Monday, December 27, 2010

St. Jude Marathon

Our weekend in Memphis started out on Friday morning. The Pattersons and Igos loaded up and headed out of town around 10:00. We wanted to have time to get there, enjoy the Race Expo, eat a good dinner, and then get in the bed! We had so much fun picking up our race numbers and exploring all the booths at the expo. Amy and I found great race jackets in the St. Jude booth, gummies (because I left mine at home L), and even 26.2 tattoos. Yes, tattoos. I jokingly told Craig while training for the race, that after the marathon I was getting 26.2 tattooed somewhere on me. He wasn’t very excited. . . but I WAS joking! Amy and I felt like the temporary tattoos would give us that extra little bit of inspiration needed to get to the finish line. I think they worked!

We decided to eat dinner at the Spaghetti Warehouse. It was ONLY a few blocks from our hotel, according to the guy at the front desk. A few blocks into our walk, we realized it was a little more than a few blocks away, and we weren’t exactly in the most populated area of downtown Memphis. Needless to say, we took a different route back to the hotel. Dinner was great, even though the waitress was a little weird. I enjoyed my pasta, although my nerves were making it hard for me to get it down. On the way home, we wandered around Beal Street and through the Peabody Hotel before ending up back at our room.

The night flew by and before I knew it, the alarm clock was telling me it was time to get up. My stomach immediately started turning flips. After getting dressed, we headed downstairs to eat breakfast and ran into Kescha Lamb, my co-worker, who was running the half. I was so excited to see her and she sat down to eat breakfast with Amy and me.

Before I knew it, it was time to head to the start. Amy and I found our corral and ended up right next to Mr. James, our team captain. He has run the marathon and half several times and this year he was running the half. Robert and Craig followed us as the race started in waves, taking pictures and waving. They planned out where they would meet us, so we knew we’d be seeing them along the race route.

As soon as our corral started, my nerves were gone. I was ready to knock out 26.2 miles. The weather was cold, but not too cold, it was overcast, and the crowd was excited. We saw our sweet husbands at mile 3, which looped right outside our hotel, and then waved goodbye. We’d be seeing them again at 13.1.

The first 13 miles seemed like a breeze. We laughed at the funny signs, commented on the sweet, inspirational shirts from the St. Jude supporters, cried through the St. Jude campus, and sang along with the Elvis impersonators. I think we heard the song “Walking in Memphis” about 100 times, but it never got old! We ran through the back of the Memphis Zoo, down by the river, and down Beale Street. Amy’s parents saw us around mile 7 or 8 and cheered us on.

When we got to the point in the race where the half marathoners turned off, I still felt good and excited. Amy and I soon realized that after that point, there was no turning back. Thank goodness for Robert and Craig. They were waiting just past the turn off at the 13.1 mile marker. For a few minutes, they ran along with us, took a few pictures, and then headed off the next meeting point. It was crazy how much the crowd thinned at this point in the race. We went from running side by side, to it being just the two of us with a few folks in front and behind us. Amy and I got a good laugh from a guy we passed about 13.5 or so. We were heading up a hill, so we decided to slow up a little bit. He was walking and huffed, “Are ya’ll worn out too?” He did not look good. I wanted to say, buddy, you might have wanted to turn off back there, you’ve got a long ways to go to be worn out now! I hope he made it ok.

Fast forward to mile 17. Robert and Craig met us again with signs and cheering. We saw Amy’s parents just a little while after that, and then I had a panic attack. Well, not really a panic attack, but a moment of fear when I realized that we were 17 miles in, and still had 9 miles to go. I wondered what had possessed me to tackle this distance. I wondered if I could do. At this point, everything hurt- my legs, my knees, my arms, my shoulders, and my head from the lack of caffeine. I had to fight back the tears and couldn’t talk to Amy for a minute. I told myself that I could do it, it WAS possible, and I swallowed the tears. I felt better and ready to finish. After my slight breakdown, Amy started not feeling well. Thinking back, she thinks the Tylenol taken at mile 17 on a pretty empty stomach is to blame for this. Robert and Craig saw us at mile 21 and noticed she didn’t look so good. She held it together until they left us, and then let it all out. Literally. I didn’t really know what to do, or if I could do anything. A friendly fellow running by saw her behind the tree, and gave me a pack of sport beans for her. He said it would help replenish her carbs. I popped on in my mouth while I waited- ew. I’m not a big fan. Amy was able to down a few of them. We caught up with the friendly guy, and she gave back the rest of the pack. What a champ. After getting sick, she picked back up with the running. Her stomach wasn’t too happy with her, so the last 5 miles for us were slow and go. When we saw the 5 hour pacer, we had a moment of hope for a minute. We stayed with him for a while, and then slowly fell behind. It was disappointing, but at that point, beyond our control. The last few miles, I was worried about Amy. It was clear she did not feel well at all, but she was determined to get the finish line. I tried to keep us focused on the short distance we had left to go. FINALLY, we came to the 26 mile marker. Hallelujah! Only .2 to go. Never mind the fact that it was up a ramp into AutoZone Park. We took off with a burst of energy from who knows where. Seeing that finish line was emotional. We started saying “we did it!” and ran across the finish line with our arms around each other. I am very thankful for Amy. I could not have made that 26.2-mile journey with out her, and that includes training and the race. We started out our training as girls who both like to run, and ended the journey as friends with a special bond. There were times I had no desire to get out there and train, there were times in the race when I felt the same way, but because I had a friend with me, I knew I could do it.

We celebrated at the finish line with our medals and pictures. We finished in 5:15. WE DID IT!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Journey to 26.2

If you had told me even a year ago that I would be running 26.2 miles, I would have laughed in your face. Last year, I ran two half marathons and thought I had reached the max. Who would want to run more than that??

Well, in January, Amy asked me if I wanted to run the Country Music Marathon. Um, NO, was my first reaction. But. . . I like to push myself, and I like to challenge myself, and I really liked running, so the no, turned into yes.

We began training for the April race. It was hard and time consuming, and required some serious dedication, but I was loving it. The training program we were using required us to run 20 miles for the longest run and that haunted me from the day we started training.

Finally, that day rolled around and 13 miles into the run I knew something was wrong. A pain shot up through my ankle and it wasn’t leaving. I still remember the exact spot I stopped on Hughes Road and told Amy that something was wrong. I sat down and rested for a minute and then said “Let’s go. I am finishing this run.” Five miles later, the pain was unbearable and I had to stop. Something was not right.

A trip to TOC later in the week (thanks Shannon Brown for getting me in so quick!) and an MRI showed that I was right, something was wrong. It wasn’t fractured, just a stress reaction. The prescription? No running. WHAT?! The marathon was 4 weeks away. Talk about crushing.

Amy still ran the Country Music Marathon, but because of weather, was cut off at mile 20. Again, talk about crushing.

So, fast-forward to August. We decide to go for it again. We picked back up on the 18-week training program with the St. Jude Marathon as our goal.

We ran, and ran, and ran. In the dark, in the cold, in the rain, in the heat and humidity. A shout out to Wal-Mart, CVS, Quiznos, Kroger, Discovery, and others for allowing us to use their restrooms on long runs. We joked that Quiznos should be our sponsors. The owner was so kind and encouraging and always let us refill our water bottles when needed! It was hard and at times I wasn’t sure I could do it. Saturdays were dedicated to long runs. Between grad school, running and work, I felt like I didn’t have much of a social life. Thank goodness I had a great running partner who like to talk as much as I do.

My ankle was much more agreeable this time around. Craig was helpful, to the point of being annoying :) , to remind me to take my vitamins and calcium and anti-inflammatory from the doc.

The 20 miler came around and we decided to run the Huntsville Half marathon and just add 6 more. I was nervous. During that week we ran 40 miles total. The 20-mile run turned out to be great. It was hot that day, but we did it! And my ankle held up great.

It was all-downhill from there as far as mileage. As the race neared I was nervous, but ready. I had a hard time wrapping my brain around 26.2. It seemed like there were so many unknowns- what if it rained, what if it was really hot or really cold, what if I got hurt, what if . . .

Abby started running with about a month before the race and that helped too. We met in the mornings 2 days a week. It made me look forward to those early mornings and made getting up so early not so bad.

Before we knew it, the 18 weeks was up and it was time for the race. Memphis here we come!!

Marathon Post Coming Soon! :)