Monday, December 8, 2008

Memphis Marathon Weekend

Sorry if this is long but read on if you dare.

The St Jude's Marathon is now over but it was a whirlwind weekend for Annette and I. Me as a spectator. Annette as a full marathon finisher. And I'll have to say, I am pretty proud of her. She ran 20 miles without a walk break and set a new marathon PR of 4:57:53. This was her 5th marathon and her 4th this year. Amazing!!

We left Friday morning meeting a caravan of Cabot Cruisers at Brenda's house around 10am. The initial count by Vicki was that there was going to be at least 35 Cabot Cruisers at the race either doing the full or the half. Vicki was doing the 5k even. We hit the road with the official Cruiser caravan and the funny thing was, it was three Honda CRV's and all with 26.2 stickers on the back.

We arrived at the expo around 12:30 and got our packets and made the rounds. I was a little disappointed that the expo was so small. I guess it was maybe bigger than Little Rock but there was no comparison at all to Nashville. Memphis may have been smaller than Tulsa in fact. Nashville was so crowed you couldn't even walk. Memphis you could look around and chat all you wanted which was nice. Afterwards we all got checked in at the Marriott and started thinking about where to eat dinner. It was soon determined that we would eat at the hotel since they were having a pasta buffet. Around 5 we met in the lobby and took over the restaurant. There were other Cruisers that had arrived and I think we must have had 20-25 there by that time with more arriving. It was pretty cool to see that our one little town had this many runners here.

After dinner we hung out and chatted, sat down with James and Michele while they ate dinner and also went to a 25 year wedding anniversary toast for Don and Tammy. Pretty busy night and it was still fairly early. Since I wasn't racing, I could really see and feel the stress and tension everyone had. Wondering what to wear, what the weather was going to be like, what to eat, did they have their nutrition right, what pace they were running and the list went on. We even walked back over to the Expo with a few of the crew then it was time to head to the room.

That was another story too. For some reason we had gotten a room with two double beds and Jane, who had her son and a friend with her, only got a single king bed. We were staying two nights and she was only staying one but to make things easier for them, Annette offered to swap rooms for the night. No big deal, happy to do it. Only problem was, late check out was 2pm and we had to get our stuff back in our original room by then. That meant that the girls would have to run the marathon and be back at the hotel within 6 hours. Well, Annette really didn't want to think about that the night before and I didn't push the issue. She had stuff laid all over the room trying to figure out what to wear. It was very interesting to say the least because the marathon had totally taken over everyone at that point. I think we finally got to bed at 10 maybe. Set the alarm for 4:50. Of course, hotel rooms always suck and it was hard to sleep.

Annette was up and going at 5am so she could eat. By 5:30 she was getting up and starting to get ready. Think I made it up around 6, headed down to the coffee shop and got coffee. The group was all meeting at 6:50 to head to the race start. I wanted to see them off but I really didn't want to go to the start as it was about 28 degrees or less and you really can't see anyone in that mass group of people. Instead, I came up with the plan for the support crew in the group to go to the corner of Popular and Main to cheer everyone on. That would be just past mile 3. We got a couple photos before everyone left then the rest of us had a little time.

Just past 8am, James, Bob, Cindy and myself headed to the corner to cheer on the runners. It was very cold and it was windy too. This was one time it would have been better being a runner because at least the running would warm you up some. We got to see the lead vehicle and then the lead runners come through. The first two were very fast and obviously just running the 1/2. About a block back came a group of Kenyans who all appeared to be running the full marathon. One of our runners was not too far behind them though. Josh who is very fast was maybe a couple blocks behind them and this was his first marathon.

We saw several of our runners and it was fun cheering everyone on as they came by. I would often tell the people running that they were warmer than I was. I don't even remember who all we saw. We wanted to see everyone but we missed a bunch in the traffic. I hope we gave some of the runners a boost at least. And we hung out there in the bitter cold till probably past the 5:30 runners. By then we had to go get warm and headed back to the hotel with hopes of breakfast.

After checking our time, Bob informed us that he didn't have time for breakfast as he wanted to see Lisa finish the half. She is very fast so she was expected around 1:40ish. We didn't have over an hour so we opted for coffee and some got a snack there. We lucked out and caught the warm trolley and headed for Autozone Park and the finish line. It was a good thing we did things the was we did. It wasn't 3 minutes after we got there and Lisa and Rock's name was called out as coming in to the finish line. The finish line for the half wasn't really where you could see it good so James and I ended up going over to the food. Since both of us had paid to race and couldn't, we used our number to get us some free race food. After all, we paid big money for this little perk!

After killing a little time talking and walking around, it wasn't long till we were in the 2:30 time range. We all knew that Josh was shooting for maybe a 2:45 marathon time so we sat and waited in the bleachers to watch for him. Time passed but there was still plenty for him as he needed a 3:10 to Boston qualify. Just past the 3:00 time we saw him run in the stadium. He crossed the line showing 3:02 but officially it was a 3:01. Amazing time for his first marathon! I also forgot to mention that I got to see the marathon winner come in and finish. That was pretty awesome too!

We knew it would be at least an hour before we had anyone else come in so James and I headed over to the Peabody to see if they were showing the pay per view fight Saturday night. After that we headed back to the hotel and I had intentions of getting our bags moved back to our original room. We did luck out and catch the trolley so it only took maybe 5-10 minutes to get there. Still plenty of time for me to get back to the finish line. When I got to my room my key wouldn't work so I had to go back downstairs to get another one. But, Jane's son was at the stadium and not the hotel so I couldn't move our bags back. Time was running out and I had to get back to the finish line to watch Brenda finish so I took off. Unfortunately the trolleys were all going the other way and I had 15 minutes before the 4:00 race time mark. Brenda needed a 4:00:59 to BQ and I was determined to not miss seeing her make it. I ended up running and walking all the way back to the stadium. Walked in and the clock was showing 3:58 I think. I found Cindy and asked her if Brenda had come in yet and she said no. I knew there was some cushion though because the race was chip timed and it could have been 10-15 minutes to cross the start. I was hoping at least for Brenda who had worked and trained so hard for this race. Something told me though that the extreme cold temps had slowed some people down and I was right. As the clock ticked past the 4:01 time we all got more and more anxious. Our little group of spectators was almost chanting, "come on Brenda," "come on Brenda". Well, she gave it her all and it was just not the day to do it. Her final time was 4:07 and change I think. Still an awesome time but the course and weather conditions just didn't let the BQ happen. I have no doubt that it will happen on the next one! Next came Andrea, Bailey, Michele, Robert and Jane.

Annette had called me when she was at mile 22 pretty upset. She was cramping and was having to walk. I told her to take some electrolytes and drink some water. This was all before Brenda came in and I kept texting her trying to keep her updated. She sent me a text later saying she was at mile 24. I knew her ultimate goal of 4:45 was not going to happen but her under 5 hour goal was still doable. If only we knew what time her garmin had! It was like sitting on pins and needles watching the race clock as it went past the 5:00 mark. Brenda said her time was almost 15 minutes off so that was encouraging. Then as the clock was about to show 5:10 I saw a lady in pink come running in. It was Jackie. And then behind her was Annette. They were going to finish right together. It was an awesome sight. They crossed as the clock said 5:11 something but everyone said they were under 5 hours. That was all that mattered. I took off to meet them. The bad thing about this marathon is that afterwards, all the runners have to walk up stairs to get out of the stadium. Is that cruel or what?? Anyway, I was there at the top when Jackie and Annette made it there. Annette was happy but pretty upset that she missed her 4:45. She said a cop let a car through an intersection and she had to stop running real fast which caused her to cramp up. Irregardless her 4:57:53 is an awesome time and a big PR for her. Kelly finished a few minutes back behind Annette and she also had a big PR.

Unfortunately I couldn't stay around to celebrate. It was 1:30 pm and I had to have our stuff out of that room by 2:00. So I took off leaving Annette with the others. Luckily Jane and the boys had already went that way too. Again I missed the trolley so I fast walked it back. And again, my room key wouldn't work. Got new ones, they wouldn't work. Finally the maid let me in as she saw all the trouble I was having to go through. She must have wondered what the hell was going on when she saw me moving bag after bag from one room to the other. I just said, we are crazy runners! All the while this was going on Annette was calling telling me they had walked to a Mexican Restaurant to eat and for Jane and I to come join them. Once we had everything situated we took off for the restaurant. Again we missed the trolley but it was good for Jane to get some walking in anyway. Had some good food and a couple beers at the Mexican place. All the marathon finishers were hobbling around. Must have been at least 15 of us that ate there.

We lucked out and made the trolley back to the hotel. When we got back Jane and her gang started grabbing their bags to head home. One of the maids knocked on the door and handed us some shoes. I guess I had left a pair of Annette's running shoes in the other room. The maid had remembered the room we were in because of all of the confusion. Robert and Kelly also had stuff in our room so it was a whirlwind again, everyone getting their stuff and changing to head home.

Annette and I stayed the night and later met up with James, Michele, Phil, Jackie, Bob, Lisa, Ken and Debbie. Made it down to Beale Street for some food, fun and more walking. Ended up at BB King's place where Annette and I even got some dancing in. I was amazed that she could dance after running a marathon! We also got to see a parade of Santa Claus's walking down Beale Street. Now that was a weird sight!! We were all back at the hotel before midnight. It was a fun night with some great friends and running companions.

Unfortunately neither Annette or I got a good nights sleep. The room was either too hot or the pillows were too flat. I ended up getting up pretty early, got coffee and then we ended up meeting James and Michele for a breakfast buffet. It was awesome! Headed home about 10:45 ending an awesome weekend in Memphis. Hopefully next year it won't be as cold and maybe I'll get to run St Jude's for once.

I'll try to post some photos that I took later.

1 comment:

ShirleyPerly said...

OK, now you've definitely convinced me it is easier being a runner in a race than a spectator :-)

Great to hear Annette broke 5 hours and PRd. And, yes, those stairs you have to climb to get to the food and exit are brutal.