Mississippi Blues Marathon

I have not posted in months, and am not really sure why I dropped off. Just a combination of work and training, I guess. Since my first half marathon in October, the only race I ran was a Turkey Burner 5k, which I PR’d at 26:37. Very proud of that time!

Then I was contacted by an old fraternity brother who is a 50 States Marathon Club member. (His blog is here) He was looking for his 32nd state to run a marathon, had picked Mississippi, and was looking for company after another friend had backed out. So I compared my half marathon training plan with a full marathon plan and thought Well they look very similar, just the long runs start getting longer. Boy, there is more to a marathon than that, as I was soon to learn. But I committed and signed up, along with a third old fraternity brother, and we all started training.

Things went along pretty well for a while, and I got through my 16 mile long run OK, but during my 18 mile long run I pulled something in my calf about mile 14. Things did not go well after that. My mileage dropped, then I finally did a two week taper instead of ten days, but in the end it didn’t help.

MS-Blues-Bib
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A brief note about the race itself. They are saying that they had 3,500 people running, but adding the totals from their own results of both the half and full, comes to just 1,637. Just saying. This runner sums up my feelings really well. The short version is:

  • Almost every road was badly patched asphalt
  • Pretty spotty crowd participation
  • Constant rolling hills – this was advertised, but it makes a tough course
  • Some nice areas but about 3 miles of interstate highway marginal roads (the only good pavement, though)
  • Crossing a six lane highway
  • Running through a construction zone
  • Generally no idea which side of the road to run on, when cones went down the middle.

This wasn’t a bad course, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to run it again.
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Pre-Race ReadinessRace morning arrived, and even though storms had rolled through during the night, the rain had stopped. It was mid 50’s and turned sunny by about 11:00am, too late for many runners, but I was still out there walking. I had decided to try and go for as long as I could, at a 10:30 pace, and just see how the leg held up. This photo shows me wearing a blue shirt, but this came off by mile two, as the sun came out and it started to warm up. By the end of the marathon it was a very pleasant 61 degrees.

It felt good for the most of the first half, I was challenging the hills, taking in nutrition and water, and enjoying the run. We ran through the Jackson State campus, lots of crowd plus their band. Then a long stretch that seemed mostly uphill towards the old capitol building and north past the new capitol building. After mile 5 the half marathon folks took a right-hand turn by a hospital, or most did. I saw three or four running back past me to the turn, even though it was really well marked. Then we were off into some nice residential neighborhoods with a bunch more hills.

You can see from this pacing chart that I was hitting my goal pace nicely through about mile 11.5 (with a couple of water stop walks), but then the bad leg started acting up. So by mile 12 to about mile 16 it turned in to walk/run, in short intervals. Then the leg just refused to allow running. So the last 10 miles turned in to an endurance walk. We went through some more nice neighborhoods, with some huge houses on what must be 10 or 15 acre lots. Which I got to see in great detail, since I was walking.
MS Blues Pacing
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Almost every runner has learned that you argue with your brain while running, about continuing the run, but this marathon I learned to scream to my brain that I was going to finish this, even if it took forever, which is what it felt like. All kinds of people started going past me at this point. A group of Black Girls Run ladies who had been doing run/walk at about my pace left me for good about here. Old people, young people, overweight people – lots of people passed me at this point. The most boring parts of the race were all toward the end (the interstate marginal road, the construction zones, large areas where no one was in sight), and the wind started to blow at about 8mph then ramped up to 14mph directly in my face as I turned down the last mile to the finish line. I managed to do a slow jog across the finish line…not a strong finish, but all I could manage. I was slow, but at least I didn’t need that guy in the medical staff shirt!
Finishing the Marathon

So now I am an official marathon runner, and if I ever talk myself in to doing another (because I am now full crazy) I have a lot better understanding of what I’ll be putting myself through.

Chris had a worse time of it than I did, he was fighting some kind of flu bug. He calls this race his PW (personal worst) race. Scott had a sub two hour half marathon, which I think is a great time. This marathon was really all about the journey, though, and less about the race itself. Friendships started 35 years ago, and re-connecting for a road trip. Oh, and that huge honking guitar finisher’s medal.

Post-RaceScott (kneeling down because he only ran the half), Chris and me

Wearing the Race JacketMe and Scott at lunch on Sunday, wearing the MS Blues jacket