St. Jude Half Marathon 2010
February 2, 2011
This race report is way, WAY overdue. Sorry about that. The race actually took place on December 4, 2010. I traveled down to Memphis the night before and stayed with my friends Jason and Melissa. After getting to bed late and getting up super early, I headed to downtown Memphis.
The race starts just outside Autozone Park (the minor league baseball field in Memphis), and ends in the park itself. I was really impressed with the amount of close, cheap parking that was available. The weather was brisk, but not too cold so I stashed my jacket and pants in my gear bag and left them at the bag drop. I wandered around a bit and ran into my Nashville running buddies Joe and Karen. They were planning on doing the full marathon. We chatted for a moment and then went our separate ways.
Due to an utter lack of training, my main goal in this race was to finish with dignity. I was mainly aiming at a 2:25:00 finish, but would have been satisfied with anything under 2:30:00. I headed down to the start line and took up position in my corral. I chatted with some of the runners around me, one from Kentucky and one from Hermitage (not too far from my old apartment).
Pretty soon we were off to the races. My first mile was pretty slow just running with the crowd. I had set my watch for 5 minute run intervals with 1 minute rest intervals, but pretty much ignored it as it beeped. After a mile or so, a lady in front of me dropped her lipstick. Who carries lipstick in a race? And why would you need it? She got several laughs as she stopped to go back and get it.
The next couple of miles were through the streets of downtown Memphis. There were lots of people cheering on the sidelines, probably the most I’ve seen at a race. Lou and Victoria who ran Ragnar with me showed up to cheer on the Nashville crew and they were standing on the corner cheering for just about everyone. The crowd got really dense in a few places, so much so that the running lane was only a few people wide.
After downtown we headed through the St. Jude campus. The crowd here was tremendous and extremely enthusiastic. There were lots of high fives to be given out and even some hugs and pats of the backs for a few participants. It was a great boost of energy.
We then headed into Midtown and the meat and potatoes of the event. The crowds thinned out as we headed down into a residential area. I started feeling fatigued at this point. At mile seven I realized that I had not stopped running since the beginning of the race (except for at the water stops when people just stopped right in front of me). I decided then that my goal would be to not take any rest intervals and to just run the whole thing. it would be hard considering how out of shape I was, but I felt like it was something worth attempting.
We next entered a park and the running lane became narrower, but the runners had thinned out a bit. I was still maintaining a decent pace and even tried to step it up a bit. As we came out of the park though, things started to get a little hilly. The hills were small rollers, but there seemed to be more up to them than down. This was the terrain for most of the rest of the race. It really started to get to me after a while and by mile 11, any hopes of a PR were finished, but I was still running and had not stopped.
Around mile 12.5 or so, we topped the final hill and headed around a curve. Victoria came up behind me and handed me a Star Crunch which I gladly accepted (even though I only managed to eat half). With her encouragement I slogged on through although I was at an extremely slow pace at this point. People were passing me at will. The end finally came into view and from out of nowhere a last reserve of energy was found and my legs took off. I passed back a lot of people and finished with a time of 2:20:09.
I skipped the after race festivities. It was just too crowded and too confusing to try to figure out how to get to the post race swag. The only real gripe I had with this race was the pre and post race setup they had. It just wasn’t as runner friendly as it could have been.
While I wasn’t at the peak of my training, this turned out to be a pretty good race. I ran the whole thing, finished just 4 minutes off my PR time, and got to see and hang out with some great people. If you’ve never been to Memphis or have never raced in Memphis, this is one you ought to try.