Thursday, December 8, 2011

St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon Recap

This past weekend, three of my bests and I rendezvoused in Memphis to complete the St. Jude Half Marathon.  The twins, Julianne and Alyssa, flew into Nashville Friday where we grabbed some quick lunch and made the drive west.  We arrived and quickly headed to check out the expo.  Luckily our local friend, Erin had braved the crowds and picked up our bibs and shirts earlier in the day.  The expo was less than exciting so we left in favor of a very delicious dinner of homemade pizza and pasta.  {my favorite part of half marathons is a tie between tapering and carb loading}  The girls got to work creating our race shirts while the boys sneakily made some race-support posters.  It was a fun night and we tucked ourselves into bed early in preparation for Saturday.

how cute are we?
Saturday morning, we woke up early, prepped ourselves with much needed breakfast and caffeine and excitedly saw the temperature was much higher than we initially expected (upper 40s, lower 50s).  We got dressed in our new shirts and took a few pre-race pictures before the boys dropped us off near the start line. 

signs of support
Luckily, I rescued some old shirts from Mike's Goodwill pile to keep us warm until the start!

stylin but warm

The time passed quickly as we waited.  A little girl from St. Jude sang the national anthem and left everyone in tears.  Suddenly, my knee pain that had kept me away from running for the last 2 weeks seemed like a minor battle.  I realized this race was for something more important than a personal accomplishment- we were here to run for a reason much bigger than ourselves.  From that point on, I was determined to keep that fact in mind and get past whatever pain I might experience. 

The four of us lined up together and cheered as we crossed the start line as a group.  We stuck together for the first mile before E and I wished J&A luck and sent them on their speedy way.  The first few miles were exciting as we ran along the Mississippi River, by the pyramid, and up the infamous Beale street. 
twin sighting!
At mile 5 we ran through the St. Jude campus.  The crowds along this stretch were beyond amazing.  Hundreds of patients, families, and others were lining the roads with cowbells, yells, and signs that said thank you. There were so many pictures of tiny patients held by families thanking us for helping to save their lives.  The cheers were almost deafening and my tears were unavoidable.  As we ran past the last of this crowd, I told Erin that that was easily the best mile I've ever run. 

The course calmed down a bit after that as we ran along tree-lined streets with adorable old southern houses.  It was around mile 6 my knee pain reared its ugly head.  I slowed briefly to rub some numbing creme and crossed my fingers.  Before I knew it we saw the boys for the first time and got to see their sign creations.  I was super impressed by their awesomeness!  So fun!  I stole a bag of delicious orange slices (best race food ever) and some water and took off again. {Many thanks to M&P for their support... nothing like seeing a friendly face for support when you're exhausted}

I saw a sign that said "Keep running, blisters never need chemo" and the message stuck with me for the next 6-7 miles.  My knee pain was off and on for the rest of the race and Erin joined the knee problem club somewhere along the way.  Miles 8-10 were through Overton Park- a landmark I know as the place my running partner was engaged!  The roads were definitely not my favorite as they had little fan support and were pretty uneven.  These miles are usually the toughest for me mentally as I have lost my initial enthusiasm and am still too far from the end to get excited about it. 

there was a HUGE team for a little boy named Jake... we saw tons of shirts and signs.  funny coincidence!
As soon as we exited the park, we found the boys for a second time.  We didn't slow too much this time (at this point stopping makes it way too hard to get going again!) but gave them a thumbs up and kept on going.  E hit her "wall" around this time (I think the comments were along the lines of "I'm going to die" on repeat).  I've been there many, many times and it helped me to ignore my own feelings of I'm going to die self doubt as I focused on promising her it would get better (total lies... hope she forgives me!).

only a 5k to go

The last two miles went quickly and before I knew it I was crossing onto the track made of... GRAVEL.  Really?  Who thinks it's a good idea to put slippery rocks for the last 0.1 of the 13.1?  Terrible idea.  I struggled to stay upright for the last little bit and lost Erin (by 8 seconds!) crossing the finish at 2:03.  I was SO happy to give Erin a giant hug and get our medals together.  The twins (with an awesome finish time of 1:46) quickly found us and we had our mini YAY moments before Alyssa (yay for her first half too!) smartly whisked us off to the medic booth for some much needed ice.  We met up with the boys for some congratulatory hugs and pictures and headed home for warmth, snacks, and showers.  The rest of our weekend in Memphis was very fun and full of trying to replenish the calories we burned (plus a few more) but I'll have to steal pics from someone else to share.
Running St. Jude was so much fun.  I cannot recommend this race enough to any runners out there.  I am absolutely looking forward to Dec 1 2012.  The course is a good one- scenic with enough rolling hills to be a little challenging.  The race support is amazing.  And the cause is one of the greatest reasons you could possibly find to run for (even if I am a little biased by my love for St. Jude). 

love you girls!
I've now run two halves with my husband, one by myself, and one with my best friends.  I went into that morning wondering if my knee would hold up for a whole mile and ended up running a strong race and finishing with a time I'm proud of.  Plus, I got to accompany a great friend on her first half and celebrate with two more.  Sappy, huh? I guess this race got to my emotions a little...  I'm now listening to my legs and taking a mini break from running and racing (though my sanity may hate me for it) but as every race does, this one pulled me back in to racing and left me with a desire for another 13.1...

showing off our support signs


  1. omg best race recap ever! you had me re-living everything from the national anthem to that darn gravel. what an awesome race experience. i love you!! <3

  2. love this post!! i would run it next year too but i'll probably do the philadelphia half.

  3. Finally found some time to read this... you have me teary eyed!! Congrats to all 4 of you for running and finishing strong! :) Thank you for supporting St. Jude! I'm so glad you were able to go, see the campus and all the patients and families. St. Jude has my heart too! Maybe you can count me in for next year?! ;)

    Merry Christmas! xo