Mississippi Blues Half Marathon
Jackson, MS - January 8, 2011
Chip Time: 3:04:07
Summary: Who knew they had hills in Jackson, MS? Even a 2% change in elevation from sea level is UP my friends!
I signed up for the MS BLUES Marathon back in August 2010. It was my "excuse to keep consistently training through the winter." Sadly about 2 weeks after registering for the Marathon, I spent about 4 weeks going through some issues with undiagnosed pain in my back and abdomen (still undiagnosed but now gone!) and I missed the first 6 week of what would have been "early Marathon training".
I had two choice:
1.) Downgrade to Half Marathon distance or
2.) Not Race at All.
Of course, the choice was easy. There was still plenty of time to get in the quality milage necessary for a Half Marathon and the goal to "keep consistently training through the winter" still very much applied. So I wrote the race director and had them change my race registration from MARATHON to HALF MARATHON and spent Oct/Nov/Dec working on my milage.
This was to be my first race, of any kind, in Jackson, MS and I was looking forward to running in my husband's home town. The race expo was very well done and the race swag (free stuff) was simply excellent. There was a t-shirt, sling pack, "Elvis" gold sunglasses (complete with sideburns), a CD of classic MS BLUES music and a genuine harmonica.
The awesome race swag!
Genuine Harmonica and "Elvis" Gold Sunglasses with Sideburns!
This was no "toy" harmonica that made sounds like an "angry cat"!! With barely any experience at all, I was able to make pleasant, on-pitch music with this harmonica - something my parent can verify has never happened with the toy models I have had through the years. As my husband is my witness, I spend nearly the entire 20-minute car ride home from the expo saying "Look honey, I am making nice sounds - just like music" and wheezing in and out, happy as could be. LOL
Race morning started out early (6AM) for a 7AM start and the weather was great for an early january race - mid 40s at start with Sun and a high of 55 for the day. Jim (my husband) and I joked about the people around us talking about how "hilly" this course was. "Hilly? Jackson, MS? - yeah right - How Hilly could 2% about sea level really be?" The walk up a very steep hill to the race start should have been an "warning" but we simply thought it was the anomaly - the one "Hill" in Jackson.
We were WRONG!
After some quick photos of me channeling Elvis (it was his 75th Birthday after all) with gold sunglasses and sideburns at the Start Line, I ducked into the Port-o-Potty for a quick stop and joined the crowd for the race start. 7AM and we were off, after the National Anthem.
Channeling "Elvis" with my Gold Sunglasses with Sideburns!
Ready for a nice 13.1 miles through Jackson, MS!
In general, Jackson did a great job with the Marathon/Half Marathon course. There were plenty of aid stations and both courses were well marked! I had nothing to complain about and even the HILLS - that I really didn't anticipate - were not enough to make my race day a bad one. I just took them, one at a time and really had a fabulous time, in general.
Honestly, I am not lying, for the FIRST TIME that I can remember, the hills really didn't upset me or piss me off, as they usually do. I just accepted them for what they were, and kept putting one foot in front of the other.
Now while the "hills" didn't seem to give me any problems, I just about had a "Hissy Fit" when I saw Jim at Mile 8 and realized that "Not only am I passing within 2/10th of a mile from the the finish line (up a hill that I was very, VERY happy we did not have to run up) but I was passing my car!!! WHAAAA!!! No Fair, Race Directors, No Fair!"
I got over it quickly enough and settled into my own for the last 5.1 miles.
Mile 8 - where we passed by both the finish line and the car - HOW RUDE!
My overall goal for this race, since it was the first race of my 2011 season, was simply to start race morning well prepared for the distance (which I was) and have a strong solid day. I was not looking for any PRs (personal records) - I simply wanted to start and finish feeling strong and fit. And that is exactly what I did. My pace slowed as the miles increase but I never felt like I had to give up and walk for any length of time - nor did I ever feel like I couldn't keep going.
The biggest treat for me, was actually the last mile of the race. The last mile went down State Street in Downtown Jackson, past the "Old Governor's Residence" which was the location for my Wedding Photos in April 2009. To be able to run past the intersection of State Street and see the finish line at the top of the hill, was simply wonderful! I smiled nearly the entire way up and simply focused on what a beautiful run I had and how I was nearly done!
Finishing - Up Hill - Fun and Done!
Of course the race had an excellent Finisher Medal, which always adds to my personal joy along with a lovely "Congratulatory Finisher Kiss" from my husband, Jim! With those two things waiting for you at the end of 13.1 miles, how can any race be bad?
Finisher Photo with the great Finisher Medal!
Close-up of the MS Blues Half Marathon Finishers Medal
It may not have been my fastest Half Marathon to-date (that's 2:43:19 at Myrtle Beach in 2005) but it was definitely up there as of my favorite races for sure!
Life is Good! LiveSTRONG!