If you haven’t done the St. Jude Marathon or Half Marathon, I suggest you seriously consider it, especially if you love Barbeque as much as I do. It’s for a great cause, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and Memphis is a fun city to visit. They have Graceland, Beale Street (kinda like a mini Bourbon Street) and a trolley system.
The g/f and I both ran the half last year and had a great time. Plus, she went to college in Memphis and can see a lot of her college friends. After about a 4 hour drive from St Louis we headed straight to the expo to pick up our race packets. It sucked getting there towards the end since most of the clothes had already been picked over and I wanted to buy a t-shirt. Luckily there was one left in an XL. Sadly the g/f wanted this really nice jacket but there was only 1 left . Maybe they’ll have some extras they didn’t know about and put them online. We walked around the expo for a bit then loaded up on Honey Stinger Waffles (which are delicious) and headed for the hotel.
It was the usual pre race routine, pizza and then overnight oats in the morning. Except our hotel had a spectacular breakfast buffet so we loaded up on breakfast food for after the race. It’s nice to be able to walk to the race start. We met one of the g/f’s friends and walked to the start. Neither of them had been training much so they were going to walk/run the race. I had no idea what was going to happen with my race due to the knee issues I had been dealing with…speaking of which I haven’t been having many problems with it. I started in the 10 min/mile group.
I planned on running 10 minute miles as long as I could and seeing what happens. About 15 minutes after the elites went off I’d get to see how I faired. The race is a scenic race, you run through downtown Memphis for a good portion of it, along the river, down Beale Street (where you could probably hear a pin drop, it was pretty pathetic that no one was cheering, Worst Crowd Ever) A few miles later the course goes through St Jude Hospital and the kids at St Jude and their families are all out going nuts…this part of the crowd is not included with the aforementioned pathetic crowd.
Around this time I started to consider my race plan. I had been keeping 10 minute miles with one 10:20 mile and my heart rate had been steady. My 10K split pace was 10:10. I picked up the pace to under 10s to see what happened. I had been taking about 20 seconds at the water stops (ever mile) but skipped a few. I think mile 5 was mostly downhill. I kept thinking about how the g/f has a half marathon PR 3 minutes faster than mine (with a bathroom break as she would say) and wanted to beat her. At mile 7 I felt great and decided to go somewhat for broke. I turned it up as much as I could.
First 7 miles
10:21 10:03 9:59 10:15 9:45 9:54 9:47
I also picked up up the pace on downhills. After the mile 8 water stop I said F the water stops and I took as much gel as I could. Mile 8 was 9:37. It started to get pretty crowded around mile 9 and I realized I had caught a pace group. I weaved my way through since they seemed to slow down. I caught the actual pacers at the water stop and grabbed some water that a girl on the other side of the road from the tables had but didn’t stop to drink it. Mile 9 was a little slower than I wanted at 9:46 probably due to the pace group. After that is was smooth sailing, I don’t remember getting passed after mile 6 or 7. I was passing people left and right which rarely happens for me during running races. Mile 10 was a little slow mainly because I had to do the Y-M-C-A! and it was mostly uphill.
The last miles of the race are a big tease. They’re on a main road with rolling hills and you can see downtown taunting you in the distance, it’s so close yet so far. Mile 11 was 9:27, Mile 12: 9:39. Right after mile 12 I passed the g/f’s sister and not too long after that there was a crowd of runners and everyone was yelling. I couldn’t see what happened but it sounded like someone was hit by a car….it turns out they collapsed and other runners including three nurses stopped to perform CPR…thankfully he lived. Just to give you an idea of how fast the response was…the g/f finished 20 minutes after me and they already had the guy out of there. It probably helps that he was about a half mile from the finish.
Another thing I love about this race is the slight downhill for the last half mile. It makes for an easy finish which made my 13th mile 9:34.With the last .1 being at a 9:02 pace. The race finishes in the outfield on the warning track of AutoZone park, home of the Memphis Redbirds. (The St. Louis Cardinals AAA ball club)
I crossed the finish line at 2:10:09, my half PR by over a minute but not quite good enough to beat the g/f who finished about 20 minutes behind me. Not too bad since she was right around her time from last year. While waiting for her to cross the finish line I got my picture taken with Elvis!
Not the best Elvis impersonator but it’s all for a good cause. (P.S. I did NOT skip the port-a-potty…it’s sweat.) Who knows why my eyes aren’t open.
The St. Jude Marathon also has the best post race food out of every race I’ve ever done. There was soda, granola bars, apples, bananas, pizza, cookies, yogurt in a tube, chicken tortilla soup, Krispy Kreme donuts, beer and of course Chocolate Milk!
We headed back to the hotel for a nap and then it was off to get some Memphis Barbecue Nachos from Central BBQ!
Surprisingly I did pretty well…124 out of 226 for my age group and 1998 out of over 6000 overall.