Monday, December 8, 2014

490 St. Jude Half Marathon 2014

Less than a month ago I got a facebook message that threw me for a loop. 

The owner of our local run shop, Full Motion Running and Cycling in Olive Branch, MS, posted on my Facebook page (Mississippi Running Momma) asking which distance  I wanted  to run. They had held a raffle to win a race bib for the St. Jude Full or Half Marathon. Five cans of canned goods got a ticket. Food for the food bank AND a chance to win a bib?! I was in! I dropped off 30 cans. But I didn't actually win. Matt Hall saw my post about it, and he decided to offer me one of  their bibs! I was over the moon, and it made me love their store even more! If you are in the area then definitely check them out!

I knew I had to be certifiable ... certifiably crazy that is! I was registered for my first half marathon on Thanksgiving, and the St. Jude was only ten days later! But never look a Gift Race Bib in the mouth! I think you should always run those opportunities because there is a greater reason  for you being there. And no one can argue that St. Jude is an amazing charity! Plus, I have some personal reasons for supporting St. Jude. I know too many people whose children have had cancer. Too many who have fought and fought. Too many who have been lost. Too many kids I will never meet or watch grow up. If I can even help one family as they go through this experience then it is worth the pain and sweat a million times over. I hope to be able to do this year after year in their memories.

I got a late start in my fundraising, but I was able to raise a good amount with donations from several generous people. I am doubly thankful for the donations. Not only did they go to help insure that the families of St. Jude are never charged a dime... they were also a high five and a pat on the back  for me. To have people who support me means so very much! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

The whole experience was amazing. This was my first race that was anywhere near to this scale! The expo was great! Packet pick-up was a breeze, and if I had brought more money with me then I might have been in trouble once I got through getting my bib and my Heroes singlet.

The pace car was wrapped with the names of  all St. Jude Heroes .... who had registered  before 10/20. I didn't make it in under the gun but it  was still great to see!
This was a "wall" that we could write on. It was covered with notes of  hope and encouragement!
And... the longest line at the expo? The one for your Beer Bracelet. I don't even drink  beer, but it seemed like the thing to do at the time. They were very organized, and the line moved fast.

I came home with a  bag full of goodies. I entered drawings for more races... And I bought my first running skirt! I couldn't turn it down for $9.99 when they are usually closer to $40. It helps if you feel cute when you are running. I couldn't wait to try on my singlet!
The night  before the race I did what I have done the night before every major sporting event for my entire life... I carb loaded. Mainly, I ate a big bowl of  pasta with just a little butter and salt. And I drank lots of water. Then, I had to go in for my first official night of work. Yup... I headed back to work this week for the first time in 7 years. And my request for this date off was denied... I am SO THANKFUL for one of the girls at work, Lennie, for allowing me to leave early. I will definitely be repaying that favor twice over because it meant that much to  me. So, my warm up for my half marathon... I walked around in two inch heels for four and a half hours. I manged to make it home with enough time for a power nap, and then I was up again. Chip drove me and dropped me off, so I didn't have to  worry about parking the van and making it on time. He also kept me motivated the whole way, and he sent me off with a kiss for good luck.

The start was set up into corrals. I put myself in corral 13 because it was the pace range for my Thanksgiving half. IT WAS FREEZING! I know  it wasn't technically that cold,but the air was damp and the wind was KILLER! Especially being downtown with the wind tunnel effect going on. I didn't want to have to abandon clothing or tie a jacket around my waist, so I chose to suffer through being cold before the race. I definitely shouldn't have made that decision.... Next time I think I will decide not to worry about how silly I look. I could have had some fancy tube sock arm warmers at least.
Way down there.... Yeah, that is  the starting line!
Waves released every two minutes. It was very organized and it moved like clockwork. Great atmosphere! I couldn't wait to get moving... and not just so I could warm up!

This was a misfire! But I kind of love it anyway.
We were off! I felt awesome! I was moving well. I forgot how bad my feet were hurting from my heels. I forgot about  my new blister. I was swept up in the energy of all these awesome athletes around me!
This was also definitely the most scenic route I have run.
The Mississippi River
The Bridge... The Pyramid!
The half cross eyed pictures because my fingers were so cold that the screen wasn't registering... until I made a silly face trying to look in the corner to see if  it worked.
Here comes Beale!
I wanted this to be a fun race! I knew I wasn't going to PR this one. My legs were tired. Heck, I was tired all over. I also *whispers* hadn't run since Thanksgiving... don't tell anyone. I tried to stop and selfie with most of the people who came out to cheer dressed up. AND COME ON! How can you not take a picture with an  Elvis in Memphis!?
Running backwards up Beale... because, why not?
And the derpiest of derpy pictures... Another finger fail, but two more wonderful guys dressed up to cheer us all on!
This is just before we made it to the St.Jude campus. I decided to put my phone away so that I could fully experience this section of the course. I had heard what a  huge impact this section would have on me, and it was spot on. The families of St. Jude lined the street, and the sound of their cheers was such a lift. This is why we were running. These families and all the families that are impacted by St. Jude. It was such an honor to be able to run. Such an honor for THEM to cheer for little ol' me! A couple hours of sweating, and I was able to go home. When you think about  what they face daily... it is staggering. So much strength lined that section of road. I soaked it in and let it help me through the rest of the race.
Up... up.... up.... I had a friend, who shall remain nameless, tell me that the course wasn't too hilly. He clearly doesn't know who was talking to... Or I should  have realized  I was talking to someone who runs mountains for  fun. He was not running St. Jude... because he was running 100 miles in Louisiana!
We ran behind and around the zoo.
And through Overton Park.... where I found this guy!
And where I found this gal! Miss Tammie and some of her girl scouts were helping with the marathon relay. So proud of our girl scouts!!
I mainly took this picture because of the spiky ball thing... but this is an excellent opportunity to say "THANK YOU!" to the police officers and everyone else who helped out along  the race! I  know there were A LOT of disgruntled motorists, but they kept us all safe. 
FINALLY! This was the moment I realized that I was looking at the back of the Jumbotron in Auto Zone park... better known as THE FINISH LINE! It was an excellent finish! A slight downhill slope that funneled us right into the stadium. 
I FINISHED! I missed my PR by only 6(ish) minutes! Official time was 2:48:49 with a pace of 12:54. I was 520 out of 721 in my age group 35-39. And if I knew exactly what everything else meant on the read out I would tell you... 
My hubby! He ran about a mile himself to make it to pick me up. Parking was a bear, but he got there just as I  finished. I did try to get my print out of the results, but they were  waiting for  the system  to update... and I was tired. I  didn't even hit the food or the beer tent. Chip did insist that I wear his jacket on the walk back to the car. And we stopped inside a restaurant supply store, Lit (?), and I got a box of cookies. Also, it was warm. What I really wanted was a Summer Sausage! But no luck.
By 1pm I was home, showered, and in some warm jammies! I wasn't hurting too bad... yet. It did take  me quite a while to warm up though.

I didn't get to relax too  long though... I followed up my half marathon with 8 hours on my feet at work. I am counting that as my cool down. 

I had such a great St.Jude Half experience! I am already looking forward to next year! I need to find  some more races... fast!