St. Jude Marathon 2018

 

On December 1, 2018, I ran in my second marathon race. It was a doozy! Tough, Hell,  and disappointed are just a few words to describe it. Let me explain.

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I started training for the marathon in July just as I did last year. My main goal this year was to beat my 2017 marathon time which was 4:59. Quickly into my marathon training I knew I was going to beat my pervious time. In 2017, my average pace was between 11-13 minutes per mile. This year my average pace is about 9-11 minutes. I was significantly faster. With my new pace, I was predicting to finish this year’s marathon around 4:30. I continued to keep this pace and even get faster throughout my marathon training. I was confident that I would PR (set a personal record) this year.

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Race day arrived. I felt good. Even though I trained and prepared the best I could, December 1st turned out to be an unexpected and unpredictable day. First, the race was delayed 1 hour due to stormy weather. We were now starting the marathon at 9am. Also at 9am the temperature was already 64 degrees and expected to continue to get warmer. Plus due to the morning storms and warm weather, humidity was also added to the mix. I was thankful though to have Kayla and my sister at the start of the race. Even though Kayla was running the half this year, I am glad we were able to start the race off together.

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I started the race with a good pace. I was averaging around a 9:30 pace. It was exactly where I wanted to be. I kept this pace all the way up to the half, 13 miles. Then at mile 14, it started to go down hill. Around mile 14 my legs started hurting really bad. I had never felt this pain before. It was really bad. I remember thinking to myself that my legs can’t hurt this bad already, I still have around a half to go. Shortly after this realization, is when I had my first panic attack attempt. I felt myself getting really overwhelmed. I started breathing really heavy and then it became difficult to breath. I had to start walking, calm down, and slow my breathing. Because of the pain, my pace was drastically getting slower. The 4:00 pacer had already passed me awhile back but I was still ahead of the 4:30 pacer. I knew I was slowing down but I was still on track to achieve my goal time. Around mile 15 the 4:30 pacer passed me. I kept up wit the pacer for about a mile then had to slow down due to the excruciating pain in my legs. This is when my second panic attack attempt hit. I got so overwhelmed because I knew I was not going to be able to make my 4:30 goal time. I was eventually able to calm down and keep running.

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Miles 18 – 24 were a blur of pain and exhaustion. I remember being in a lot of pain and anticipating every single water stop because I was so thirsty and hot. I wanted to keep pushing myself. I knew the 5:00 pacer had not passed me yet. So if I just kept pushing, I would beat last years time even if that meant by 1 minute. Then I saw a lot of runners getting hurt. I saw runners passed out on the ground and taken away in ambulances. This told me that I had to ease up. I was worried that if I kept pushing myself so hard when I was already in a lot of pain, that I would eventually hurt myself. From then on I did a lot more walking. I had to stop several times as well to stretch. The pain was really intense. Kayla started texting me around mile 21. She gave me some much needed motivation. She let me know I was doing great and I was a badass. Around mile 22 or 23 is when the 4:50 pacer passed me. I was disappointed but I at this point I just wanted to be done.

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Mile 24 came and I knew I was almost done. I knew if I could just keep slowly going that I would finish soon, plus I still had not seen the 5:00 pacer. It was a bit windy during the race but right around mile 24 is when the wind decided to get intense. I remember being so exhausted and giving it everything I could just to run up the hills near the end. I remember a strong head wind blowing against me right as I was trying to run up a hill. I said “f*ck it,” gave up and walked up the hill instead. It was insane. Near the end of the race wind gusts were up to 25 mph. Plus the temperature was around 75 degrees.

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Mile 25, “one more mile” was my mantra. I knew I was almost there. I had only one more mile left, I could do this! I round the corner and see the finish line. I see and hear Kayla cheering me on. I make the last turn then cross the finish line. That was it, I did it! I was beyond exhausted and in so much pain. My sister met me right as I crossed the finish line. As soon as I saw her I collapsed in her arms and started crying. I remember telling her, “that was really hard.” lol Of course the photographer comes around right in the middle of me bawling my eyes out. I am really glad though that he was able to capture that special moment between my sister and I.

I was still unsure of the exact time I finished. I didn’t think I beat my time but I never saw the 5:00 pacer pass me. I changed into new clothes, grab some pizza, then went to the booth to print my official finish time.  I got the print out and saw that I finished at 5:03. I met up with Kayla, and as soon as I saw her I started bawling crying in her arms too. I was a mess. I was so disappointed that I didn’t beat my time and that I was only off by 4 minutes!

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I knew how hard I worked and trained for the marathon. There should have been no reason why I didn’t beat my time. I feel the main reason was because it was so hot. Now usually if I don’t reach my goal, I just try again. Its not that easy when the goal is PRing a marathon. I couldn’t just run a marathon the next day. So I will have to wait.

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I will definitely be running the St. Jude Marathon again in 2019 where I hope to beat my original time of 4:59. Until then I will continue to keep running, making new goals, and achieving those goals. Looking back, I may be still disappointed but I know I did the best I could. I still ran 26.2 miles! Not a lot of people can say that. Plus I survived through miles of excruciating pain but yet no injuries. I may be hard on myself but I still know that I am a badass unicorn and I will continue to fight and achieve my goals!

-Sarah

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Kayla’s Running Analysis

As some of you may remember, I had some hip/groin issues during the end of my marathon training. I went to physical therapy at Campbell Clinic here in Memphis. I had two great PTs Nicole and Phillip!

Toward the end of my therapy, they told me about this really great service their clinic offered, a running analysis. Of course, my first thought was Amy Schumer in Trainwreck when she visits Bill Hader at his clinic.

It was not like this, but I will say that every time a doctor tells me to walk normal, I strut for like a split second and have to remind myself I’m not Beyonce!

Instead! It was a wireless system that the analysis guru stuck on my shins that would communicate with a pager like device I carried in my pocket while I ran around the block for about 30 minutes.

 

The analyst, Drew, also watched me run for a bit to notate any physical markers the system might not track. When I got done running for 30 mins, Drew took the pager and connected it to the computer to get the details about my awesome running skills!

IMG_3189Then I was given a ton of information, that made me go huh?! But Drew was great in explaining. My cadence, which is steps per minute, is slow but this doesn’t mean I am slow. It just means that I do not open my stride wide to get more steps in per minute. I take about 100-120 steps per minute and I have an average speed of 6mph.

I favor my right side, which makes sense since I am always injured on my left side. In the photos below you can see that the time I spend with my left foot on the ground is more than the right. Some suggestions he had for this first eval was that I can download a metronome app for running that would help me increase my cadence and stride. This will also help the time I spend from foot to ground to back up. Like, I said, a lot of information!!

 

I had to come back for the final eval which included Drew watching my form on squats, push ups, wall sits, shoulder rotation, neck rotation, trunk rotation and more. All of this information is put into the system and then you are given an at home training plan through the Fusionetics app. Which is really cool.

They give you specific exercises to strengthen your weaknesses. They focus on the area you originally came into physical therapy for. So for me, the hip and groin area. Then they give you exercises to stretch, strengthen and stable your weak areas. They also make you foam roll! And each exercise comes with a video you can watch.

 

 

So all of this is sent directly to the app on your phone. It syncs with your calendar so you know what days you are supposed to be doing it. And the goal is to make a routine you commit to BEFORE running or working out. Which if you know me, you know I am bad about!

So I had to go buy some things, foam roller, resistant bands, exercise ball (which I still need!). I am trying to change my routine to carve out ten minutes before a run to do the stretches and exercises. Since I run at work I was told that you can split up the exercises. Do the static stretches and strength stuff before the run and then the ones that require props, do that evening at home. You can make it work for your schedule.

Now while it seems like a lot and you do have to change your routine I said something to the analysis like “How can I fit this all in?!” He said, “It’s only ten minutes once you get the hang of it. And think about all the time you spent in physical therapy, you don’t really want to come back here do you?!” Touché, Drew, touché.

So huge thanks to the crew at Campbell Clinic for keeping me in tip top shape. Now if I could stop hurting myself when I am not running! *cough* kickboxing *cough*

With healing,

Kayla

Sarah’s 1st Marathon

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My first marathon was an amazing experience and as I passed the 26 mile marker with tears in my eyes, I tell myself that I would definitely do this again!

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We trained our butts off. We did everything we could to prepare ourselves for this moment. We were as ready as we would ever be.

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Standing in the corral with thousands of people, over 26,000 to be exact was mind blowing. I was over whelmed, nervous, scared, and excited all at the same time.  Kayla and I await our turn to the start line, slowly moving forward, we give our final waves to our families then locked arms as we cross the start line. I am so blessed and thankful to have an amazing running partner.  Kayla and I ran together for the first mile and a half, and then I decided to run at my own pace. We did not see each other again till Kayla crossed the finish line. This was our first race that we both ran in that we did not run with each other the whole time. This was big for us. We could not use each other for support during the race which was what we have always done before. Thankfully we had the motivation and support from our amazing city!  

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The first 5 miles of the marathon were pretty crowded. It was hard to run faster because there was just so many people. Mile 5 was when we went through the St. Jude Hospital campus. It was amazing to see patients outside cheering us on and thanking us for running.  After mile 5 I was really able to run at a faster pace. I was able to stay with a 4:55 pacer (meaning it should take 4 hours and 55 min. to finish the marathon) all the way to about the 22 mile mark, then I fell behind a little. I was very proud of myself for staying at a good constant pace for most of the race. Mile 24, 25, and 26 all brought tears to my eyes. I was so proud of myself!  Right after mile 26, my mom and sister were waiting for me on the corner. I was happy to see them and so thankful that they were there supporting me and cheering me on. Of course my mom bursts into tears which then makes me cry as well. Then I turn the corner and shot through to the finish line. As they place the heavy metal around my neck, I stand there in awe. I am now a marathoner I told myself. I did it!

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marathon9Crossing the finish line

I am so glad that the St. Jude Marathon was our first marathon. It was amazing!! We were able to fundraise and participate in a race that raised over $10 million dollars for the St. Jude Hospital. We were also able to witness a whole city coming together to support this amazing cause. The city of Memphis usually gets a bad rap and is known to be violent city, but not on this day. The whole city came out to support the St. Jude runners. At every single mile there we people cheering us on. One of my favorite parts of the marathon was all the amazing signs everyone made! I’m pretty sure that the only way I got through the 26.2 miles alive was because I hit every power up and energy boost poster I saw.

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Some signs were hilarious! They took my mind off the pain and brought a smile to my face. Some of my favorite sign and others were…… “Find a cute butt and chase it” “Smile if you peed a little” “I just farted, run faster” “This is Memphis, run like you stole something” “Your feet hurt from kicking so much ass” “You do marathons. I do a marathon runner” “Your running better that our government” and “Don’t poop!”

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The whole city also came out and supported by giving out candy, snacks, beer, shots, mimosa, Gatorade, and water. Around mile 22, I was so hungry that I started eating every snack I could get hands on. I had potato chips, a fun sized snickers bar, pretzels, and a piece of baked potato.  I skipped the beer and fireball shots. though There would be no way I would be able to run after that

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Overall, my first marathon was an amazing unforgettable experience. I am so proud of how hard I worked and that I accomplished my goal. I plan on running in the St. Jude marathon again and many more marathons as well. I am so thankful to everyone that has supported me through my running journey.  And even though we have completed our first marathon, we are not done running. Running is in our hearts and if it’s up to us we will never stop running. Forever Runners! Forever Badass Unicorns!

Badass Unicorn Marathoner,

Sarah

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What I learned at the marathon preview

Last week, I was able to attend the St. Jude Marathon Course Preview hosted by Breakaway Running and Can’t Stop Endurance. Coach Kevin Leathers did a very informative presentation about how to prepare, what to expect and how to recover.

I thought I would share some of what stuck out to me in case it could be helpful to someone else participating. Sarah was not able to attend so I took extensive notes to share with my fellow over-planning Virgo!

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First off, the marathon will be host to approximately 25,000 runners!! This includes participants in the 5k, 10k, half and full marathon. That is a lot of people at a starting line. Which is why it takes about 40 minutes for all runners to be released from their respective corral and cross the start line.

Sarah and I will be starting in the 11 minute per mile corral. We want to be able to start together because Sarah will be able to run faster, longer, and we won’t be finishing together. But we are starting off as a team, which I am pretty jazzed about! During the course preview, someone asked how do you stay warm in the corrals? You might need more layers while you are waiting to take off. So here’s a tip! Wear some throwaway clothes. Just some cheap layers you can take off when the race starts. The race volunteers will gather these and they actually donate them to the local community.

So the race starts and ends at Autozone Park. If you are wanting to watch any of your friends take off or finish, this is where to do it! FYI: Roads will starts closing by 7am!! Spectators can watch the runners take off on Second Street and you can catch them again on Front Street which is around mile four. The marathoners will pass the stadium area, on Danny Thomas Blvd. near Monroe, again near miles 23.5 and 25.5. This is great place for you to cheer your runner on before they finish! Friends and families can also sit in the stands and watch their runner cross the finish line. Friends and families will not be allowed on the field though. So cheer loud!!

Coach Leathers broke the race down into thirds. And this can be used for any distance. The first third is about Discipline. You are going to be excited and your adrenaline will be pumping. You have to keep in mind to keep your pace that you trained for so that you don’t take off too fast and burn out. The middle of the race you should have a Relaxed Focus. This is where you continue to take it easy. Make sure your hydration and fueling is working for you. Pay attention to your form during this time. And for the last part!! This is where you Dig Deep! You will be hurting. It will be hard but this is why you trained for six months. Welcome the Struggle!

So there are the important logistic points. Now for some fun stuff!

Mile 5.5 is where the runners will run through the St. Jude campus. The kids come out with their signs and cheer the runners on. I am really excited for this part. This is what it is all about. And you can still donate to the cause!

Kayla’s Fundraising Page     Sarah’s Fundraising Page

If you are running the half, around mile 11 is when you will leave all us crazy marathoners behind. If you are running the marathon, don’t panic! Most of the people you are running with will go left while you go right. Important note: if you don’t reach the split point by 11:20 a.m. you will be made to finish as a half marathoner. This means you must at least keep a 14 minute pace for 11 miles. It’s okay! If I can do it, you can do it!

One of my favorite parts of this course preview was that Coach Leathers covered what to do after and gave some good recovery points! Number one Don’t sit down or lay down once you cross the finish line! (SARAH) ! It’s not good for your muscles and you may not be able to physically get up! Change your clothes before you meet up with your group. You’ll be more comfortable for all the selfie taking you’re gonna do!

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He also suggested setting a new goal! Pay for a race and you won’t have a reason to slack off. You won’t have to restart your training. Rumor is we might register to do the St. Jude Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville half marathon in April!

You can find all this information from the source, Can’t Stop Endurance. Coach Leathers will also be doing the presentation again at the expo Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. And you MUST go to the expo to get your packet and bib. There is NO race day packet pick up!

If you aren’t running in the race, you can still be a part of race day! Check out volunteer opportunities here.

I hope this can be helpful for some people participating. If you can catch the presentation, I highly suggest it! It was very informative, as you can tell!

13 days!!

The more you know,

Kayla

Me, Myself, and My Sports Bra

Today marked a milestone. Today was my first official day running in a sports bra all by myself. I have ran twice with Kayla in our sports bras but today was different. Today I didn’t have the amazing Kayla for motivation and support. I had to do it all on my own.

So this is how it went. When I first woke up this morning it was thundering. I didn’t want to start running and get caught in a down pour so I waited. When the rain stopped, I started to head out but it started pouring down again. So I just decided to go to the gym. I ran 1 mile on the treadmill (sooooooo boring) and worked out my arms. Then I noticed that it was sunny outside so I decided to put in my 6 miles for the day (marathon training).

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It was 12pm after a storm, on July 4th, in Memphis, Tennessee. Which means it was f*cking HOT and HUMID!!!!!! Humidity is the worst!! So I decided to run in my sports bra. When I got out the car I felt like people were looking at me and judging me. I took off running. Not having a shirt on felt better already. It was so hot and I was so thankful to not have on another layer of clothing that would be sticking to me and drenched in sweat.

I was still feeling insecure though. I went around the first turn and there were these two ladies walking towards me. As we passed each other, I did my little smirk smile to be polite and this lady smiled so big at me! It was like she was proud of me and cheering me on for running in my sports bra. I know it seems silly but it worked for me. I then started feeling more confident. I soon realized, no one really cared that I was running in my sports bra.

I decided to run in my sports bra today because it was hot as hell period. Then it turned into more than that. I didn’t run in my sports bra to be sexy. I ran in my sports bra to be strong. Strong, brave, confident. I ran in my sports bra to show women that we need to stop being so hard on ourselves. I ran 6 miles today. Not many people can say that, but I can because I have worked hard. I know I’m not skinny but I know I can run and I’m strong. And I am proud of that.

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A proud member of the Sports Bra Squad -Sarah-

Thank you to the lady that smiled so big at me, not once but twice when I passed you again! You made my day. Just another example at how smiling at someone can make such a huge impact!! Smile! Pass it on!

 

 

 

Badass Unicorns join the #SportsBraSquad

Today is Global #SportsBraSquad Day! A movement that was started by one of our favorite bloggers Kelly Roberts who writes Run, Selfie, Repeat. It started as a way for women to shed their shirts while running to show they are stronger than their insecurities. And it has been amazing watching it take off. Check out the hashtag on Instagram and just see how many strong women ran sans shirts today!

For some reason, as women, we find it hard to take off our shirt when we are pouring sweat. We would rather have the soaking wet shirt stick to us, mess around with trying to adjust it, and still make our bodies 10 degrees hotter rather than just taking it off. Why? Probably because we think people will judge us. I don’t look like the women in running ads. Before this movement started, I really did think that someone would pay attention to me enough to be like, “Ew, that girl should not be running without a shirt.” Guess what? People don’t care!

Even today, running with Sarah, no one gave us weird looks or did a double take. We live in Memphis. It’s hot here. Girl, just be free! Or run with your shirt on. Either way, we want women to look beyond their body image and look at what their bodies can do. That is what this movement is all about.

So when, Kelly Roberts told the world that there would be a Global Day for this kickass movement, I immediately text Sarah to save the date. Technically, we had run together in our sports bras while training for a trail half marathon, but no one else saw us. We were struggling in the woods, melting from the heat. I had ran by myself in a sports bra on the beach. (You can read all about that experience on Women’s Running Magazine. I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to share my story thanks to Kelly Roberts. Scroll down and you can see that I am the last woman to share my experience.)

Anyways, Sarah had never technically ran in such a public place in just her sports bra. For some reason, we both find this intimidating. Sarah even mentioned that when running alone she didn’t want people to think she was promiscuous. Which is another crazy point in why we are afraid to run in a sports bra. As women, we have to worry that someone may take our skin as an invitation to approach us. We have to worry that someone might think we are asking for something or trying to show off. People! It’s hot! Running is hard! I may look fine but that doesn’t mean I want you to come get handsy!

As we were finishing up our last mile, Sarah said, “You know this actually feels good. It’s not as bad as I thought it would be.” My heart was so happy to hear that! We both have our insecurities about our bodies. Today we chose to set those aside and show the world that we are strong!

I think that society, especially the running community, is doing a better job to showcase all body types. Just pick up the June issue of Women’s Running Magazine. They have done such a great job in showing people that not all runners look the same. Women have been speaking up about the fact that beauty is not what a magazine tells us it needs to be. And guess what? We have been heard. You have so many companies now making sure that they show their clothes on all body types. That’s the great thing about being human. We aren’t all the same. We need to start embracing ourselves and our fellow humans. Don’t judge. Lift people up. Show people that you can live an active lifestyle and not have to strive to look a certain, perfect way. We want people to be and feel healthy. Not beat themselves up over a number on the scale. I love my body. I am proud that it can run and run and run and run. Instead of thinking about the number, I think about what m body is capable of.

This movement isn’t trying to tell people you MUST run in a sports bra. For me, it’s a way to show that I am stronger than society’s perceptions of what women should look like and what women should wear. I hope this movement can give more women courage. I hope that it can allow them to see the strong sides of themselves, whether they’re running with or without a shirt.

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With bravery,

Kayla