I’m home from marathon and traveling fun!
Molly’s pretty happy about that.
Me, too. The past few days were pretty exhausting.
I flew into Pensacola on Thursday evening and met up with my friend, Carla. I became buddies with her fuzzy baby, Scooby, while she was at work Friday morning. 🙂
We met up with another friend, Lori, and drove out to Jackson on Friday afternoon. Road trip! We met up with another Lori and Kelly along the way. Convoy!
Jackson is about 4 1/2 hours from Pensacola and we finally arrived at the expo at about 6pm.
We picked up our packets and checked out the stuff. The expo was actually pretty small – it only took up one room and a hallway. Bill Rodgers, the marathon man, (!) was there on the stage talking about his experiences at last year’s Boston Marathon. My phone battery crapped out otherwise I would totally have a picture of him.
After the expo, we headed over to the hotel, dropped off our stuff and then headed out for dinner. I ate my food before I thought about taking a picture of it but, you aren’t missing out on anything. Pretty sure you know what a bowl of pasta looks like. 😉
Then, it was time to head back to the hotel and prep for the race.
Thunderstorms rolled through that night but were thankfully gone by race time. Phew! I don’t do thunderstorms.
It was a little cool in the morning but that was okay. Perfect running weather!
We all met at the hotel and headed over to the course together.
This race is pretty small so the crowds weren’t overwhelming. There were only 842 marathoners and 1,613 half-marathoners (per the results on Active.com).
They kicked off the race with an AWESOME guitar solo of the Star-Spangled Banner.
(I tried to embed the video but it didn’t work so check out the Mississippi Blues Marathon Facebook page for the uploaded video.)
And then, it was time to run!
Another friend of Carla’s was there too and he ran with us. I took a few action shots along the way.
But, at about mile 11, I had a side stitch that I could not get rid of and I had to stop. I just couldn’t catch a breath! I told Carla and Zac to go and I would see them at the finish.
Note: every race is different for everyone, we were both in different places with our training and Carla and I had agreed that if one of us felt strong, then that person should definitely continue strong. Neither one of us wanted to hold the other back. So, there were definitely no hard feelings when we separated.
I breathed and walked out the cramp, thank goodness and then continued on a run/walk pace for the rest of the race. My legs were heavy and I felt a little sick between miles 13 and 15 but, I listened to my body and walked when I needed to. I pretty much walked every water stop and I didn’t forget my goal of HAVING FUN while I was out there.
I took some pictures.
I chatted with other runners.
I wrote my race report in my head.
And, I made it to the finish!
Not my best time (officially 4:37.55) but I didn’t have a time goal. In fact, given that I wasn’t as trained as I would have liked and I walked and stopped to take pictures, I’m actually pretty pleased with that time.
BUT, let’s talk about that course.
I will never go back and run that race again. There were great parts about the race but the “not great” was really not great.
This was, by far, the hardest course I have ever run.
Clearly, I didn’t pay attention to the elevation chart.
Hilliest. Course. Ever.
Seriously, there seemed to be more uphills than downhills.
And, I’m not the only person who thought that.
The volunteers were plentiful and very friendly – never have I heard so many “good mornings” in my life! – and most were very encouraging. Some, however, didn’t make a sound as I ran by. Not even a “you’re welcome” to my “thank you for being out here.” Hm.
A lot of the course went through some beautiful residential areas (and some not so beautiful areas) and most of the volunteers were doing traffic control in those areas. The Jackson police were out on the busier sections of the course.
Crowd support, however, was pretty nonexistent. I’ve run races that pass through residential areas and practically EVERYONE in the neighborhood was out cheering us on, holding signs, playing music and generally having a great time.
Not in this race.
We got more crowd support when we were running on the Frontage Road next to I-55 and the cars were honking as they sped by.
It was really disappointing.
I mean, check out this Spirit Zone I passed somewhere after mile 18.
And that was the only one I took a picture of.
The marathon advertised bands/live music at 7 stops along the course.
I only remember 2 spots.
The JSU “Sonic Boom” performed at Mile 1 and they were fabulous! I love a marching band!
The next performer on a stage was at Mile 25.
I’m not kidding.
The guy playing guitar in a lawn chair in his front yard doesn’t count. But, I appreciated him because he was coaxing up one of the many hills.
We think that many of the bands backed out because the weather forecast was sketchy leading up to the race. But they didn’t have a back-up plan in place. So uncool.
The roads throughout the entire course were absolutely awful. AWFUL. There was never a level place to run.
I could tell that some patching had been done but it definitely wasn’t enough. My feet and my calves were so sore and crampy and I actually ended up with a blister on the outside of my big toe. I’ve NEVER gotten a blister during a race or a run before. But, I’ve never had to work so hard to run on a road before, either. If I wasn’t dodging a pothole, I was trying to stay level on damaged roads. Thank goodness there weren’t 30,000 runners in this race! I can’t imagine how much harder that would have been if I’d had to dodge people, too.
As I said, much of the course was through residential areas but, the areas that weren’t, were on the busiest of roads. We actually crossed an 8-lane, divided major road at around mile 22. (It may have been 6 lanes – I was mostly in shock that the course CROSSED this road with cops letting cars through.)
Mile 24 had an actual construction zone with trucks, etc driving through and stinking up the air with their engines running. Nice.
The course was coned off but it was sometimes difficult to know WHAT side of the cones we were supposed to be running on until a car came up from behind. Thank goodness for runner’s etiquette and those yelling “CAR!” so we didn’t all get run over.
I was seriously stoked to see the finish line. Of course, at mile 25.6, I made a left turn DIRECTLY INTO A HEAD WIND. It was like adding insult to injury. Mother Nature thought she was being funny.
The swag bag we got was actually pretty cool. It’s a reusable shopping bag! And, it has wine bottle compartments!! Totally cool.
And, the marathon shirt is pretty awesome, too.
Plus, we got a cool harmonica and a CD of “Music of the Mississippi Blues Marathon.” So, I’ll get to hear what I SHOULD have heard out along the course.
After the race, we drove back to Pensacola and I flew back home on Sunday.
I’m resting and stretching today. Think I’ll head out for a short shake-out run tomorrow and see how I feel. 🙂
All in all, I’m glad I did that race because I got to see Carla and Lori and everyone else. But, I’m thankful it’s done.
Talk to me: What’s the best/worst race you’ve ever done and why was it so awesome/horrible?