Sunday, January 17, 2016

Mississippi Blues Marathon - Jackson, Mississippi - Saturday, January 9, 2015

I heard that the Mississippi Blues race was the best one in Mississippi to go do, so back in June of 2015 when I was planning some of my future races out, I booked this one:  Mississippi Blues Race Website Here!

Since the drive was 10.5 hours and since we may have needed to do a detour due to rising flood waters in Missouri, we (Jason and I), decided to leave on Thursday right after work to get a head start on driving.

Jason picked me up at work at 3:40 p.m. and we drove almost 5 hours south to a town named Ste Genevieve, MO which is a tiny town.  The hotel we stayed in was a very cheap/no frills hotel.  I didn't like it, but it was clean and good for the price.  After sleeping in Friday morning and a quick breakfast we headed to Jackson, MS.    As we continued South the weather became warmer and warmer, so very nice for a January day.  We stopped at one gas station and the temps were 75 degrees!  The grass was green, birds were singing and everyone seemed so happy.  Jason and I laid in the grass for a picture.

We arrived in Ridgeland, MS around  4p.m. at our hotel called Drury Inn and Suites, which by the way is an awesome hotel.  I love Drury Inns and will stay at them whenever possible.  The first thing I asked upon checking in was, "Can I have late check out tomorrow?"  They were totally awesome about it and let me have that.

We settled in and then went to Jackson to pick up our race packets.  The expo was smaller than I was hoping, but it was enough.  We were given a great laminated race bag with several things in it.  I would say it was the best swag ever given out at a marathon so far.  We stayed to listen to a great band and then Jason and I headed back to the hotel for dinner.

Drury Inn has this managers reception every night, some times it's just snacks and stuff, but this particular Friday night had baked potatoes, pasta and many other things.  I eat baked potatoes and pasta before every marathon so dinner was perfect and we didn't need to go out to dinner.

After a nice hot tub dip and setting out our stuff for the race, I went to bed early.  I was really worried that the race was going to be either delayed or cancelled because thunderstorms were predicted for the morning.  The radar looked bad.  I said a prayer that the storm would go around and that the race would start on time and that I wouldn't get pulled off the course.  I was very stressed about it and tried to put the thought of traveling all that way and not being able to race out of my mind.

Race morning.  I got up early and ate my half plain bagel with peanut butter and 2 electrolyte pills with a little water.  After taping up my knees, hip and ankle with my miracle tape called KT tape, Jason and I left for the race.

We found parking right away, which is expected when you go an hour early to a race.  And for a while we just waited in the car.  It was raining so we didn't want to get too wet before we had to.  After a half hour or so I needed to find a bathroom.  There were lots of port-a-potties, but  seriously for a large race I think they should always triple whatever they rent because the lines are always too long for the bathrooms.

We got through the lines to the bathroom within 10 minutes, and then hid underneath the side of a building to stay dry before the race started.

When it was almost time to start, after the National Anthem was played on a guitar, I lined up to start with the other racers in the rain.  The gun went off and I started to run.  I felt good from the start and decided to try and stay with the 4 hour 30 minute pacer dude.

The first 3 miles went well and fast, well fast for me.   We started down John R. Lynch street for quite a while. The rain even stopped completely and it was cloudy and cool out.  A perfect temperature to run in.  We ran through the city and had a lot of curves, ran on some brick  and came back through the starting line which was weird to me. Staying with the 4:30 pacer quickly ended and I then tried to stay with the 4:40 pacer and did for a while like through mile 9 then I lost him.

The hills seemed to be coming over and over.  I have ran hills a lot, but these were just killing me.  At this point I could care less if I was with a pacer or not, by mile 10 which is early on in the race all I cared about was finishing this hard race.  I felt the course was hard.  I started to wonder if I could handle any more hills.  Why was it so bad?  I don't know.  I kept running, but not at a pace I wanted to.

The first 18 miles the weather stayed nice.  We ran through beautiful neighborhoods on Meadowbrook Lake Drive, Twin Lakes Circle, and Eastover Drive.  I wanted to take pictures of all of the homes there, but knew I was there to run and not walk.  I did get a couple pictures as you will see below, because they were too awesome.  So obviously I was taking a fuel break to eat one of my BOOM nutrition packs and a couple more electrolyte pills.

At mile 18 the rain started, at first it felt nice until it poured on everyone at mile 20.  It was buckets of rain that continued to get worse.  By mile 21 there was thunder and lightening.  I received a text from Jason asking me if we were going to get pulled off the course.  I wrote him that I hoped not because I was going to finish the race since I was already this far.   I kept wondering with every step if I would get pulled off the course.  I wasn't sure and just kept running, but wondered if I had ran that far for nothing.  It was stressful and not fun.  My shoes were filled with water, my socks were soaked, my entire body was so wet.  It was really hard to run in the rain that heavy.  I've never experienced anything like it.

At mile 23.5 a car drove really close to me and splashed a huge puddle on me.  It was so much on purpose that others around me noticed and ran over to me to see if I was alright.  Something to remember for sure.  Funny, well not really, but I just couldn't believe it happened.  I was now muddy, very wet, tired and done.  Ok, not done, but I was feeling like I wanted to be done.

Just when I really wanted to give up and everything hurt, the sun peaked out over some clouds.  It was beautiful.  The rain slowed down and eventually stopped at mile 24.  I pushed through.  At mile 25.8 ish I wanted to stop so bad.  My legs felt like stubs on my feet.  I really hurt.  I think what made this marathon different were these things:  I only did a 21 mile run as my longest run in preparation for this marathon and I knew better.  For all the others I ran a 23 mile long run as my longest run and that is really what you should aim for in my opinion, and I should have trained for hills more. I still pushed on and finished, not in the time I wanted at all, but I feel that with more hills than I was truly ready for and the super heavy rain I did well.
Marathon #10 in State #10 done!
The Mississippi road sign announcing we were there!

Laying on the grass in the warm Mississippi weather.
At the expo with my race bib checking out the marathon route.

Both of our race bibs.

Some race loot.
An awesome house I ran by.
Another fabulous house I "ran by".  Ok walked by.  I had to have a picture.
Jason right after he finished the race.

Jason and I together for a quick selfie right after I finished the race.
Here I am soaking wet and super sore, but I did it!  10th marathon completed in my 10th state.
The beautiful finishing medal honoring B.B. King.

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