Sunday, December 07, 2008

St. Jude Marathon

It has been a long road from Huntsville, Alabama to Memphis, Tennessee. Three hundred sixty four days from the Rocket City Marathon to the St. Jude Marathon.

It was a great experience. I feel like I'm back in the game and glad to have gotten the thirteenth state done and over with. My shin held up just fine. On the other hand my right quad had potential to be deal breaker. For the last couple of weeks it has been tender and sore, possibly a pull or strain. It has hurt periodically during my recent runs. I held up OK during the 10K's last weekend but on my easy run on Monday it was extremely painful. I hobbled through those 3 miles like Quasimoto. I decided not to run another step until Saturday. I was aware of it always, especially the first few steps after getting up from sitting down.

The fun started even before the race. Joe and I were roomies for the third time. We stopped by the Autozone Park to scope out the finish line. Joe is really in his element there on the ball field. Later we shared a great dinner with David and his wife, sharing stories of our kids, careers and "just a little bit" of running stuff. And it was COLD, at least for me; somewhere in the 30's as we walked back up Main Street to our hotel.

By the time race morning came around I had pretty much decided on my race strategy. With the uncertainty of the quad situation, I decided to run along with Joe. We'd each spent 8 hours or so getting there; me by plane, Joe by car; so why spend the 4 or more hours of the marathon running alone when I could share it a fellow blogger and good friend. I had some concerns about walking every 3 minutes; I'm used to 7 minutes on my long runs; but I needn't have worried. It was really never an issue.

The wave start worked wonderfully well. It was about 20 minutes after the start that we crossed the starting line and the pursuit of state 13 had begun. From the get go my right quad was in pain. It felt weak and almost like it would collapse at any minute. I tried not to hobble so as not to worry Joe. The first mile went slower than Joe had planned mostly due to the crowds but I feared that my hobbling had effected us as well. Joe was concerned for me. I kept going, the quad didn't get any worse. A couple of miles in Joe checked on me again. I told him it was still there and that I was just going to keep going. I think we were back on track by mile 3. As we ticked off the miles the discomfort grew less and we ticked off the miles running 3 minutes and walking 1 minute. Joe kept track of everything. I walked when he told me to walk. I ran when he told me to run. He kept me up to date on our progress to the goal, 4:40, at every mile marker. I think we were always at least a few seconds ahead of schedule from mile 3 on.

We even synchronized our bathroom break. I'd been feeling like I could stop but wasn't in panic mode yet and didn't want to upset the rhythm. When Joe mentioned that he needed to stop I jumped on the chance to take care of business. The break cost us about 90 seconds which we made up fairly quickly by skipping the next scheduled walk break. We even got smart somewhere along the way and postponed or expedited the walk break on the uphills (which were really more like inclines) and the got right back on schedule the next time the watch beeped. It worked incredibly well.

It is just a hoot running along with Joe. He high fived the kids, stopped to pet a beautiful golden retriever, thanked every police officer on the route, belted out some Elvis tunes, heckled the mime, and did a great English Lit prof imitation. Joe meets a friend everywhere. We met Maniacs, Fifty Stater's, Army, National Guard, Team Weber, and St Jude Heroes. It was way more fun than gutting out 26.2 miles alone. There was no doubt I'd made the right decision.

We both felt pretty good right up to about mile 22. Around then it took me a little longer to coax my legs to start running after the minute walk. Around mile 23 my right IT band starting letting me know it was there. A mile later Joe's left IT band "started barking" at him. Very near the end it really seized up and he urged me onward. About a half mile from the finish there was a sharp U-turn to the right up a ramp. My right leg nearly collapsed on me then. I hung on and ended up crossing the finish line in 4:36:15 (official). Joe was about 30 seconds behind.

I was pleased to have completed marathon 16, state 13. I wasn't back full strength but I was back. I owe a deep debt of gratitude to my wife for taking the risk on me back in July and planning this trip. And a huge Thank You to Joe for meeting up for the third December in a row and allowing me to run along with him. The St. Jude Marathon was quite the experience.

24 comments:

Joe said...

Nice write up, Darrell...you captured the race well!! I'm not sure the Elvis dude would be quite so positive on the experience, but, hey, his hair sure looked authentic/greasy!!

Yeah, it was terrific to run together...I enjoyed it to the hilt. I have so much to say...it'll keep my blog going for a while!!

Thanks a ton, Darrell...you're a real pal.

robtherunner said...

What a great way to run a marathon. I'm glad to hear that the issues leveled off as the race went on and you finished close together. On to state #14!

Greg said...

Great race report, man, made me feel like I was there.

Nick said...

Awesome. I was thinking about you all day on your run. Glad you made it without any major issues.

Now, where is the next one?

Pat said...

man, I wish I would have run with you guys. sounds like a great time. even with the pain involved.

Burger said...

Darrell - great job on nailing state #13!

Enjoyed your race report and more importantly, glad you enjoyed the race. Good job!

Legs and Wings said...

I know it was good for you to run with Joe. Otherwise, your quad may have talked you out of the race in the early going.

Congratulations Darrell! What's next?

Danny said...

lucky number 13!

don't know how you stuck through it when you were hobbling on mile 1! but i guess the pain went away, so i hope you're all right...

congratulations!

Jean said...

Way to go, Darrell! Very nice report. This sounds like it was a great race. Congratulations on the race, as well as getting your 13th state! :)

ShoreTurtle said...

Congratulations on lucky 13!

Backofpack said...

Darrell,
Congratulations on a great come back! Running with Joe sounds like a lot of fun. Hope the quad and ITB settle back down soon. Next state?

Wes said...

Just awesome. I missed you guys as well. Maybe next year will be better to me, time wise. Congrats Darrell! Excellent effort!

Journey to a Centum said...

Hobbling along for 26.2 miles on a bum quad sounds rough. Fortunatly you had Joe and Elvis to distract you from the discomfort.

Hope the quad heals up OK and that no compensation injuries such as your IT flair up during recovery. Sounds like an ice bath was totally in your future after the race.

13 down 37 to go!

Neese said...

congratulations on another marathon finish! :o)

lindsay said...

great race recap! i had considered doing this race a few months ago but picked one closer to home instead. it sounds like a good time and i'll have to make it to the starting line soon. congrats on another marathon and hope your aches heal up fast!

david said...

It surly was a good race and a good day. Gayle and I really enjoyed supper Friday night. Where is the race next December?

BTW... your were correct, Kiawah was this past weekend.

David said...

I like the notion of someone telling me when to do this or that in-race. Takes the mental stress right out of it. Good for you to have Joe along for the run.
He sure didn't sound like he was worrying about your ailments in his post. Maybe there's more to come later :)
Good race. You're back.

Anne said...

Now this is one marathon story that has some legs. Glad you made it, and under your predicted time no less!

angie's pink fuzzy said...

way to go - congrats!!!

RunningLaur said...

Congrats on the race, and a great read of a race report!
You make a convincing case for everyone to slow down and enjoy the trip of a marathon (or at least one of them), and making the best of a race with an injury.

Hope you heal quickly!

Donald said...

You're back!! Way to go, Darrell. This was a great write up on a race I'm not too familiar with.

Rest up, let your body heal, and enjoy your accomplishment.

DREW said...

Let me jump on the pile here and say congratuations. I'm sure it felt good to finally get another marathon under your belt.

Heah, you don't have Colorado out of the way yet do you?

And to answer you question, my father-in-law has not continued running, but I'm going to work on him over Christmas

Annette said...

Congrats on your marathon! I also ran the St. Jude marathon last Saturday. Those wicked slanted roads probably didn't help your quad or IT band. I love this race but the roads really are not a runners friend!!

Rae said...

Great job! Memphis is such a fun race, and for a great cause. I'm glad you had a blast in TN!