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St. Jude Half Marathon

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Well, we survived the move! And now, as promised and only a week and a half late. . .  DRUMROLL. . . my St. Jude’s Half Marathon recap!

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I left work at noon on Friday and drove down to Fort Smith to meet up with Josh & Alex. The three of us drove to Little Rock, where Josh hopped in with Jacob (who was down there for a sales meeting). The two cars then made the boring trip from Little Rock to Memphis. In total, it was around 6 hours of sitting in a car for me that day. Not the best way to prepare your legs for a race. We spent the night at Alex’s aunt’s house just outside of Memphis (actually in Mississippi-who knew Mississippi was 15 minutes away from Memphis?).

Saturday morning we were up early to head to the race. We took separate cars since Jacob and I had to drive to Little Rock immediately after the race for my sister-in-law’s baby shower. I was actually more nervous about the logistics of the day and making it back to Little Rock in time than I was about the race. Despite some traffic complications, Alex and I found each other and made it to  the race start with plenty of time to spare.

alex_jessi_memphis

It was misty and in the 40s, but we were lucky weather-wise. The last two years the temperatures for the race were in the 20s! NO THANK YOU.

jessi_memphis

Getting excited

alex_memphis

It was a huge race with around 17,000 runners. We lined up in Corral 10 (they had 15!) and quickly realized that we wouldn’t even start until 8:20 which basically meant I would have to sprint to the car after the race just to make it to the Little Rock in time for the shower at 3. Cue panic attack.

crowd_memphis

There wasn’t anything I could do about it, though, except finish the race and let everything else work itself out.

We started out strong and the miles seemed to fly by. Before I knew it I saw the boys out of the corner of my eye just after mile 3 and Alex and I doubled back to give them our long-sleeve shirts and gloves.

mile3
*photo via Alex’s camera

smiles
*photo via Alex’s camera

Again I was worried that Alex’s knee wouldn’t hold out and constantly made her to reassure me that she was okay to keep running. She hadn’t run at all in the two weeks since the Route 66 Half and we were both hoping she could repeat her stellar performance from Tulsa.

We ran down Beale Street and through historic neighborhoods in downtown Memphis. We ran through the St. Jude’s hospital campus and then the tears came. The spectators in this race were really great, but the ones lining the hospital campus were almost too much for me to handle. Signs thanking us for running for their sick friends, nephews, neighbors, and children. Weary parents and tiny patients in wheelchairs. Supporters and cheerleaders everywhere.

I knew that Alex was in pain by the time we hit the halfway point, but we kept going. We ran through the Memphis Zoo and my stomach started acting up. I stopped to use a filthy porta-potty while Alex stretched, but gave up waiting after wasting several minutes in line.

Alex didn’t falter until after mile 10 when she stopped to stretch again and bade me to go on ahead. I knew her spirits were high and that she would still finish strong, so I relunctantly ran on ahead. The last two miles lasted forever. I myself had only ran three times since the Tulsa half and had underestimated the endurance I had lost in those two weeks.  My whole body ached for the last three miles. I tried to do the little walk-run method, but walking hurt worse than running. I was on a time crunch and I just wanted to be done. I dug deep for those last two miles and picked up my pace. By the time I saw the guys again right after mile 13, I was sprinting.

I was saying, “Alex is behind me” while running as fast as I could.
Not a pretty look.finish
*photo via Alex’s camera

My last ditch efforts paid off. Despite wasting time in line for the bathroom and taking several stretch breaks with Alex, I knocked 3 minutes off my time from the Route 66 Half and earned another PR!

garmin

The course ended inside Autozone park which is a huge baseball stadium in downtown Memphis.  The finish line was on the field and all of the spectators were in the stands.

post-race

As soon as I crossed the finish line every muscle in my legs started cramping. They weren’t prepared for those last fast few miles. I managed to make it to the food tent and by that time the guys had found Alex. She finished in 2:29!

medals
*photo via
Alex’s camera

Couldn’t have survived those last two races without these guys.

boys
*photo via Alex’s camera

Unfortunately Jacob and I had to book it to the car as soon as we had all reunited. We drove straight to Little Rock (with one super-quick pit stop so I could pee and change clothes) and miraculously made it an hour before the shower started. I immediately dumped out the huge bag of decorations I had made, gave some quick instructions, and proceeded to take the world’s fastest shower. I was even ready in time enjoy a mimosa or two before the guests arrived :)

Obviously with the move I haven’t had much any time to run since the race, but I was beginning to get a little burned out anyway so a break was probably was for the best. Training for a race is a huge accomplishment, but also a huge time commitment. I’m so proud of how far I’ve come in the last year, but ready to focus on other adventures (of the Young House Love variety) for awhile.

group
*photo via Alex’s camera

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