Jimmy, Julie, Clay, and Leanna all loaded up Friday just after lunch to travel on icy roads to Memphis for the St. Jude Marathon and Half Marathon. (Leah and Sam stayed at Granmomma and Pop's house with Megan serving as chief babysitter!) The weather forecast was dismal--freezing rain all day Friday, and then temperatures hovering in the twenties for that night. I think the predicted high for race day, Saturday was 30 degrees.
We were prepared. We had all packed multiple layers to run the race in. Then we all packed another set of multiple layers to check in a bag before the race in order to have dry clothes to put on after the race. This was especially important for Julie and Clay who were running the half marathon. They would be waiting at least 2 hours for me to finish the marathon.
We checked into our hotel and loaded up into the Mims's van to drive all together to the race expo.
The whole crew (minus Kelly--taking the picture) at our hotel.
The expo is normally jam packed with people. So many people, that I get a little bit claustrophobic.
Not this time. The expo was like a ghost town. We quickly got our race bibs and shirts, and then proceeded to explore the fairly empty expo booths. It was strange. Everyone was talking about the ice and the temperatures and the fact that Dallas had already cancelled their Saturday marathon earlier in the day. The big question was, "Would the St. Jude Marathon be cancelled?" Official race emails stated that the decision would be made no later than 5AM race morning.
So we shopped and visited and took pictures--just like always.
We are wearing Kenneth's Boston Log shirts.
Leanna, Me, Lynn, and Julie
Parker and Clay
All of us!
We left the expo and then drove back to Southaven to the Olive Garden where we met some more friends who were staying at our hotel and also running the marathon.
An icy tree outside the restaurant
Our supper group
The happy couple
After supper it was still pretty early (6:00), so we all went to Target. You know we don't have a Target at home, so Lynn, Leanna, and I always like to visit a Target if there is one nearby. We were all leisurely browsing and visiting with one another when suddenly all of our phones began to receive texts, group texts, and emails….
The St. Jude Marathon was cancelled.
At first we were in disbelief. But there we were at 6:34 PM in Target receiving the news. We all completely understood the reasons for calling off the race. It was very cold. It was potentially dangerous for 20,000 people to drive to downtown Memphis the next morning, and it was way too cold for the thousands of race day volunteers to be outside for many, many hours in that freezing cold weather. We understood. But, honestly we were disappointed. We had trained so hard for this event. This was to be Leanna's very first marathon, and I was sad for her.
So for the next hour or so we just kept shopping in Target.
And then we had a Plan B.
A crazy, crazy, crazy Plan B.
Koach Williams was quickly organizing a group run for all St. Jude half and full marathon participants, along with any other crazy runners on Highway 350, Saturday morning at 10:00 AM. Before our logic kicked in, Leanna, Jimmy, Julie, and Clay all said, Yes! We are in! (Crazy!) Lynn has been suffering with a hip injury and Parker said no thank you to running in the cold, so they declined. (Smart!). But doesn't that sound like a perfectly sane idea? Your official marathon is cancelled because of inclement weather--freezing temperatures and moderate wind--so you just plan to run 26.2 miles anyway. It seemed like a good idea!
So we drove to Corinth Saturday morning. We arrived just before 10:00 AM. We were all bundled up and had hot hands inside our gloves. Julie and Clay were sporting surgical masks. We all gathered for instructions from Koach and then the group picture. We all wore our race bibs! Leanna was still going to get to run her very first marathon! The Highway 350 Marathon! She and I were the only ones doing the marathon. Nathan Hall had a 30 mile run planned, and so Jimmy's plan was going to run that distance with him. (Jimmy ended up doing 27.9 miles…..he had a pretty awful running experience too!) But Julie and Clay both set a PR!
Koach, giving us a pep talk and instructions.
A group of CRAZY PEOPLE!
Well, it all started out fine. We really were not that cold, believe it or not, but about 3 miles into it, Leanna and I began to question our sanity. Were we really running a MARATHON on our least favorite running route?? She and I had run Hwy. 350 for two or three of our training runs, and every time we say, "WE ARE NEVER RUNNING 350 AGAIN!" It is so hilly. Not a lot of little up and down hills, but four or five long, long, long hills. Brutal.
But we hung in there. After mile 4, we took a different path. We turned on a road called Ridge Road, which had several rolling hills instead of the super long hills of 350. This was a 5 mile detour that came out near the end of the 7.5 mile Hwy. 360 route. We ran a mile or so of 350 to the next water stop (Koach put out water and Powerade at three different points on the course), and then ran back to Ridge Road.
We were still ok. Our pace was good. We agreed to not stop our watches when we stopped for water or the potty, because in an official marathon you are on the clock from start to finish. We wanted an accurate time for our 26.2 mile run. So, while our average pace was slower than normal, our running pace was pretty much on target.
And then at mile 16, I suddenly developed severe, debilitating leg cramps down the backs on both of my legs. MY LEGS HURT SO BAD. I could not understand why. All of those long runs I had done. Miles and miles of training, and I had never had these leg cramps. (They were just like the ones I had when I was suddenly stopped at mile 25.8 at the Boston Marathon). We walked. My legs hurt. I stretched. My legs hurt. We ran. My legs hurt. After about a mile of this, I sent Leanna on ahead. She was feeling great, and I did not want to hold her back. We had agreed before the race that if I crashed during the race, she was to go ahead. I never, never dreamed than my legs would fail me like this.
I walked and cried and prayed alone for about 2 miles. The pain subsided a good bit, so I began to run slowly again. At some point I realized that we had miscalculated, and that if Leanna went to the end of Ridge Road again, she would be at mile 26.2 about 5 miles from the car! I hoped so badly that she would realize that we had done the math wrong before she had run too far. (That is normal for us girls who run together, by the way, for us to sometimes "do the math wrong" when we are calculating distance while running---brain fog from running all those miles!)
And then I saw Leanna! Yay! She had figured out that she needed to turn around! I ran with her about a quarter of a mile, but then my legs started cramping again, and I sent her on again. By this time, Koach had drove up to check on us. Leanna had about 5 miles to go, and I had about 6 ish. He left to go mark a Finish Line for Leanna, and then promised to come back to check on me. I told him I had been struggling. (What an understatement!). In fact, if Koach had showed up at between miles 16-18, I would have gotten in his truck and had a Did Not Finish. During that 2 miles of walking/slowing hobbling, my feet and fingers were frozen!
Koach came back. I was at about mile 21. I was crying again. I told him I was through running marathons. Through! He offered me all kinds of things from the back of his truck: BBQ chips, M&Ms, water, Powerade, a banana……I ate half a banana and drank a few sips of water. I just sat in the back of his truck, and tried to collect myself. I kept my watch running. I debated---I was so close to being done. This was my 5th marathon. I really wanted to finish. Koach figured the leg cramps were from dehydration. I had not drunk much (the water and Powerade gave me a brain freeze), and I had not eaten nearly enough for such a demanding run. Who knows? I decided to keep on running. Koach promised to come back after he checked on Leanna again.
I started running again. As soon as Koach was out of sight, I regretted my decision. Why did I not get into his truck? What was I thinking?? I walked a little bit more. The pain lessened, and then went away. I started running. I ran and I ran and I ran. Koach came back and I gave him thumbs up! I had pulled myself together. I knew then that I would finish! I ran the last 4 miles with only one walk break--at mile 25.2, I walked just a little bit so I knew that when I ran again, I would have less than one mile left.
I finally finished.
5 hours, 18 minutes.
WORST. RUN. EVER.
As miserable I as was though, I was so happy for Leanna! She finished way, way ahead of me! 4:43. Koach made her a finish line to cross!
Leanna, approaching the finish line of the Last Annual Highway 350 Marathon.
Koach was so sweet to stay out there all day with us. He also crafted Leanna a finisher's medal out of things he had in his truck! It said Hwy. 350 Marathon! He also gave her a 26.2 bracelet. Yay Leanna!
Now I have said this before. But this time I really, really mean it. I am not running another marathon!