Saturday, December 01, 2007

St. Jude Memphis Marathon

Sometimes the best laid plans just don't work. That was the case with this marathon. So I'll start from the beginning. Get ready for a long report! :)

On Thursday night I slept for almost 10 hours. On Friday night I actually slept for about 8 hours. All systems were go. I got up a bit before my alarm and starting getting ready to rock. I put on all of my Elijah stuff, including the reminder band. In addition, I put on a hospital bracelet that I received as a St. Jude Hero. It was my key to entry to post-race Heroes areas.

I was racing for St. Jude patient Serina, age 21, from Louisiana. She is battling Adrenal Cortical Carcinoma.

Chasen dropped me off as close as possible to the start. I knew it would be hectic, so I went alone. I weaved through the crowds and found my corral, #9 -- for the 4:45 - 5:00 racers. (my dream was 5:00) We started staggered... meaning I didn't cross the start line until about 8:15 AM.

I was doing quite well, I must say. I was keeping up with the 5:00 pacers like a champ. The next thing I knew, they had disappeared into thin air. But I was still going strong... I just couldn't see them. I was "on pace" for at least 5-6 miles. Chasen said that when I called at mile 7 I didn't sound good. Dismal at mile 7!!! Not good.

Here is my amazing pit crew: (L-R) Wayne, Helen (age 4), Chasen, Michele, Maggie (11 months)
Here I am approaching the pit crew at about mile 4. I am holding my special picture of Elijah.

Off I go!

And the struggle began. I have no idea why. I'm sure you'll gasp when you see my splits. It's as if I just lost steam. I was NOT happy. According to the splits, it went south at mile 10. But the fatigue began much earlier. For one thing, I had to use the port-o-pottie for the first time in my racing career. It didn't take long, and was such a relief. Upon getting up, though, I dropped my special picture of Elijah. IN THE POTTIE. I was just sick about that! I have already talked to Dawn tonight... and she laughed! She said Elijah would certainly autograph another for me. :)

Helen got a lot of smiles with her sign.

Even Baby Maggie got involved! They said she only got fussy when she wasn't holding a sign.

Before mile 13 I literally wanted to quit. QUIT. Can you believe that? Neither could I. I knew that was not an option. There was NO WAY I was going to let down all of the donators, my friends, myself, and Elijah. No way. But how on earth was I going to make it to 26.2? I was devastated. I had already been passed by the 5:15 pacers an the 5:30 pacers. Mind you, I ran Little Rock in 5:38. I wanted to cry. So I started to walk. Before the half, I was zoomed past by my friend Kim who was running her first full marathon today. Man oh man.

So I forged ahead. Walking and running. Runing in slow motion. By mile 15 I thought "just 11 more miles." By 16 the prognosis was better - "just 10 more miles." At this point I called Coach Terry for inspiring words. I sooooo did not want to disappoint him. I left him a voicemail. I called Chasen and left him a voicemail. No one was answering. I left Annette a voicemail, also. She and her pals were supposed to run me in. I was calling in that favor way ahead of schedule.

The next few miles were equally awful. I just didn't have it in me. I was sick about it! What a letdown. I was hoping to make it to 20 and "start fresh." About that time I finally met up with a "running buddy" that I'd stay with until the end of the race. This guy and I ran and walked together until a block from the stadium (when I finally got a second wind and left him in the dust - sorry guy - but he said to go ahead).

I finally made it to Autozone Park. I had to run around half of the field.

Wayne took most of these photos. He has a new camera and was primed to try it out!

The finish at last! My Garmin read 5:59:06. That's almost 21 minutes slower than last time.

With space blanket on, I headed to the chip removal lady.

Chip removal, then I got my beautiful medal.

Next I had to walk UP the darn stairs. Yuck!

I was met by Chasen who tended to shoe removal detail.

After all this I got some food. We said goodbye to the rest of the pit crew and headed to the St. Jude Heroes areas. On the way, Coach Terry called. He was great about it all and assured me that these things happen. I just HATE that it had to happen TODAY.

I got food at the Heroes room for later, then found out that the massage people were packing up early. UGH! So we went back to the hotel. It was ICE BATH time!

I ran the tub about 1/3 full with cold water. I stepped in and couldn't will myself to do anything more that squat in it. Then I took the plunge. My legs were covered. It wasn't that bad! Chasen went to the ice machine and loaded me up. Then he went back for more. I must say - it was not that bad. I actually enjoyed it. So far it has made me very un-sore.

After a quick "cowboy cool" shower, Biofreeze went all over my legs. My left foot is all blistered, but I'll live.

We went shopping with our friends/pit crew, and then out to eat. The day was ended by a dip in the pool.

Here are the not-so-nice facts:
The course was one big rolling hill. I do not recommend it. Sorry to say.
There was not much crowd support along the majority of the course.
Only two people that I did not know yelled "Go Susan!"
At times we had to run, basically, in traffic. Runners are apparently second class citizens in Memphis.
I inhaled vehicle exhaust all day.
It is very mean to make racers walk up a zillion steps after crossing a finish line.
The end-of-race food was minimal, Hero or not.
Official results still have not been posted.
I am not pleased with our hotel.

Here are the better facts:
I would do this all over again in a heartbeat. Being a Hero has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
I did hear "Thanks, Heroes" many times throughout the race.
I felt extremely supported by all of my amazing runner friends going into this.
I stuck with it and finished.

Here are my splits: (not for the faint of heart)
Mile 1 - 11:01
Mile 2 - 11:06
Mile 3 - 11:15
Mile 4 - 11:30
Mile 5 - 10:59
Mile 6 - 11:40
Mile 7 - 11:32
Mile 8 - 11:34
Mile 9 - 11:26
Mile 10 - 12:36
Mile 11 - 13:30
Mile 12 - 13:44
Mile 13 - 12:51
Mile 14 - 14:39
Mile 15 - 18:31
Mile 16 - 14:25
Mile 17 - 13:29
Mile 18 - 15:42
Mile 19 - 15:01
Mile 20 - 15:42
Mile 21 - 15:30
Mile 22 - 15:25
Mile 23 - 14:46
Mile 24 - 15:45
Mile 25 - 15:44
Mile 26 - 15:55
Mile 26.6 - 3:35

It's awful, I know. But, as I said, I was just proud to finish. I guess if it was easy, everyone would do it!


peter said...

It takes a lot to keep going and finish when you're not having a good day. On a training run you just come back on a better day. In a race, you just either do it or you don't, there is no other day. You went 26 miles and perservered, that is quite an accomplishment for a wonderful cause. We're all proud of you!

Petraruns said...

Susan honey - you did an amazing job. We ALL have terrible days and you had the misfortune of having one on marathon day. Your perseverance and determination are amazing - you stuck it out and the going could not have got much tougher. Be proud of yourself - it's easy to get round when everything is going well, so much more difficult when you're having a hard time. We are all immensely proud of you. Yay Susan! Go Susan!

Nigel, Staffordshire said...

Fantastic stuff Susan. You did it, you finished !!! Well done on your running and fund raising efforts - you should be very proud.


Arland said...

Girl, you did not do awful. You did GREAT! You finished. Thats always the number one goal. I can relate to so much of what happened in your marathon, I had the same thing with the pacers and what is it about mile 7 or 8??. i always thought the bad stuff would start happening around 15-17. 26.2 miles is a long way and so many things can and do happen that can change the outcome. I bet you learned a few things to make your next one better too. Hope you have a good recovery.

Susan K. said...

Susan--YOU DID IT!!!!

You are amazing. You ran a marathon, girlfriend, that in itself is an amazing thing. That you were running for Elijah, and raised all that $$...simply awe-inspiring and amazing. You really are a hero!! My hero, for sure, inspiring me to run.

I feel bad because I didn't send you good luck wishes before-hand--sorry! I was thinking of you as you were racing.

Neither of us will give up, I know that!

I always enjoy reading your blog--your pictures are great and everything you tell us about--thanks for sharing with us!

I think you had an awesome, amazing race, and I'm so proud of you! Don't be so hard on yourself!

*big hugs*

CewTwo said...

I am always so amazed at what my friend can do. You ran a marathon. Again. And for such a worthy cause.

What a grand lady you are!

I am so impressed with you again!

Katie said...

Excellent race report - you did well!

Jen P said...

My hat's off to you.

MarathonChris said...

You are a marathoner.

You COMPLETED 26.2 miles.

You raised lots of money for an incredible cause.

You ran for a good friend, on his birthday, who has also been "running" the race of his life.

You have inspired a lot of people to wear Elijah bands, donate to your cause, and run!

You finished a race when everything inside you was screaming to stop.

Your perseverance, strong will, strength are inspiring!!!!

You had the most incredible race!!

We are all so proud of you :-) Be extremely proud of yourself. Realish the victory of completing yet another marathon in a single year.

You rocked that marathon!

cheryl said...

I'm so sorry we missed you Susan. But, don't be too hard on yourself, you finished a MARATHON! it was all I could do to finish the half!
We saw Chasen two times and he said Hi both times, thank him for me. Susan, you are a Superstar for just getting out there and doing it, most people are just sitting around doing nothing!

Gordon said...

You have done twice what many others have never attempted,let alone though about trying. You persevered, fought on, and raised money for a cute kid.
Be proud of yourself, because we are proud of you.

Anonymous said...

Thank all of you for your support before and after the marathon of Susan. She is inspiring and normally doesn't giver herself credit for the the good things she accomplishes. I am as always very proud of her for not stopping when she hit the wall but for finding a way through or over the wall to finish. - Chasen

Mike Hudson said...

You finished and that is what counts!! Great job!!

Results are posted here:

ShirleyPerly said...

I too did not have the race I envisioned. But don't be too hard on yourself. Look at all the positives that came out of it. And if you should feel the need to hash over the negatives, realize that it's just one race and just one day in your life. Keep moving forward.

Kelly said...

Susan-you are truly an amazing person. You faced some tough challenges and perservered through them. You finished and you ROCK!! I am so proud to have had the opportunity to meet and run with you. Know in your soul that you have done a great thing for Elijah and St. Jude's.

Bex said...

Great race report, and I love the photos! Oh, and you asked me on my blog whether I knew of any road races in Tahoe in January. There are none that I can think of -- Tahoe is usually buried under 6-10 feet of snow at that time! So you'll have great skiing weather. Where will you be staying?

nylisa said...


And more importantly you found the strength to complete it! You should be really proud of yourself, Susan! We all are! :D


Marathon Maritza said...

Oh Susan, but it's NOT 'awful' as you say! It taks SO MUCH MORE to push through the tough miles, the miles where you just want to sit down or quit. If every marathon was our dream marathon, where's the challenge in that? It took such guts and determination to keep putting one foot in front of the other and you should be infinitely proud of yourself. On TOP OF THAT, you raised money and awareness for someone else, for a greater cause than yourself.

Your accomplishment is so admirable and I am very proud of you.

Jennifa......G said...

You rock! After all of made it and with girl are a true inspiration.

jeanne said...

Ah, i'm late to this party, but holy cow, i can't below how you pushed yourself to finish! It's so true that when you have days like this duing training you just have to shrug it off and wait til the next day. It's a shame it happened to you on your race day...but good LORD! I'm soooo impressed that you stuck it out, with grace and dignity!

You did fantastic. What a role model!

lizzie lee said...

Susan, you did awesome finishing with so much pain and exhaustion. I am proud for your effort and your reasons to run.

I am in Thailand right now with my beautiful daughter enjoying beaches and NO SHOES.. so no running for this month. I will be back to the US on Jan 3rd, and I'll start running after that...

Have a very blessed Christmas and a great running year in 2008

lizzie lee

sue said...