On the Road to a First Marathon


By MELANIE LOGGAINS
St. Jude Hero

EDITOR'S NOTE: Melanie Loggains has been running a little less than two years, but has already taken to the long road with a half marathon and marathon to her credit. She takes us on her journey from a walker through to running that first marathon. She doesn't mention that she raised $1,217.69 for St. Jude research. The odd change came from her new training partners in Batesville's Women Run Arkansas Clinic advanced group, part of an amount figured by their joint pace in a "Magic Mile" training run. Thanks Melanie, for going on the road, making friends and helping people!

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Check out our archive for previous travels On the Road, and remember we invite you to share your own story, cause or advice with our members.

I decided to start running on 9/11/11. I wanted a change in my routine; walking was no longer enough for me. Over the past several years, I had tried to get started a number of times, but found it too difficult and gave up too soon. I was determined to keep going this time. I got up and ran early (before I had a chance to change my mind!) three to four times a week. I was able to run only a tenth or two-tenths of a mile at first. I felt like my heart was going to explode and that I was going to die! Finally, with my husband's help, I ran my first mile! I was elated that I could run a mile. That first mile paved the road for my great running adventures!

Melanie and Ken Loggains made it through the rain
April 27 at the St. Jude Country Music Marathon

I set a goal to run my first 5K on Pioneer Day in Melbourne. However, I quickly learned the importance of patience and good shoes. Achilles tendinitis set me back six weeks. I read several books on running that emphasized the importance of posture and efficiency. I resumed running shortly after Pioneer Day. I ran the Apple Pie 5K in Salem, making my goal of finishing without injury. My husband and I then ran several 5Ks over the summer. I discovered that I love racing not for the competition but for the fellowship with other runners.

Before long, I started running distances beyond three miles. I love early morning runs with my husband at an easy pace. We began training for a half marathon. I ran shorter distances during the week and gradually increased mileage for long runs on the weekends. We registered for the Big Sur Half Marathon in Monterey, CA, 11/18/12. The course was scenic along Monterey Bay. It was difficult, but the beauty of the course made it worth it!

We returned home with plans to run our first marathon together. We chose St. Jude Country Music Marathon, 4/27/13, because Tennessee is my home state. I grew up just outside of Nashville where Kenny and I met. Kenny ran his first half marathon there a few years ago. We began training Jan. 1.

The half marathon had been a challenge, and I could not imagine running more than three hours. As always, I hit the books! I read several, such as "Chi Running" by Danny Dreyer, "Born to Run" by Chris McDougall, and "Eat & Run" by Scott Jurek. The most useful book was "The Runner's Body" by Ross Tucker.

I registered for the marathon and signed up as a "St. Jude Hero." I read about the children of St. Jude. Their stories provided inspiration that helped me through some of the longest and most difficult training runs, and especially the last five miles of the marathon.

The morning of the marathon was wet as we expected. The heightened security due to the Boston Marathon tragedy did not interfere with the positive atmosphere. We had a moment of silence in memory of the Boston Marathon. The national anthem was tastefully performed. My section started to run around 0730. I felt thankful for the volunteers and cheering spectators who came out to support us. The soaking rain did not dampen their spirits. I love the clever signs they made. My favorite was "April Showers Bring Runners Power!" and "Stay Calm." The first 13 miles went by quickly. I hardly noticed the hills or the pouring rain. I was doing what I loved in a city that helped support our family as I grew up. I remembered how I struggled to run a mile and where I was a year ago — recovering from an injury.

The last few miles were very difficult. I had to focus on my purpose and push on. My goal was to run the marathon in about five hours. I happily finished 5:06:23. The finish time may not be the best, but it was good enough for me. This experience has taught me that we set our own limitations. If we believe in ourselves and focus on our goals, then we can achieve great things!