Sunday, December 6, 2009

St. Jude Marathon Weekend

Jimmy and I left for our little getaway about 12:30 Friday turned out to be the most FABULOUS 2 days! Upon arriving in Memphis, we visited the Expo where we picked up our race numbers, timing chips and t-shirts. Next we spent a couple of hours hanging around the Expo, shopping and visiting with people. While we were there, we were joined by Lynn and Kelly, Emily and Mark, and Russ....sadly Megan couldn't leave until late afternoon to make the 3 hour trip....she missed out on the Expo fun and dinner too! Lynn, Emily, and I spent a lot of our time trying on the cutest little headbands/earwarmers. We all ended up buying a couple! We were prepared to keep our ears warm and look cute at the race! As usual, Jimmy knew half the people there (well, not half! but a lot of people), so we visited with lots of friends. Fun!
our little group in the lobby of the Expo....I think Russ is talking to Megan on the phone!
After the Expo, we were ready for our pre-race meal. As we were walking through our hotel lobby to go to our van, we ran into Santa!

Emily, Me, Santa, and Lynn

Posing in front of a pretty tree in the hotel lobby
We enjoyed a delicious meal at the Spaghetti Warehouse. My entree was not cooked by mistake, but I shared with Jimmy, and between the 6 of us we still had enough leftovers to take to Stephen--another local friend who was running the Half....he had a late start to Memphis too. He arrived at the restaurant just as we were leaving, so he took his food to the hotel lobby to eat and visit with us. We all drank coffee while Stephen ate, and just like at the restaurant, we laughed and laughed until we were crying. It was so much fun! A little side note....this was the first time for Jimmy and me to go on an overnight trip alone in over 4 years!

Jimmy and Me at the restaurant

We planned for an early meeting time the next morning--6:00 in the hotel lobby. Stephen and Russ and Megan drove in to downtown Memphis to join us at our hotel. We enjoyed our morning coffee, and Lynn and I ate our pre-race breakfast of M&Ms!

Stephen and Kelly

Lynn, Me, and Emily sporting our new headbands

The three of us plus two of our other friends who ran the half spent much time over the last week discussing our running wardrobe. We wanted to be warm, but not wear so many layers that we couldn't move! The temperature at the race start was 26 degrees! We wore 4 layers on top, and 2 layers on bottom, plus gloves and our new fashionable, color-coordinated headwarmers! This reminded me of a quote in a running book....."Women who run in full make-up are not fast. Women who run in full make-up (and in our case color coordinating running attire too) do not care that they are not fast!

Brothers--Jimmy (running the full marathon) and Russ (running the half like the rest of us)

Emily and Me--warming up with coffee before braving the cold!

Jimmy and Me

Megan and Russ

Megan was the official race day photographer. She did not run and neither did Emily's husband Mark. They were our cheering squad and support group. We are all so grateful to both of them! Megan made the cutest t-shirt to show her support. You can see the front of it in the above picture. It says, Run Johnsons, Run! And on the back it has Russ's, Jimmy's and my name....very cute. Too bad no one else saw it! It was so cold that she had to keep bundled up in fleece pullovers and a heavy coat!

the back of the shirt

Kelly and Lynn

Jimmy brought us disposable cath lab gowns to wrap up in for our 1 mile walk to the starting line. We kept them on until minutes before we began to run.

Jimmy giving us instructions for putting them on

Jimmy helping me with mine

Julie and Yonea joined us at the hotel before the race too. They had new, cute headbands also! They both had witty sayings on them, but I can't remember what they were!!

Ready for the walk to the stadium!

Walking with hundreds of other racers and spectators

Russ and I are checking our bags....we all packed a change of clothes for after the race.

Sweet Megan! What a trooper to be out in the freezing (or below) cold for hours, just to lend her support! Thanks, Megan!

This was my fourth half-marathon, and the race itself was the worst one I have experienced. I felt so sad when I told Julie, Yonea, Lynn, and Emily good-bye at the race start---I had set a goal of trying to beat my previous half-marathon time of 2 hours, 1 minute.....I wanted to try to finish in under 2 I started in a corral ahead of my friends. For some reason (I can't remember why now!) I didn't bring my iPod. So there I was, lined up with thousands of people, all alone. It seemed to me that everyone else either had a friend to talk to or was enjoying their music. I had neither, and before the race even began, I was discouraged. So I ran the entire 13.1 miles wishing I had run with my friends. I ran hard, but I fell short of my goal. In fact, my legs just were giving out after mile 11, and I walked probably 4 times those last 2 miles....finally, I finished with a time of 2 hours, 4 minutes. I decided that I will not do a long run again without friends or music.....and I would rather run with friends!

Can you see me in the turquoise, approaching the finish line?! Megan said I was the only one she actually saw cross! I spotted both her and Stephen as I finished. Stephen and Russ finished ahead of me.

Here I am, about to receive my finisher's medal

Stephen and I found each other and sat in the grass near the finish line and watched for the rest of our group to finish.

Megan and Russ after the race

When all of us half-marathoners finished our race, we enjoyed some post-race refreshments and then positioned ourselves to cheer Jimmy across the marathon finish line. Stephen was our spotter--he stood near the entrance of the stadium. When he saw Jimmy approaching he texted Megan who was behind the finisher's side dugout, and he signalled to me---sitting in the grass on the field. Then I waved my silver blanket in the air to notify the rest of the group who were sitting in the stands. We all cheered loudly and happily, and I tried to run with him the last little bit....but I couldn't keep up! I was so very proud of Jimmy! His finishing time was super--3 hours, 46 minutes!

Russ and Jimmy right after Jimmy finished

Jimmy, Stephen, and Russ
Jimmy and Me after the race

All of us after the race
We ended the morning by walking the mile back to the hotel. That helped work out some of the soreness and stiffness we were all experiencing. Then we met at Huey's for a late lunch. More fun! After a quick trip to Target (can't go to Memphis without visiting Target!), we all went home.
A fabulous trip!
I cannot thank my parents enough for keeping my children so I could have this wonderful experience. The children all did fine without me! As soon as I walked in the door, Sam got his pacifier, crawled in my lap, took a ten second sniff of my hair, and fell asleep!


  1. We had a great time! Congratulations on such a great race to all!

  2. So sorry that you had a bad time with no music or friends. My first half marathon was exactly like that. I had planned on taking my music but decided at the last minute not to take it because we were all going to stay together the whole way. Needless to say, I did the whole thing by myself and I was totally miserable. So now, I always have my MP3 in my pocket just in case. I had a marvelous time this weekend and would have enjoyed seeing you all after the race, but we left so we could get home. See you soon!

  3. That sounds like a fun trip! I'm so jealous that you and your husband do this together. My husband is not into running. I tease him that now that he's hit mid-life it's time for a good mid-life crisis and competing in triathlons would be the perfect new hobby for us to get into. He just laughs and says that's not likely. He did come out to support me when I ran a 5k one time and brought several of the kids, too. They were all traumatized by it. They were like that's mom? I did not run in make-up and evidently looked pretty scary to the whole family.

  4. EJ said he had a great time seeing y'all at the Expo! I loved reading your full account of the race weekend here, because I definitely did not get that much out of him--just a finishing time 3:34! :) I hope to be running the half next year. Alicen

  5. Fun, Fun... I am sorry you didn't enjoy your race, but your time was great! Way to go, Jimmy as well! He and Esther were right together! Looking forward to seeing you soon!

  6. Great job, Roan!!
    What a wonderful accomplishment!