This race came dangerously close to being The One That Didn’t Happen. The plan was that I was going to work until lunch Friday, and then someone from another office (since I’ve recently lost my only help in mine) was going to come and relieve me that afternoon and Saturday for the race. Thursday afternoon, only minutes before leaving work for the day, I got a phone call that my relief’s relief person had a family emergency and couldn’t fill in for her to allow her to come to my office. I thought I was screwed. But things actually worked out, as they RARELY do in my profession, and I was still able to make it. I had to work all day Friday, and only made it to the expo by the skin of my teeth, but I made it, and that’s all that matters.
I got out of the office at 4:45, filled up my gas tank, and hit the road. I thought that would give me plenty of time, but after stopping at Olive Garden to pick up a to-go order I’d called in and then having to slow down to a crawl on the interstate because of the torrential rain, I was pushing it tighter than I liked. When I got downtown to the Cook Convention Center for packet pickup, the traffic was nuts. I finally found a parking spot a few blocks away and hustled to the center. I grabbed my shirt and went to the Hero’s section where I was given my bib and a $25 coupon (for meeting my $500 fundraising goal!) for St Jude merchandise. JUST as I was walking into the merch area, they came over the speaker and announced that the expo would be closing in five minutes. Talk about coming down to the wire. I didn’t really plan on buying anything, but since I had the $25 coupon I looked around anyway. I ended up grabbing this running beanie and a new 13.1 sticker for my truck (since I’ve lost all my running magnets) with a balance due of $0.13.
Then I made my way to my hotel. Because I’d waited too long to make a hotel reservation, all the decently priced ones downtown were booked up. And because I’m too fucking cheap to pay $200 for one night just to have a pillow to lay my head on for a few hours before a race, I booked a room about 10 miles out of the downtown area. It was a little Days Inn out by Graceland. For $60 I wasn’t expecting much, but it had really good reviews, so I took a chance. When I pulled up, it was so cute. It was all decked out in Elvis paraphernalia and had the guitar-shaped pool and everything. It was cheap, it was clean, it was quiet, the bed was soooooo comfy, and the staff was super friendly and helpful. The lady at the front desk was even tracking down safety pins for me at 10:00 that night because I’d lost mine somewhere between the expo and my hotel room. Great customer service. I’d highly recommend this hotel to anyone. When I told the front desk of my plans the next morning and asked for a late checkout so I could come back for a shower, she told me that 12:00 was the latest she could offer me without charging an extra half-day’s rate. (Which I made with a whopping 4 minutes to spare! haha)
So anyway, after I got checked in, I heated up my pasta I’d picked up on the way in (I had done that because I knew I wouldn’t make it in time for the Hero pasta party, and I just REALLY didn’t give a shit about walking around downtown in the rain trying to find some dinner after the expo.) and laid out all of my stuff for the next morning. That was when I realized I had lost my safety pins for my bib. Thank goodness Days Inn is prepared for us unprepared folks and had little sewing kits for free!
So with a bib safety secured to my singlet, I laid down for the best night’s sleep I’ve had in a while. No snoring husband, no dogs waking me up needing to go outside, no cat yelling at me demanding breakfast or help up on the bed (Cat, I bought you some pet stairs–use them!) I went to sleep, slept soundly, and didn’t wake up till the next morning. I had my alarm set for 6, but I was awakened by a text message at 5:33 wishing me luck. I laid there for a while perusing Facebook and Instagram and then got up and had some coffee and my standard race morning breakfast of a Clif bar. I left the hotel right at 7 to allow myself plenty of time to get downtown, find a parking place, and get to my corral without being rushed. It went perfectly and I was in my corral by 7:45.
I didn’t have much of a plan for the race. I knew I wasn’t PR ready, but I thought surely I could keep it under a 10:00 pace, giving me a second best time. But for whatever reason, and I haven’t figured that reason out yet, it wasn’t in the cards. For the first 6 miles or so, I was running in the 9:30s and feeling GREAT! I was thinking that maybe I COULD beat my old PR of 2:07 (9:44 pace). But then around mile 7, I completely bonked. I mean like flipping a damn switch. I went from “WHEEEEE RUNNING!!!!!” to “WTF just happened?” in the course of a mile. Maybe it was because the rush of downtown and Beale St. and running through the St. Jude campus was over? Maybe I had expended more energy running into the wind than I’d thought? Maybe I just fucking suck at running? But I still thought if I could keep a decent pace I could still keep the finish time under 2:10. Then by mile 9, my average pace had creeped up to 10:02. I knew I wasn’t getting it back, so I just said, “Fuck it. It will be what it will be.” So I just ran (and walked) and enjoyed the crowd and the scenery and just appreciated the fact that I got to be there when only 24 hours before I didn’t think it was gonna happen.
I crossed the finish line in AutoZone Park in 2:17:29. I’m really disappointed in that time. There just isn’t any reason for it. I’ve run 5 half marathons faster than that before, and I was no better prepared for any of those (except the PR one, which I ran during marathon training) than I was this one. But whatever. I’m disappointed but not bitter about it. It’s hard to be bitter about taking part in such a wonderful day for such a wonderful cause. I love this race so much, and I’m already looking forward to my fourth running of St. Jude next December.