Yesterday, the D-man and I ran the St. Jude Memphis Marathon.
The expo was held at the Memphis Cook Convention Center. It was a medium-sized expo, with a lot of St. Jude Hospital apparel for sale, as well as the normal expo vendors. We grabbed our bibs and shirts, and browsed the goods for about a half hour.
My sister lives right off the $1 downtown trolley, so we headed back to her place to relax before dinner.
We wanted something simple for dinner, so LL took us to the Spaghetti Warehouse. It was a lot like the Spaghetti Factory in our city.
The weekend included a 1/2 marathon, marathon, and 5k. The marathon and 1/2 marathon started together, and we actually were with them for 12 miles. There are 17,000 runners between the 3 events, but only 2,300 full marathoners. That was definitely a con of the marathon, especially since after the 1/2’ers left us, the crowd definitely thinned out.
This blog (here) give a great review of the course. Here are some highlights:
The course is not flat… but it is not hilly either. There are some gently rolling hills throughout with a few key, short, overpass inclines to negotiate.
|The final 3 miles of the half-marathon and the final 10K of the marathon are downhill|
|Autozone Park has covered areas in case of inclement weather, restrooms and is the location of bag check
and the finish line
|The race begins in the shadow of FedEx Forum at 4th and Beale|
|One of the best views of downtown Memphis and the Mississippi River greets you as you run down Riverside Drive. Take advantage of this nearly one mile downhill all the way to Beale St.|
|The Beale St Hill|
|You are rewarded with a downhill and the biggest crowds of the day on Beale St. as you make your way back past Autozone Park and mile 3.|
Between miles 7 and 8 you will pass the Overton Park Zoo on your right and Rhodes College on your left.
Overton Park is the site of many local 5Ks and offers a nice tree-lined setting. However, be prepared for the 2nd surprise hill of the day.
|After you pass the Memphis College of Art you take a hard left and face a fairly challenging hill at mile 9.5|
|Art Museum Hill is about 350 yds long. It is manageable as long as you know it is coming.|
After exiting the park and turning right on Poplar the half-marathoners are headed for home. The marathoners are headed to… well… halfway.
|At mile 12.5 the half-marathoners turn right on Marshall and the marathoners continue straight on Union.|
Miles 14 through 17.5 will lead you out Linden and then Peabody, a beautiful, tree-lined street in the historic Central Gardens neighborhood.
|Peabody will roll a bit but has no significant climbs|
|When you pass under this decorative railroad trestle you will be in the Cooper-Young district of shops and restaurants and soon pass mile 18|
When you exit Young Ave onto East Parkway you face two short hills between 19 and 19.5 miles as you pass under the railroad bridge near Christian Brothers University and the Union Ave. overpass. The downhills will hurt more than the short inclines. Once you get past these obstacles you are soon rewarded with mile 20 at Poplar and East Parkway.
Turn left onto North Parkway you will retrace your steps past Rhodes College and the Zoo (mile 21). It is flat except for the underpass/ overpass combo at mile 22.5 and mile 23. The short downhills will hurt more than the uphills. Be prepared mentally.
|Between miles 23 and 24 you will begin to see glimpses of the Pyramid in the distance. Stay focused but know that the end is near!|
|You will pass mile 25 on Alabama St. just before making this right turn onto Danny Thomas Blvd|
|Pass under Union then turn right to run up the entrance ramp|
One last short incline awaits as you take the ramp up to Union Ave. Once you turn left onto Union, mile 26 and Autozone Park are visible. You have about 600 yards to go! Run down Union for approximately 350 yds. Turn right on 4th and the stadium entrance is less than 175 yds away.
- Water stops- every mile! Amazing. The Gatorade was also not very potent, which was nice.
- GU’s handed out on the course 4 times
- Fan support- many spectators played loud music and were dancing and cheering very enthusiastically.
- Great finish line in the AutoZone stadium
- Weather- Perfect! The temperature at the starting line was 46 degrees. The finish was around 65 degrees. The sun was shining and there was only a small breeze.
- The focus was on the 1/2 marathon- the fans definitely thinned after the 1/2
- The marathon actually repeated part of the course
- Volunteers at the expo- I hate to complain about the volunteers, since they are volunteering…but we asked some questions at the Information Booth, and the volunteers really didn’t have a clue. For example, we asked the Information Booth about the gear check. The volunteer said that the gear check was not secured, and that you had to make your own tags. However, once we got home, we realized that indeed that was a bag tag included, and the gear check was completely secured. We also asked about GU’s on the course, and were told that there were none- but there were 4-5 GU stations!
- Course marshalls were not policing all the intersections, and LL told me that she witnessed a car accident, as well as several near-accidents with runners and drivers! Eeeks…
- The last mile of the race was not near the crowds, and it was on a freeway underpass. D-man thought this was a bit of a downer, even though the actual finish line was great.
As for how I felt during the race, it was probably one of the easiest marathons I have ever done, mentally and physically. I felt happy the whole way- none of the “OMG, I can’t wait til this is over” that I felt at St. Louis. I was able to smile at any spectator who cheered for me, and thank them genuinely. It was extremely enjoyable for a marathon. I already had it in my head that I wasn’t going to PR with only 8 short weeks of training, but I was able to maintain a fitness level that allowed me to comfortably run a marathon in 4 hours and some change without much pain or discomfort.
I plan to take this week off of running, and then we’re heading to Maui for a week with D-man’s family. I will be too tempted to run in the warm temps there- can’t wait! My legs don’t feel sore at all. Yesterday, we did a yoga class at Moksha, and the marathon is already a distant memory.
Next up- the Marathon to Marathon from Storm Lake, Iowa to Marathon, Iowa on June 9, 2012!