I am going to do a written recap without pictures first, since I know this will get a little long, and every time I write a long post my pictures never show up!! So pictures will follow shortly:)
Silas and I packed up the boys and headed to Memphis on Friday afternoon when he got off work. The trip went well and we rode a trolley downtown to the expo at the Convention center which the boys loved! I got my packet easily and we left to go check into the hotel. After we dumped our stuff off, we headed out to load me up with carbs at Macaroni Grill:) We all had spaghetti and bread which was delicious! Then Silas dropped me off at Toys R Us to finish up our Christmas shopping for the boys. I found everything I needed and was happy about that! The boys went to bed pretty well once we got back to the hotel, but then it all went downhill from there. I got my outfit set put and everything ready for the morning and finally laid down about 10pm to try and sleep. Jace woke up around 11pm and would not go back to sleep. I hadn't been to sleep yet. And then he was up and down from then on until 2am. I finally fell asleep a little after 2 am and my alarm went off at 5am. My 3 hours of sleep was about all I thought I would get, but it sure would have been nice to have a little more rest!! I got ready, we packed the car and were off to the race!
We met up with my running partner and her friend and hung out downtown for a while before heading to the starting line. The weather was stressing me out a bit. It had snowed earlier in the week, and then it ended up being much warmer than I had hoped for at race time. The temp was somewhere around 52 degrees when we started and around 60 at the end, which was about 15 degrees warmer than most of what I had trained in, and a bit warm for my liking. It was just a hard temp to dress for. Anyway, we headed to the starting line and got in our corral. I waited to start my watch until 5 minutes to race start, and of course it wouldn't come on. I reset it and tried again and it worked thank goodness, but said Low Battery, which stressed me out a bit too. I knew it would die before the race was over, but had no clue how long it would last for me. I tried to stay calm and not worry about it, and did pretty good about it! It took us about 11 or 12 minutes to cross the starting line once the race started, and we were off!
Our plan was to pace around a 9:30 minute mile for the first half and go from there. It was very crowded for the first 5 or 6 miles and hard to run a steady pace. We ended up weaving a lot too around slower runners, which gets tiring fast. The 3 of us ran along for the first few miles enjoying the crowds and music. It was fun to run down by the river, and through downtown Memphis. At mile 4.5 or so we headed to the St. Jude campus and ran through the hospital. That was my favorite part! I got choked up several times seeing all the kids with cancer, and the parents holding signs thanking us for running and raising money for the hospital. It was so emotional and touching. I am so glad it was near the beginning or I really would have lost it! We didn't stop at a water station until mile 5, where we grabbed a drink and took some chomps. My running partner started saying she didn't feel well a little after this, and our race plan started to change pretty fast. We were keeping a steady pace and doing well, so we decided to just make it to the half and see how she felt. I put my ipod in about mile 10 which really helped. I could tell Liz was starting to fade towards the half, so I went on ahead around mile 12.5 or so and was on my own.
My watch was still working thank goodness, but I knew it would last much longer, and I had no one with me now! I saw Silas, the boys, and our friends at mile 13 which was fun and a good boost. About mile 14 I started to get bored, and realized there had been a girl running alone in front of me for a while now, so I decided to make a new friend:) I ran up to her and started talking. I asked if she minded if I ran with her a while since I had lost my running buddies and was lonely! She said sure! It turns out her training partners had gotten injured before the race and she was running solo too, and was happy I joined her:) Her name was Ali, and we ran together the entire rest of the race! She finished about a minute ahead of me, but I was so thankful for her. We talked off and on for the next 12 miles and encouraged each other when we needed a boost. My Garmin ended up dying right after mile 16, and I was so thankful my new friend was happy to keep me updated on our progress:) She kept me up on our pace and total time, and I used my pace chart to keep us on track. It worked out perfectly! It was a beautiful sunny day to run and the course was great. No big hills at all and lots to look at along the way. There were water stops every single mile and I pretty much stopped at all of them but maybe one from the half point on. I knew I needed to stay hydrated since it was getting so warm.
I got a little tired around 20 miles, but we pushed on. The last 6 miles were a foggy nightmare for me in the last marathon, but this time around went much better. We started playing the "lets just make it to the next mile game" at this point. I knew if I could just get to mile 24 I would feel better mentally. We stayed strong and only walked for about 5-10 seconds at each water station to make sure we drank well. It was easier to start moving again when you had someone with you! We had fun smiling for pictures along the way, and tried to encourage other runners who looked like they were struggling. The miles kept ticking away slowly but steadily, and I was still about 3 minutes ahead of my best case scenario time goal! Mile 25 to 26 was the hardest for me. My left calf tried to start cramping at this point. I would feel it start to cramp up, and just willed it not to. There was no way I was going to start walking when I was this close to the end! Mostly I was just hot. And the wind had really kicked up and seemed to be blowing right at us. It was hard to fight it and keep moving. But we did. I knew the finish line was getting close and I was really happy with the race so far. I lost all my extra time in that last mile, just from being so tired, hot and windy. The crowds were so good and very encouraging along the way, which really helped too. I lost Ali right after mile 26 as she went ahead. I was so proud of her, since this was her first marathon!! She did awesome:) The finish is inside the AutoZone park field which was fun. I ran into the stadium and had plenty of juice left to push across the finish line with a smile on my face!
I got my medal and mylar blanket, and smiled for a picture from Silas:) Then went to get my picture taken with Elvis! I felt tired but really good. I was walking around fine and was so excited about reaching my goal without my watch!! Official time was 4:18:46, and I had carried a pace chart for a 4:18 finish....it was perfect! I went up the stairs to meet up with Silas and our friends. I couldn't believe how much better I felt after this marathon than I did in Little Rock. I thought I was going to die after that one! We all hung out and visited for a while and then decided to head out. The boys were getting restless and I was ready to sit down and get off my feet! We made it back to the car and headed home.
I changed into some clean clothes in the car and we headed out of town with a big smile on my face:) Oh yeah, my running partner finished in 4:46. She had a cold and just wasn't feel great, and I am so proud of her for gutting it out and finishing the race alone. That is not easy to do.