Half Marathon #2

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I’m still sick so I didn’t get to workout yesterday.  Actually, my symptoms have gotten a little worse and I decided to take another day off of work today.  Now I’m waiting on the repairman to come repair the heating unit in the house and taking a break from studying fractions for the GRE, so I decided to do my writeup on my second half marathon.

My second half marathon was the St. Jude Half Marathon here in Memphis on December 1, 2012.  After my previous half marathon (the 2011 St. Jude Half), I was little burnt out on running and I really didn’t do much of it for a couple of months, so I decided to signup for the half to help avoid falling completely off the horse.  I imagine that I will run this half marathon most years because the date is very convenient for training, the weather is normally fairly comfortable, and is for a fantastic cause.  Any event that raises money for St. Jude is worthwhile to me.   Plus, the expo is top-notch with lots of vendors and is very well-organized.

As I was approaching the home stretch

As I was approaching the home stretch

The race day was warmer this year than last, but still wasn’t too uncomfortable.  It was 55 degrees when the race started and was 73 degrees by the time I crossed the finish line.  That would be perfect weather in normal circumstances, but the day before at the expo, the weather was nearly 15 degrees cooler and 73 in December feels a little warmer than 73 in the spring.

The course does an excellent job of incorporating some of Memphis’ greatest attractions and despite some hills over the last few miles, the terrain is not too terrible.  The course starts by the FedEx Forum, snakes through the arts district, goes along side the Mississippi River, on Beale, through the heart of downtown, through the campus of St. Jude (everyone’s favorite part), down to Overton Park and back, past Sun Studios, and finishing in the outfield of Autozone Park.   There are plenty of aid stations along the way and several spectators cheering you on throughout the course.  There is also lots of live entertainment, and when you run through St. Jude, most of the patients are there, cheering you on your way.  It is a fantastic feeling and a great reminder of why we are running.  I have not run the full marathon yet (this was my goal for this year but decided to try the Walt Disney World Marathon the following month) but from what I have seen and heard, the second 13.1 is very boring.  Virtually no spectators, more hills, and lots less Memphis landmarks along the way.  Of course, I’m certain most marathon spectators lose their steam by the time hour four hits, so this probably isn’t only a St. Jude Marathon issue.

I had originally hoped to improve upon my time from last year’s event, and my early training had me in perfect position to do this, but my wedding, bachelor party, and honeymoon was a greater time investment than I anticipated, so I did very little running in the month on October.  I still felt prepared for the race and was confident that I would not embarrass myself when race day came about.

Tech shirt & my bib

Tech shirt & my bib

The only real problem I have with this race is the  amount of people who don’t honor the corral times.  I have noticed with some of my other registrations that you have to prove your ability to run a race in a certain time or be relegated to the final coral.  I know that I am not going to be competing for the cash prize, or even placing in my age group, but it would be nice to not to have to avoid walkers in the first mile!  And when I say walkers, I mean dozens of them before the first half mile has even come.  It took me to mile seven this year to get free of the congestion of walkers this year.  I admire the people for getting out there, but it takes quite about of energy to pass these people and weave in and out of the crowds for that long.  I find that my annoyance with these people gets me out of my race strategy and I have an even harder time maintaining my pace.  Oh well, there isn’t much I can do about this issue, it is just something that I will have to deal with each year.  Maybe I’ll jump up a coral or two and see what happens.

2012 Medal > 2011 Medal

2012 Medal > 2011 Medal

The swag this year was improved over last year in every area.  All racers were given a tech short whereas in year’s past only the full marathon runners were given a tech shirt.  I overheard several people applauding this decision this year and despite the warmer temperatures, I saw numerous people wearing their shirts during the race.  All racers were given a small workout bag again this year to carry your items in at the expo as well as on race day.  Since Susan comes with me, I don’t get much use out of this, but probably will for these out-of-town races that I am planning for this year.  I got lots of samples at the expo, including finding my correct size for my Yurbuds.  This year’s medal was also far superior to last year’s.  It is slightly bigger, has more weight to it, and the icon in the middle is a spinner!  Also, the ribbon on which the medal is hung looks leaps and bounds better for 2012.

I ran, what I felt was about as good of a race as to be expected.  It had been warmer than the last couple of weeks, I missed a month of training, and I had no real taper time.  With all that said, I completed the course in a time of 2:21:54!  That was good for roughly a 10:54 pace, not a personal record, but I was still very happy with my time, all things considered.  On a positive note, I felt much better post race than the previous year and was not burnt out at all.  This is what solidified my idea of a race each month of 2013 and why I wanted to try some new half marathon course.

Course: A: Great course, the inclusion of several Memphis landmarks and the St. Jude campus more than makes up for the two long stretches of nothing from St. Jude to Overton Park and back.

Swag: A-: Better than last year.  The race shirt this was a tech shirt and the medal was a much improved design.

Experience: A+: Simply seeing all of the St. Jude patients and knowing where your money is going, especially when you are a St. Jude Hero, makes the day more than worthwhile and am very happy the my first two half marathon experiences were here.  It is also why the race sells out very quickly every year.  In 2011, I signed up in July and was one of the last runners to get in.  In 2012, I signed up on the first day, and the race was already over half full.

Overall: A: I love this race and want to do my best to keep it on my schedule every year.

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