luckily, no muscle soreness except for a tiny bit of upper foot pain and a little shoulder stiffness. Just a little stomach cramps. I was thinking, “There’ no way I’m making 4:45 and I do not even care if I make 5 hours!”. My pace for this second half was 11 – 12 minute miles.

That last mile was so long – what the heck – was there some kind of infinite loop portal I was unaware of? But once I got to mile 26 I picked up the speed from 12:00 to 8:00 and “sprinted” in. I had some energy left in me for sure. Crossed the first pad in the stadium and heard my named called – the best! It felt great to finish: 4:57. As I walked up the stairs I thought I would cry like at the Germantown Half, but by the time I got the top I was good. And Beth and Ron were there at the top – she wasn’t too far ahead of me. Just a few minutes later Yu finished: 4:59 – just in time! Tried eat pizza and drink a beer in the free food area, but after a couple bites I didn’t feel too good. Bobby also told me how he got ill after the race, and I think it scared me. But after a visit to the restroom and a change of clothes, I got my appetite back. It was so nice to rinse off my face – I could have filled a salt shaker with my saltiness! Dad, Bobby, me, Patrick and Yu all went to Rio Loco for some lunch. Afterwards Dad headed back to Selmer, and Bobby and I went home to spend the rest of the day on the couch.

Next time
What am I thinking about doing differently next time?

  • More medium distance (5-8 miles) runs during the week in increase speed and stamina.
  • No Gu packs with caffeine (Yu said they upset her stomach before so that could have been what upset mine – worth a shot)
  • No PowerAde (I usually don’t drink it while running and that is something I did different – could have caused cramps, who knows?)
  • Water at mile 3, then only every 2 miles (I was drinking too often at some points, slowing me down. I might adjust this if it is hot)
  • Gu at mile 5, 10, 15 and 20

2 thoughts on “St. Jude Marathon Report”

  1. Bethany, Congratulations! I am so glad you pulled through when you had those tough miles of 13 through 16 and continued on and even sprinted in on the final mile! I bet you were saying "Damn, it feels good to be me!" when you crossed that finish line. Totally Awesome, girl!

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