Marathon #10 is in the books! Considering that I didn't even want to go down to Jackson, MS to run it just a week prior, due to burnout, I am quite happy about it. I mean, as the saying goes, "this ain't my first rodeo." I knew I could do it; I just didn't especially want to. But I got over it and headed on down to Jackson hotter than a pepper sprout and got it done!
I picked the Mississippi Blues Marathon for three reasons.
- I had yet to check Mississippi, my new home state, off my 50-states list.
- Most other Mississippi marathons are during the hot months. Crazy!
- THE AMAZING MEDAL. You know me - it's all about the medal.
I knew I was in for a hilly course, and I knew there was a slight chance of rain. I'm here to tell you... this elevation chart doesn't do it justice. We're talking Flying Pig hilly!
I ran all over town. Jackson is NOT in the flat Delta region of Mississippi!
The race expo was great. There were a couple of blues musicians set up playing music at the entrance. Tres cool! What was more exciting for me, though, was seeing these:
Check. Out. Those. Medals!
The "goodie bag" itself was an awesome backpack. I also received a blues CD, an awesome shirt, AND a harmonica.
So cool! Isaac has taken it over already.
I stayed in a hotel that had seen its better days, but I slept well. I easily found free parking near the start of the race (although I had to walk uphill to get there... am omen of things to come). For the first time ever, I didn't start the race as soon as the gun went off. I was actually in the porta-potty line! I wasn't the last person to cross the start line, but I was back there. Oh well. Better to get my business taken care of before my chip time began!
Uphill to the start. Why, thank you, Jackson.
We started in downtown and ran past colleges, hospitals, monuments, etc. That's where most of the spectators were. In defense of the rest of the course, it was very cold and, as you'll soon read about, rainy. Ick.
The best part, in my opinion, was when we ran through the beautiful historic neighborhoods of Jackson. I just couldn't get enough of those homes, especially the ones from the 70's. If you didn't already know, I am an Architect who is strangely obsessed with 1970's homes. What can I say?
The course was well-stocked with the most gracious volunteers that I have probably ever encountered. They were at practically every street corner and they were thanking all the runners for being there. I felt like saying "I know you think we're a bunch of morons for running these hills in the cold and rain, so thank YOU for being here."
I didn't see many signs out there, but this one was noteworthy.
This fellow was quite entertaining. I think this is a video of him from a previous year. Great!
The first few miles are always a bit "wide eyed" for me, then I get into the zone. Reaching mile 10 is always a happy moment for me, because I know I'm almost to the halfway point. Once I cross that 13.1 mat, I think "alright, halfway done!" Yes, I take the glass half full approach these days, folks. After that, each mile is a little victory. Mile 16 is special because I "only" have just over 10 more to go. Mile 17 is rather cool because it is the "Maddy" mile. You see, while running the Chicago Marathon together, my friend Maddy pointed out to me that Mile 17 represents 'only' single digits to go! Mile 20 is a big one because, obviously, you're in the 20's. Each mile after that represents a small countdown to the finish. Mile 25 is mighty special because it's your last full mile. Seeing the Mile 26 sign is heaven sent!
Hills, hills, hills. I walked most of them. I again relied on my Galloway 30:30 method and it really kept me going. I wanted to throw in the towel at mile 16 when it started pouring rain, but of course I could not. I had to get that medal! I just prayed that it wouldn't start lightning, because they'd probably call the race. Scary! It poured on me until mile 18 and didn't start again until mile 23. By then I felt dry (although certainly not warm!) and was none too pleased about all that precipitation. Such is life.
Imagine my surprise when I saw two guys riding Tennessee Walkers down the road, in the rain, toward the end.
Well, praise the Lord! Now WTF? (Where's the finish?)
It literally rained from mile 23 until the very end. Although I shouldn't have been surprised to realize that the finish line was uphill, I was. Jackson, hit me with your best shot.
There it is, right in the heart of downtown Jackson.
As soon as my awesome medal was put over my head, I was smiling from ear to ear. Yep, that was worth it! I slowly walked my soaked self to the food area and got a slice of pizza.
Here I am looking like a frozen, drowned rat.
After that I walked downhill to my car, which was painful for worn out hill-climbing legs. I called home to check in. I told Chasen that I was quite impressed with myself for finishing all that insanity, and that it was possible that I had become a marathon running machine. Ha!
Fresh out of the cold and rain. My car said it was 42 degrees!
Warm and dry, happy at home.
It's sort of surreal for me to think that I carried myself over 26.2 miles of hills in the cold and rain when I didn't even want to do it just a few days beforehand. I consider this to be one of my most successful marathons. I'm not sure what 2013 holds for me, but at least I've started it with a bang!