St. Jude Memphis Marathon Registration Open

The St. Jude Memphis Marathon has already opened registration for this year’s race on Saturday, December 3, 2011!

The half marathon sold out way ahead of time last year (some time in the summer, I think?). Then the marathon sold out in the fall. Even the 5k sold out in November! So register now.

Fees until August 1 (note they have not increased, but last year these prices were good until September 1):

  • Marathon: $85
  • Half: $60
  • 5k: $30
  • Family Race (Parent): $15
  • Family Race (Child): $10

Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson Marathon 2011
Bethany and Bobby

Andrew Jackson was one tough son of a gun – And I firmly believe you had to be one tough son of a gun to run the Andrew Jackson Half Marathon on Saturday, April 9 (and double tough to run the full).

With dreams of the wonderful Germantown Half dancing in my head, our friends Ron and Beth treated us to Coletta’s to carbo load the night before (my 29th birthday!). Coletta’s was a favorite of the King, and Bobby and I had never been. The garlic bread with cheese was amazing: It was $1.75 for 2 giant pieces slathered in garlic and cheese! We ordered tons of it. Beth’s lasagna came in a steel crock pot thing – I had never seen it like that. Our Round The World pizza was pretty good (Ron said the BBQ pizza was great too). I loved the retro 50’s artwork on the menu. There was also a menu on the wall from the 70’s when Elvis visited the restaurant – Lasagna was $2, drinks were 20 cents, no alcohol was served and no large sizes were available.

We woke up Saturday morning at 4:30am and left the house at 5:00am. I should have gotten up earlier because I didn’t get a chance to eat breakfast or really use the restroom – Strike 1.

Got to Jackson by 6:30am. We both ate a Gu for our breakfast, but I could tell it was not very satisfying for me (why didn’t I get up earlier and eat some oatmeal, why?). At packet pickup – guess what – They ran out of small shirts! Well, it was a white shirt anyway, but it was a tech shirt with a fairly good logo so I was kind of bummed.

Bobby’s race (the full) started at 7:00am, and I cheered the marathoners off. This was a small, country, low-key race. The race director reminded everyone, “Look for the signs for when to turn. If the signs have been stolen, look for the white painted arrows on the street. They can’t steal paint“. LOL

My race (the half) started at 7:30am. Right off the bat – stomach cramp. That is a bad sign right there. It stayed with me for a mile or 2, but wasn’t killer. It was after a couple miles I realized, “Hey, this is a pretty hilly course!”. I just assumed it would be like flat Germantown again. I know Jackson pretty well and never noticed all these non-stop, rolling hills in a car – Strike 2.

Andrew Jackson Marathon 2011
Bobby goes insane after winning 3rd overall

First 6 miles were pretty good. My niece Shelby even drove by at mile 5 and cheered – that was great! But it sure was hot and windy. And while there were more spectators than Tupelo, it was the longest I’d ever run by myself, and I couldn’t find anyone to chat with. The second half really dragged (would these hills ever stop?). By the end, it felt like I had run a  whole marathon! But Shelby was there again to cheer as I finished at 2:28 (Over 20 minutes longer than Germantown 2 weeks ago – argh).

We overheard some folks and found out that no full marathoners had come in yet. After 3 hours passed I was surprised no marathoners were in yet, but it was a small race and a testament to the heat and hills. 3:13 finally saw the winner, 3:21 saw Harry “Birdlegs” from Memphis and 3:27 saw Bobby, 3rd overall (and 1st in age group)!

We stayed for the half awards (I got nothing; I figured I wouldn’t). We tried to stay for the full awards, but they were taking a really long time! So we picked up Bobby’s trophy and headed back to Memphis to eat some leftover Coletta’s pizza and watch Netflix.

You take the good
You take the bad

You take them both
And there you have

The Andrew Jack
The Andrew Jack

Little Rockin’ It

Little Rock MarathonIs there a better way to start the March marathon season than your first ever Shamrock Shake? I didn’t think so. (Note: I think these are just vanilla shakes with 2 dabs of green food coloring; I was disappointed to not taste anything different.)

Beth and Ron picked us up in their giant suburban Saturday, March 5, and we drove to Little Rock (with the aforementioned McDonald’s stop). A quick stop at Ron and Beth’s hotel, and it was on to the expo!

The expo was about the same size at St. Jude’s. Bobby bumped into his running buddies David and Richard who were pacing the 3:35 group. They regaled Bobby with the perks of being a pacer: race fee wavered, free admittance to VIP areas, free hotel room, free neon yellow PACER shirt and best of all – a small sign on a dowel rod. I had actually always wondered if those pacer signs were heavy, and I was allowed to hold it. It was surprisingly light and the pacers said it had never given them a neck or shoulder cramp during a race.

Where were Bobby, Michelle and I staying in Little Rock? The Governor’s Mansion, of course! The governor is Michelle’s dad’s cousin (practically a brother; they grew up very close). We got a tour of the place from Mike and Ginger. Michelle stayed in a guest room and Bobby and I stayed in a 1 bedroom, 1 bath guest house outside.

We stuck with tradition and ate at Olive Garden again for a pre-race dinner. It was packed.

Little Rock MarathonThe race was Sunday, March 6 at 8:00am. It was a little colder and cloudier at the beginning (30’s and 40’s) than we all expected. I had luckily brought a throw away hoodie to keep warm, and Bobby wore a new toboggan he had bought at the expo. We saw Katherine while waiting inside a crowded restaurant near the start. This race is definitely smaller than St. Jude or a Rock and Roll Series. There were 4 corrals, but after the wheelchair start we were all off!

At this race you could put your name on your bib. It was a great touch and total strangers would yell your name out during the race. Bobby decided to be funny and put “Roberto” on his. If we go again I’m going to think of a funny name.

The first half had zero hills. I had thrown off my hoodie by mile 4. We grabbed some Mardi Gras beads a church was handing out near mile 12. It was at mile 13 I saw a young guy in dark dress pants, suspenders and black dress shoes running the whole marathon. That would be tough (and he finished too not far after me).

The crowd support in Little Rock was the best I’ve ever seen – it was like the whole city was out. People were cheering and giving away free food and drinks the whole race course (Krispy Kreme doughnuts, oranges, frozen margaritas, Sprite, beer, candy, etc).

Missy and Billy were waiting at the top of a big hill around mile 16 (in the “Midtown” of Little Rock) with a sign saying, “Go Memphis Runners!”. Missy ran a couple miles with us and chatted with us the whole time – that was such a boost.

The down and back (miles 18-23) was flat, but tough. The sun came out, and it was getting hot and Beth’s knee was hurting a lot too. Here we saw a solider in full uniform with backpack jogging/walking the marathon – wow! We were hurting, but getting close to the end now…

Little Rock MarathonI passed on the “lipstick stop” at mile 25 where they gave away lipgloss so the marathoners could look good for their finish line photo, and the beer stop right before that. I shouldn’t have!

Michelle set a new personal record in the half marathon at 2 hours and 22 minutes! Bobby also had a new personal record for the marathon at 3 hours and 13 minutes. He had started with his buddies in the 3:35 group, but just kept working his way up. He came in 50th overall for the entire marathon (out of 1,814 marathoners)! He was even handed an embossed card inviting him to visit the Capitol Building on a weekday to receive a special gift from the Secretary of Arkansas.

I finished at 5 hours and 9 minutes (A little longer than at St. Jude, but I felt a lot better at the end of this race). My running buddy Beth was not far behind at 5:21.

Beth said, “Never again,” but I have to say, it was the best race I’ve had so far, and I’d do it next year!

Little Rock Marathon Medal Unveiled

I almost forgot that I hadn’t posted the unveiling of the Little Rock Marathon medal! It looks fantastic. I love the Grecian border and font on the thick gold ribbon. The addition of the spinner this year is amazing – It even convinced a friend to register at the last minute. It is, “Just as big as last years if not bigger.”

View the medal presentation on YouTube

The YouTube the video it pretty amusing – The parks and rec department in Little Rock seems straight out, well, the show Parks and Recreation. Very amateur and folksy…but passionate about their race.

Little Rock Marathon registration

If you want to register – Good luck! Half marathon is completely full now and only 20 spots left in the full marathon as of this morning. There is a marathon relay and 5k available as well.

NOLA Bound

All my Gus are packed
I’m ready to go…

Well, I’m not totally packed yet and I have Cliff Shots too, so that song isn’t totally accurate. But I am ready for the New Orleans Half Marathon this Sunday morning at 7:00am! Weather report says low of 45, high of 60 and sunny. Much better than the Snowpocalypse we are having here in Memphis.

My plan is to do 5 miles at the Midtown Breakaway group run tonight. It will be my first run since last Saturday’s 18 miles! Bobby hasn’t run all week. But he has swam and worked out some. He is trying to recreate the awesomeness of the Tupelo Marathon *knock on wood*

Is Everything Bigger in Texas?

Courtesy of

The Texas Marathon in Kingwood, TX may be threatening to usurp Little Rock’s title as “Largest Marathon Finisher’s Medal in the World”.

This small race, held on January 1, 2011 had only 650 runners. They have long been known for giving out a really big medal (last year’s was 2.2lbs). But I have heard this year’s was nearly 3.5lbs and the largest in the world so far!

You can see the evolution of their medal over the years at

Little Rock – Don’t let this po-dunk Texas town take your title! This year’s Little Rock Marathon medal had better be the biggest.

I’ll never complain about the COLD again!

“I’ll never complain about the COLD again!”
(Part 2 of my post from yesterday…)

In response to the Antarctic Ice Marathon, a coworker sent me a link to The Marathon Des Sables. This is a 6-day, 151-mile endurance race across the Sahara Desert in Morocco each March/April. That’s equivalent to 5 and a half marathons! In addition to that, competitors have to carry everything they will need for the race (food, clothes, medical kit, sleeping bag, etc, everything except for a tent) in a backpack while they run. Water is rationed and handed out at each checkpoint. Cost to participate is 3,200 Pounds ($4,962.56 American).

2011’s 235 race spots are already taken – sorry, I know you wanted to go. And guess what? The wait list for 2012 (which opened in 2009) is also already full! Who knew getting sand in your shoes was so popular?

I’ll never complain about the heat again!

“I’ll never complain about the heat again!”

This is what Bobby says now that the weather is cold again. And it will get colder before March.

But at least it isn’t as cold in Memphis as it was for the runners in the Antarctic Ice Marathon a few days ago. This race is run during the height of Antarctica’s “summer”. 37 participants ran over ice and snow. The wind chill is -20 Celsius (-4 Fahrenheit!). The altitude is 3,000 feet, so not quite a mile high like the Denver Marathon (5,280 feet). Winds blow at 10-25 knots (12 – 28 miles per hour).

Don’t expect a PR here. The course record is 4:20:31. Still faster than I could probably ever run and they are doing it in -4 degree winds.

For only 9,900 Euros ($12,984.84 American) you too can take part in this race and never complain about the heat again! (Yes, that amount includes some air fare, lodging and food in Antarctica)

PS: If the idea of a marathon in Antarctica isn’t enough for you, they offer a 100k (62 miles) race too. Whaaaa?! *Head explodes*

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

Is it bad…

Is is bad that I bought brand new shirt specifically to wear for the race a month ago…and then replaced it just Wednesday when Bobby and I went on a taper madness shopping spree? But, THIS IS THE MOST AWESOME SHIRT EVER! It is a gorgeous shade of purple with a metallic gold nike logo (not that I’m all about brands, but it is shiny), long, the softest thing ever, and (the best part) has extra long sleeves with these little thumb slits for your…thumbs! Only problem is it hasn’t been field tested like my other shirt. It could burst into flames at mile 5 – who knows?
PS: I also bought new dri-fit, super soft, running-specific gloves. They have tiny pockets for a car key or whatever else tiny thing you could fit in there (Exactly one Sport Bean, perhaps?).

Is is bad that I have had my entire marathon outfit laid out on the guest bed since Wednesday night?

Is it bad I had a nightmare/dream about the race last night? I was running in the marathon with my girls (even Keshia was there, who isn’t actually running in the marathon). We were doing great and having fun. We were running through buildings and up staircases and were thinking, “Hmmm, this is a strange marathon course”. We were at mile 8 when Bobby appeared and said, “Listen, I’ve been done for awhile, and I’m bored and ready to go home, so let’s leave”. And then he grabbed my hand and made me leave without finishing! I was reaching out to the girls as they ran away on the course saying, “Noooooo!”. LOL – It was so ridiculous.
I think I had that dream due to my great fear of not being able to find my friends in the pace group marathon morning and having to run the entire race by myself – That would not be fun. I’ve had to run Road Race Series races by myself before because I got there late so it is not that crazy!

Is it bad that not long a ago (6 months?) the idea of an 8 mile run would have filled me with worry and dread. Yet last Saturday I found myself saying, “Yay, just an easy, short 8 mile run today!”. And it was an easy, short 8 mile run. My world has turned upside down.