I told you in my last post I had a lot to talk about! This isn’t even the last big event that I have on the writing agenda, but I will get there. Since I am still riding my marathon high, I best reflect. The Saturday before last, I ran my third marathon, the St. Jude Memphis Marathon. I had run the half here once before, so I had an idea of what to expect. If you have never run this race, I highly recommend it. The course takes you right through St. Jude’s campus and there is nothing like it. I’d like to meet the person who can run this mile of the course and not get all the feels. They’d have to be made of stone. If you haven’t run this race, you should add it to your bucket list. All the proceeds go to St. Jude, which everyone knows is fantastic organization.
Back to the marathon walk through. As this is my third marathon, I feel I had learned some lessons from before and had my pre-race prep down. For example, I have a terrible nervous stomach and in past marathon’s I would do the typical carbo-load of night before spaghetti, but not this time. This time I made a simple meal my family eats on the regular, baked salmon, white rice, and sauteed zucchini and squash. It was easy to digest and a good mix of veggies, carbs, good fats, and protein. I also had a glass of red wine to help calm my nerves so I could get some sleep.
Before bed, I did my pre-race gear check. Here is the list of gear I used for this marathon. I linked to Amazon so you can see exactly what I used but I am not affiliated with any of these brands, but if you buy from the Amazon link I get a slight kick back.
- Favorite Hat from the New Orleans Marathon
- Under Armour Fly-By Shorts
- Champion Marathon Sports Bra
- Injini Socks
- New Balance Shoes (I just switched to NB. I wish they used names and not numbers. I can never remember the style.)
- ZenToes Gel Caps for my Funky Toes
- Flip Belt
- After Shokz Trek Titanium Headphones
- Compression Leg Sleeves (I bought these at an expo a few years back and have no idea what brand they are.)
- Tailwind Nutrition Green Tea Buzz Flavor
- Nathan Handheld Water Bottle (I have an older model)
- Old Hoodie, Pajama Pants, and Socks to wear before the race. (I use the socks as gloves for a couple miles then throw them away.)
- A new hair-tie gotta make sure it’s good and tight
I believe that’s my whole gear list. Some of these products I love and some I are just whatever. I don’t think of myself as a brand loyalist, so some I could interchange. When it comes to choosing what I wear for the marathon I pick out all my favorites and make sure they’re clean for the big day. Maybe one day, I’ll do a “products I’m loving” post.
After gear check, I schedule my Uber and head to bed. It’s marathon day! Although my alarm was set for 5am, I’ve been basically awake since 4:30. Oh, race day jitters! I always start my race morning by washing my face and getting dressed which includes 5 minutes of applying Glide and getting my toes in my shoes just right. Seriously, this toe thing is a process! My breakfast includes a glass of water, coffee with milk, two pieces of toast with almond butter, and a disgusting banana! I HATE bananas! Seriously, I only force myself to eat the terrible things on big race mornings. Once I eat, I fix my water bottle with an electrolyte drink to sip until the start line prior to mixing my race fuel, which was Tailwind Nutrition this go. I used Skratch Labs as my pre-race electrolyte this time. I liked it, but I still prefer Nuun. I also foam rolled until my Uber picked me up.
My brother-in-law was also running the marathon. This was a great treat, because I had a buddy to hang out with, and he also ran with me for most of the race. Got to the race in plenty of time to use the bathroom 3 times. Honestly, I could go to the bathroom as many times as I had time for. I have two complaints about this race. The first is the start line. They didn’t assign corrals, which was a terrible idea. People were all over the place. Seriously, there were people who crossed the start line already walking with the 4-hour pace group! They also didn’t give a map of where the corrals would be from the start line, so you had to backtrack to get to your corral. It was just chaos. Because of this, my first mile was about a minute off my pace. You also start downtown and the streets are narrow, but after the first mile when you turn off Beale Street the crowd starts spread out.
The first 5k winds through downtown and down Riverside Drive. My second complaint is at mile 4 this year they combined us with the 5k. Again, chaos! All of a sudden there was a hoard of people running all sorts of speeds in the middle of the half and full marathons. This again slowed down the pace because you were trying to dodge folks and not get run over at the same time. These simple problems were quickly forgotten at mile 5 when we entered the St Jude campus. During this mile stretch, I ran the whole way with a smiley teary-eyed expression on my face. If you’re not a high-fiver, this is the place to let all that go. These are the greatest high fives you’ll ever get.
Once through the campus, the pack really starts to spread out a bit. It’s here that I remind myself that my plan was to take it easy the first 10 miles and keep track of my hydration and nutrition. This stretch of the marathon heads up the Parkway to Poplar Ave to Midtown, where you will spend the next 22 miles. My brother-in-law said he had to go to the bathroom back at like mile 3, and he kept talking about it but was determined to hold it. Around mile 6 with all the bathroom talk, I started feeling like I needed to go to, Ugh!. At mile 8, we saw a group of porta-potties with no wait so we decided to just go. Oh man, was that a good idea! I felt so much better! Back to running! We saw our family at the Cooper Ave turn onto Madison. Nothing like hugs and cheers to put a smile on your face for the next 7 miles until we saw them again.
I made it to the 10-mile mark feeling good and continued on pace. A little after the half, the “work the second 10” approach started to become prevalent. I still felt really good, but I could feel myself getting tired and my form starting to slip. From here until mile 20, my goal became centered on running form. Since I haven’t really bragged about Tailwind Nutrition yet, let me just tell you this stuff is amazing! I can’t say enough good things about it. Thank you, dude, at Fleet Feet for encouraging me to try it, because I don’t know if I will ever use anything else ever again! Enough kudos, back to the race. Miles 13 through16 of the course was beautiful. The path through Rhodes College and then this cute little neighborhood followed by Overton Park. It always makes me happy when races don’t jip those running the full. Sometimes I feel like races get lazy with the second half of the course but not this one.
It was around mile 16.5 that I began to lose my brother-in-law. We both knew this was bound to happen as I had trained a lot harder, and we had agreed to just let it happen when it was time. I saw my family for the second time at mile 17, and got a few quick baby hugs from Chicken and was on my way yet again. Now alone without my brother-in-law to distract from the fatigue in my legs, I had to turn my attention back to my form and my plan to work the second 10. Before the race, my husband said he would see for the last time at 19.5. I didn’t see them and thought that maybe they weren’t able to make the close meetups. This got me a little down, but luckily this was also on my old street in Cooper-Young. Instead of concentrating on the missed meeting and letting it depress me, I decided to check out the street and observe the changes to my old home over the past year. Luckily that was all the distraction I needed, cause when I rounded the corner at mile 20, there they were! This time Chicken ran alongside me. Seriously, it was adorable! This was exactly what I needed to move into the last phase of my race plan. Empty the tank and run until the wheels fall off for the last 10k!
At the next water stop, I refilled my bottle and poured in another serving of tailwind. I had also saved my music for this stretch too. So turned on my headphones and pushed shuffle on the playlist. China Grove came on and kicked off the trip downtown to the finish line. I’m telling you, I felt great! I ran a negative split and put everything out there. That last mile I turned it up and gave it everything I had and because of that, the turn into the shoot felt amazing! I have never been so amped at the end of a race! I finished 3 minutes under my goal at 4:17! Just writing this is getting me excited. I might just go register for another one. 3:59, here I come!
After the race, we went out for my fav post-race meal, a big, fat cheeseburger and a cold beer!