Sunday, December 07, 2008

Race Results: St. Jude Memphis Marathon

Saturday, Dec 6, 2008: 26.2 miles, R3/W1, 4:36:48, 10:34/mile

Quick Summary

The Memphis Marathon came together wonderfully. Darrell and I ran the race together, hoping for a 4:40. We beat that by just over three minutes; better yet was a smooth, event-free race. Darrell knocked off his first marathon in a year; I qualified for insanity. Some ITB inflammation remains but does not take away from a terrific race weekend.

The Details

There is so much to say about this weekend, I’ll spread it out over several posts. For this report, I’ll give you the facts. Philosophizing will keep for later.

I made the eight-hour drive to Memphis Friday afternoon, meeting Darrell mid afternoon. Race registration was very smooth and the expo was nice. We walked downtown, got a good look at the finish line at Memphis’ AAA baseball park and then met David and his wife for dinner. What a treat! Running was a key topic but the conversation ranged much more widely than just the obvious connection.

Race morning started early. I snuck out of the room around 5am (start time was 8am) and hung out in the lobby for a while. This is always fun at a host hotel…lots of folks milling around, nervous energy abounds. We walked the half mile to the starting line around 7 and saw David again. He was gunning for a sub-4 hour race and lined up ahead of us. Darrell and I had decided on a 4:40 goal, so headed for the correct corral. Mostly we just tried to stay warm. Start temp was in the low 30s; “throw away” sweats were the fashion choice of the day for most folks.

Our corral crossed the start line about 8:20 am and finally we were moving. Our pace called for 10:28 miles through the first 19 miles, using a 3/1 run/walk plan. The first mile was fairly crowded and took us 11:01. We began to pick our way through the pack and found more of a rhythm. By mile 5, we had shed our throw-away sweats (though we found ours later, thanks to a curious ecclesiastical coincidence) and were 5 seconds ahead of pace. Two layers of tech shirts plus gloves seemed to be adequate.

The race then settled out. We headed for a big loop of the city. One porta-pottie stop modified the pace a bit around mile 8 but by mile 10, we were still 8 seconds ahead of pace. There were lots of folks running; the half marathon had 8,000 entrants and the full marathon had 3,000, so there was no shortage of conversation. Darrell was great to be with. He also tolerated my less-than-generous view of the plaintive wails from some local female folk singers along the course—friendship extends some space at times.

Heading back to downtown, we finally separated with the half marathoners. We suddenly had a lot more room to run. We crossed the half-marathon timing mat at 2:16:34. We did some quick math and realized this was leaving us in good shape for a 4:40 full marathon.

Other math exercises bothered me a bit. My own hydration plan called for 20 oz of water per hour. Yet, at the halfway mark, I was drinking at half that pace. I had let the cool temperatures make me think I needed less water. I reloaded my bottles at a water stop and started drinking more. At mile 15, we were 45 seconds ahead of pace and feeling positive, enjoying the second loop through Memphis.

And I expected something would then “happen.” I first noticed the left ITB around mile 16. It took me a little while to grasp just what was going on but soon it was unmistakable. Yep, that was the ITB, talking to me again. What to do? While I had tried to find “flat” parts of the road to run on all along, the overall camber of the route sloped to the right. At this point I became a lot more diligent (desperate?) to get to the middle of the road, trying to stay flat. The pain lessened somewhat as I did this. I don’t know if it is connected or not, but the more fluid I drank, the easier the pain seemed as well.

By mile 19, we were at the far part of the course and made the turn for a long straight shot to downtown. The trees arching over the mature residential street was a terrific setting. We hit mile 21 and had 3:45 ahead of the pace we needed for a 4:40. I had the ITB, Darrell was persevering with quad pain yet the 3/1 rhythm just seemed to be working fine. Around mile 24, we got tired and added about 30 seconds per mile to the pace. But, by then, we could see the lights of the ball park and knew we’d finish.

Around mile 25.5, I had some concerns about just what my ITB was going to do, so let Darrell go on ahead; he was on a roll and I didn’t want to slow him. I quit taking any walk breaks, as it was easier to simply run and not stop and start. Darrell did the same. We rounded a corner, ran onto the ball field through the right-center field wall, followed the warning track to the right-field foul pole, finishing midway to first base. Darrell finished about 30 seconds ahead of me and waited for me to cross. Huge smiles and a big hug awaited. We were done and had achieved our goal.

There is nothing quite adequate to describe the finish of a marathon. This was my tenth and it never gets old, even though each one is unique. Why is this so?? That will be another post.

There’s much more to describe; I’ll post more later along with some photos. Being with Darrell was simply huge; we have a lot in common and enjoy the time together. Meeting up with with David was also a big treat. A well organized race is always a joy. So, for now, share the joy with me. Three marathons this fall and it’s been good to run with perseverance through it all.


John said...

Always fun to read your post-race analysis, Joe, thanks for another great write-up!

All went well for you race-wise, and to top it all off, the Cubs won the Series!!

Mir said...

Great job!! And a Marathon Maniac too, nice! I can't even imagine running that many.

Unknown said...

Sounds like it was a great marathon and glad to hear that you and Darrell decided to stick it out together. Congrats on your Marathon Maniac status and welcome to the Insane Asylum.

Darrell said...

It sure was a good time. I can't imagine I'd have had even a quarter of the fun if I had tried to run the 4:20 or some other number on my own.

We'll have to plan something in 2009 so you can have your annual bowl of ice cream.

Anonymous said...

It is Laura and Courtney, the girls with the neon shirts with Hebrews 12:1 on our backs!!! We remembered to check our your blog! Awesome running Saturday!!! Hope you had a safe trip home!!!! :)

Backofpack said...

Yay Maniac Joe! Way to go - welcome to the nut house! Congrats on a great race and a fun run with Darrell. Hope the ITB settles back down. I'll look forward to reading more!

Pat said...

congrats on becoming a maniac. glad you and darrell had a great time, despite the pain.

I got to get up to your pace, so that I can run with you next time I'm in Purdue country.

Wes said...

Congratulations on a job well done!! Cold weather can toy with your hydration strategy. I remember the first time it got cold here after a summer of riding the bike. I kept to my hydration strategy and had to pee like six times in two hours. Not a good thing!! Congrats to you both. I missed you guys this year. Hopefully life will settle down for me next year and I will be able to find y'all somewhere.

Journey to a Centum said...

Joe you crazy mainiac!

Nice work pushing through the ITB issue and for your recovery on the hydration problem once realized.

Sounds like you had a fun time with Darrell and from the looks of your comments even picked up a couple of new fans! Next time they see you at a marathon you'll be sporting a nice Marathon Maniac shirt!

Math is an interesting challenge after running 18-20 miles. I suppose I would get better at it if I didn't have my Garmin to fall back on when I need to determine my average pace.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on a Great Race...I was really good to have dinner with you and Joe. Where is the race next December?

Sarah said...

Welcome to the Insane Asylum!!! Nice job sticking with the plan. Sounds like a fun day. : )

David said...

Sounds like you were totally comfortable with the plan and the execution, making adjustments as necessary. Running with Darrell would make it all the better. Good job.

Jenny, Maniac #401 said...

Congrats Joe! I would like to run the Memphis Marathon someday to honor the memory of my grandparents who lived a couple of hours east. I love Tennessee. So beautiful. Way to be a maniac too! It does crazy things to you. Just look at me, what AM I thinking?? So cool to get to run with Darrell too what a great guy. I am always searching out the flat parts of the road for that darned IT!! Rest up and look forward to the next adventure!

IronWaddler said...

Great job Joe and kudos on reaching your goal especially with the ITB going on!!!

Annette said...

St. Jude is an awesome race and you got to share it with a friend... sounds like a great experience to me!

Anonymous said...