Guest Post: Ashley vs. the Memphis Marathon

Posted by Holly Whitfield | December 8th 2010 1316 0

Editors note: I Love Memphis has started to partner with awesome bloggers from around the region to share the best of what’s happening in our cities. Today, I’ve got a very special post from Ashley Schafer. Ashley lives in St. Louis, Mo., but was in Memphis last weekend to run the St. Jude Memphis Marathon. She’s been documenting her marathon training on her blog, Tumbleweave and White Castle Wrappers, and she was kind enough to send me this post about her marathon experience.

Four months ago, I made the decision that I was going to run a marathon, and on Saturday I did it.  I chose to run the St. Jude Memphis Marathon for three reasons: beer, blues, and barbeque.

These were all good reasons to choose this race, but none of them are the reasons I’m glad I did.  I’m not sure I would have been able to run 26.2 miles anywhere else than in Memphis.

Ashley Schafer after the St. Jude Marathon

Ashley Schafer after the St. Jude Marathon

All runners talk about hitting “the wall,” but I had yet to really experience it until Saturday.  This happens when you reach a point where your body just crashes.  Many describe it as literally running into a brick wall.  As I ran, every step added a brick to my wall.  Every muscle twinge: another brick.  Every pounding heartbeat: another brick.  Every cramp, ache, and blister added yet more bricks to my wall.

As I kept adding bricks, the people of Memphis were slowly removing them.  Every spectator had a part in removing a brick from my wall.  Every person holding a sign on the side of the road: another brick.  Every high-five: another brick. Every cowbell, wave, and music blaring from the porch of a reveler removed more bricks from my wall.

Eventually, it reached a point where the bricks were being added faster than they could be removed.  That is where the children of St. Jude came in to play.  The course ran through the campus early, but the memories of the children and families smiling and waving lasted to the very last step of the very last mile.

It was those children, the ones who know what it really means to struggle, that came through.  No matter what it takes to run a marathon, it’s nothing compared to what it takes to endure what the children of St. Jude’s have to.  When I reached the point where I couldn’t imagine how I was going to get through it, they came out with their sledgehammers and knocked part of my wall down, as if to say, “it will be hard, but you can get past that.”

Thank you to all the people of Memphis that stood in their yards waving as we ran by.  Thank you to each and every volunteer.  Thank you to the lovely folks at miles 17 and 22 that gave me beer.  Thank you to everyone that not only waited in the traffic jam we created, but honked and waved as we ran by.  Thank you to the belly dancers in the McDonald’s parking lot, the drum-line at mile 25, the dancers in the park doing the YMCA, and the man dressed as a gorilla giving high fives.

My greatest appreciation goes out to the ones that saved me: the children of St. Jude’s.  Thank you for helping me overcome my biggest battle, and I wish you the best of luck with yours.

Author: Holly Whitfield

I write about what’s going on with Memphis music, food, arts, events, sports, people, and culture. Memphians love Elvis and barbeque with a passion that must be seen to be believed, but there is so much more to this place.

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  1. francesca says:

    Great post, Ashley! I met you at the start with the 5:15 pace group, but then somehow lost track of y’all. I’m so glad to hear you had as good a first marathon experience as I did.

  2. Ashley says:

    What a great post! I’m glad she had such a good experience here!

  3. Caroline says:

    Heck yeah! Memphis is at its best during marathon weekend. Congratulations on finishing.

  4. Toni says:

    That made me tear up a little

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