That's me in the yellow Team Jake shirt! LOL!
St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend - December 3, 2011
I am thrilled to tell you all about my very first experience running a 1/2 Marathon!
--A little "history"of my running: I've been a runner really all of my life. Haven't we all, really?? Didn't we all run around as kids? Playing chase with other kids, running after the family dog, running away from the family dog, running after the Ice Cream truck driving through the neighborhood, running to catch the bus, running in gym class, running the bases around the baseball diamond, etc., etc., etc., the list goes on!
Anyway, I really started running (for more than the above reasons) when I was in 7th grade. I decided to try out track in middle school. I only did short distance like 100m, 200m, and the 400m. I did okay. I wasn't fast but didn't try for anything more than a 1/4 mile! The next year, 8th grade, I decided to try out Cross Country. I went from 1/4 mile on a flat oval track to 1 1/2 miles through the woods on uneven surfaces! I WAS IN LOVE. I finished 3rd in the County Championship that year.
I wasn't always a social butterfly growing up. And when it came to going to High School, I was scared out of my mind! I was scared to run Cross Country because there were a lot of girls, a lot older than me, and it intimidated me. I didn't show up to the first practice. My "new" coach was a little upset because he not only expected me but he was excited about the prospect. My "old" coach called me and asked why I didn't go. After a few encouraging words, I went to the next practice. Again, I WAS IN LOVE. This time it was 3.1 miles.
We had a "run off" to determine the Varsity and Junior Varsity teams. I was a freshman, and I made the Varsity team...even if I was the 7th and final girl to make the team!
And even better than just being the first Freshman girl in my HS to make the Varsity CC team? We won our first ever State Championship that year. It was November 1993....a very blistery and cold day, but we didn't feel it through all of the excitement and cheer!
Anyway, I ran all 4 years of HS and was in the top 2-3 my sophomore through senior years.
I took a long break through college...mostly because I think I was burned out. I ran a lot in middle school and high school because I ran both CC and track. I usually ran 6 days a week throughout most of the year. I only ran for exercise while in college. Then I went to graduate school and I gained about 10 lbs...weighing the most I'd ever weighed in my life.
I decided to start running again. And it felt soooo good to slip on those running shorts and shoes and take off down the street. Not to bore with lots of details but I've been running continuously now since 2003 (mid-way through 2003 when I was in my 1st year of graduate school). I even got my Hubby into running and he lost a lot of weight! He doesn't like running like I do, but he knows it works for getting into and keeping in shape!
I've ran lots of 5Ks, 5Ms, and 10Ks. And then I got the itch. Just half of an itch though. Not a full out itch. And, my first way to "satisfy the itch" was to register for the "Most Meaningful Race You'll Ever Run", St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend! What better way to be inspired to put in all of the training hours and miles and sweat than to run for the children at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital? There is no better way.
I started in the middle of Corral #5 based on my projected pace and finish time.
Quite the inspirational message on our side of the start line huh?
The race was on Saturday, December 3rd in downtown Memphis, Tennessee. What a wonderful place to run. There are so many landmarks and inspirational reasons to run. The course involves capturing a glorious view of the Mississippi River as you run down Riverside Drive. Then, you take a climb up onto historical Beale Street where throngs of people await you and cheer you on. Then....you make your way to the campus of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. You see precious little children with masks covering they're fragile faces while their parents are cheering you on, thanking you for running for their sick children. If this doesn't reinforce why you are running, and put a lump in your throat, I don't know what will. I was smiling ear to ear while tears streamed down my face. This was a moment I'll never forget, and will keep close to my heart, always.
The entrance of St. Jude Campus
You then move on to a long stretch of highway lined with trees. A pretty area to run, but the long stretch can mess with your mind. But, the masses of people are still out there, cheering you on. And what really moved me along was seeing all of the TEAM JAKE affiliated signs. A team I PROUDLY ran for in honor of Don and Staci's son, Jake Owen, who died at the age of 4 from a rare liver cancer. Precious Jake was diagnosed at the tiny age of 2 and he fought and he fought and he fought through numerous treatments, surgeries, and other operations until he earned his Angel Wings in October 2006.
Team Jake 2011 (I know there are missing team members as this is the biggest year yet...over 90 members!)
Jake's Mom and Aunt, and another Team Jaker, holding very inspirational signs...signs that kept us going and reminded us why we were there.
Every sign I saw, I tried to give a "high-5". It was like I gathered some of Jake's spirit and he helped me along. I felt his presence all around me.
You continue through Overland Park which is about mile 9-9 1/2. The home stretch is along Poplar Drive, a rolling 3 miles leading you back to the downtown area. At Sun Studios, which is 12 1/2 miles, the marathoners split off as they've just about reached halfway, and half-marathoners head for home! A downward finish into AutoZone Park as you are greeted by friends and family sitting in the stands can't be sweeter!
What a victory! My goal finish time for my first 1/2 marathon was 2 hours to 2:05. Well, I didn't just barely make my goal, I shattered my goal! My finish time was 1:51:51 with an average of an 8:33 pace per mile! Yes, I was SMOKIN! This year was the first year that spectators, friends and family (and those back home) could track runners by either their name or their bib number. My Hubby tracked me half way through and saw how fast I was going and said he was really worried I was going to burn out. I didn't. I held strong. I had a goal. I had a reason. I believed. I ran for Jake!
Proudly showing off my Finisher Medal....first 1/2 marathon under my belt!
Some other quick info: This year has been a very GOOD running year. Not only have I really toned and conditioned my body, I've also lost about 8 pounds.
And, here are some notable race results!
Run to the Cross 10K -2nd place in Age Group - 52:39 (PR)
Bark in the Park 5K - 1st place in Age Group - 24:40 (I can't remember my finish times in HS but this is a PR since HS!)
Big Dog Ultra Trail Run 5Mile - 1st place overall female finisher! 46:16 (PR)
St. Jude 1/2 Marathon 13.1Miles - finished in top 10% of all categories (Overall finisher, female finisher and age class finisher) - 1:51:51 (PR)