My parents arrived around lunchtime on Friday to keep Clay, Leah, and Sam. Jimmy, Olivia, Julie, and I left at 1:30, headed to Memphis! The round of texting between Kelly and Lynn, Scott and Barbara, Stacee, Leanna, and Megan began and Jimmy and me began. How did we ever communicate before texting?
We met Scott, Barbara, Kelly, Lynn, Megan, Yonea, Julie M., and Amber at the Expo. We all picked up our race packets, activated our timing chips, got our t shirts, and then shopped and visited. Lynn and I were on a mission to buy a hat with a cute saying. While we were all looking around, Olivia and Julie found the Disney Princess Half Marathon table where they were handing out princess crowns. Of course we all had to have one!
Princesses Julie, Olivia, and Mama
Jimmy, Kelly, Lynn, and I are actually running the Disney Half Marathon next year (and Jimmy is running the Full too---just not the Princess one.)
Hanging out at the Expo
Amber, Julie M., Olivia, Kelly, Julie, Me, Lynn, and Yonea
Princess Megan found the girls.
We laughed and laughed while reading the sayings on all of the shirts and hats. Some of our favorites were:
"I am only running this race so I can put my picture on Facebook"
"If found on ground, please drag across the finish line" I got this shirt.
"I know, I know, I'm almost there" Yonea got this shirt.
"Running is cheaper than therapy" I got this hat.
I think Lynn's hat simply said, "13.1".
After shopping and laughing and visiting and laughing even more, we all met at the Spaghetti Warehouse for our pre-race supper. This is our 3rd year to run St. Jude, and our 3rd year to enjoy our pre-race meal at the Spaghetti Warehouse.
The whole crew enjoying some pasta.
Jimmy and Me
After our meal we checked into our hotel. This year we stayed at a hotel right across from the finish line and about two blocks away from the starting line. Very convenient. We walked a couple of blocks to Starbucks for a coffee dessert.
trying to stay warm in Starbucks
I think we ran off everyone else in the coffee shop--we were a little loud--Scott kept us all laughing our heads off!
Next we walked down to the Peabody Hotel to admire the Christmas decorations. The lobby was lively!
Olivia, Julie, and Me at the Peabody
Then it was time to retire. Since Lynn and I are night owls, while everyone else was settling in bed, she and I checked and rechecked the weather forecast for race day morning. We debated about what to wear. We changed our minds several times before we finally decided. Jimmy pinned on our families' bib number and put the D tags on our shoes. Then we tried to sleep.
Race Day Morning! We all dressed, packed, checked and rechecked everything, and then we met all of our friends in the hotel lobby at 7:00 AM. We drank coffee and nervously chatted while we waited until time to walk to the starting line. We said our good-byes, and well wishes, and separated into various groups--at a race this large, each person lines up in a starting corral based on their running pace.
Jimmy, Julie, and Heather (one of our cross country coaches) lined up together. Their plan was to run the half-marathon together, and then Jimmy would run the rest of his marathon alone. I am not sure which corral Stephen, Kelly, or Scott got in, but Lynn, Stacee, Mark, Leanna, Olivia, and I all lined up together. Once the race began, I didn't see Olivia again until after the race. Stacee and Leanna are Jimmy's first cousins, and Mark is Stacee's husband. This was Leanna's first half marathon (and actually her very first race of any distance), and Mark was running this race with very little recent training. Of course Mark still finished strong! The five of us stayed together for the first 9 miles. I had the best time, talking and visiting. This was probably my most fun half marathon. I enjoyed running at a pace where I did not feel like I was dying the entire time! After taking my second pack of Jet Blackberry Gu, I had a burst of energy, and I told the others that I was going to speed up a little bit. I caught up with Kelly at mile 10.5, and he was going strong. This was his very first marathon, and we were all nervous for him.
I ran the last 4 miles at a much quicker pace that I ran the first 9, and I finished with a time of 2 hours, 9 minutes. Mark finished in 2:11, Leanna and Stacee in 2:12, and Lynn in 2:14. Olivia had finished earlier in 1:58 and Julie and Heather in 1:50. Julie won 2nd and Olivia 3rd in the 11-15 age division, out of 31 runners. Way to go girls!
trying to stay warm before the race
We all hung around the finish line for a while waiting for all of our friends to finish, and then we enjoyed post-race refreshments and settled in to wait for Jimmy and Kelly to complete the full marathon.
Scott, Barbara, and Stephen
Scott ran the half, and Barbara set a PR in the 5K. Congrats Barbara! Stephen had a most impressive half marathon. He finished in 1:47, and his only running training over the last three months was one 1.25 mile run in quarter mile intervals! Incredible!
Julie M. Yonea, and Lynn
Olivia and Hannah
Amber, Heather, and Sarah
I secured a spot to take Jimmy's picture as he finished his marathon, and then he sent me a text. It read:
"Mile 23. Dying"
He ran with his phone, so I was able to track him right into the stadium. We all cheered wildly as he entered the stadium. Go Jimmy!
Jimmy approaching the finish line
Jimmy finished the marathon (his 3rd one) in 3 hours, 47 minutes. He was disappointed in his time (which was only less than a minute slower than his last year's time), but I am so proud of him! Training for a marathon takes dedication and determination, and finishing a marathon is such a huge accomplishment, one that very, very, few people ever achieve.
After Jimmy recovered a little bit, he, Lynn, and I left the stadium to walk the race course backwards to look for Kelly. We didn't have to go far, about a half a mile or so, and then we spotted him! Still jogging! Lynn ran the last half mile in with him. We are all so proud of Kelly for completing his first marathon!
Lynn and Kelly after the marathon
Our last stop after everyone finished the race was Huey's. This has also become a St. Jude Race Weekend tradition. Huey's burgers are delicious, especially after a long day of running. Heather brought a van full of Olivia's and Julie's friends to watch the race, and they all joined us for a late lunch.
Olivia and Julie decided in August not to drink any soft drinks until after the St. Jude Half Marathon. Not one single coke! I am so proud of them and their willpower. They set a goal and achieved it. To celebrate, they ordered a coke at Huey's!
Olivia taking her first sip
Julie taking her first sip
Jimmy and Me
Barbara and Scott wearing the cute race t shirts
Kelly (in his marathon finisher's shirt) and Lynn
Stacee and Mark
Heather and Julie M.
Joe and Leanna
Joe was a spectator this year--hopefully we inspired him, and he will join us running next year!
It really was a delightful weekend. Fun memories!