Sunday, January 9, 2011

Mississippi Blues 1/2 Recap

Mississippi Blues Half Marathon- Jackson MS
 State 5/50 - 1/10 if the way through! haha
January 8 2011; mid 30s

** apologize in advance for lengthy recap**
Choosing this race was an easy decision- race on Elvis' birthday that is blues inspired- sure! B and I took off work on Friday and made the 6.5 hour drive to Jackson. 3 things we learned on our road trip down.
1. There is absolutely NOTHING to look at, scenery was lacking, so we started watching the temperature  gage in my car creep up, and were excited every time it raised a degree
it did reach 68, but B couldn't get the camera fast enough.
2. Great "southern hospitality" at all the stops/ gas stations/ restaurants. So refreshing!
3. Gas station pumps DON'T turn off automatically. The pump was going extremely slow so I went in the car and got caught up in reading blogs haha. Was actually reading Tall Moms  blog when this car pulled up and said my gas was overflowing! $63 later, this is the result. 
Went in to let the clerk know there was gas everywhere and she just stared at me, not even an apology that apparently the pump was broke and I just threw away $20. (the one instance on non southern charm we experienced).
We actually managed to get one of the recommended hotels on the race website, Hilton, at a crazy discount thanks to B's AAA membership. Location was PERFECT as it was an easy 5 min walk to the convention center/expo, as well as on the homestretch of the finish line. 
After unpacking we decide to dress for the evening so we could get packet pickup and then walk around in search of food. Expo was inside the Jackson convention complex- which the building itself (at least on the outside) was gorgeous. 

Can u see me in the picture?
So apparently B and I came in the 'wrong' door because we went up to the escalator to the expo, walk into the race pickup area, and realize we didn't see a sign where we needed to look up our bib numbers. A lady outside packet pickup told us we had to go back downstairs and there was a large board with all the numbers. Down the escalator. Ask some of the 'helpers' (who by the way were standing by the door we came in and should have told us to go down the hall first before going upstairs) and they point us in the right direction. Look up our bib numbers, go upstairs, get in line, and then my turn comes up and I tell the lady my number. She informs me I need to have a waiver that has my bib number first before she can give me my number. I ask her where they are located and she lets me know right where I looked to find my number- seriously? Back down the escalator. Manage to find a stray waiver lying on the table (which by the way wasn't obvious if you weren't looking for it) and fill out info to head back up to show the ladies. I was extremely frustrated because wasn't it supposed to be the 3 ladies job that were standing at the door when you walk in to tell you what to do?!? 3rd time is a charm and finally got my number and bag.
The expo itself was smaller, had your typical merchandise. They did have Dane Rauschenberg from See Dane Run, so that was pretty neat (although I didn't officially meet him, I was 5ft away from him)
Now if you're the type of person who gets excited about what comes inside your race bag- you would have been in heaven with this race.
So we have the bag itself, which as you can see is pretty awesome, especially because its like a track / athletic drawstring bag that you can put on your shoulders. 
2nd is the shirt- now its not a tech tee that most  races will hand out-just plain old cotton t-shirt. However since I'm obsessed with Elvis, I love it :) 

The back of everyone's shirt varied, but they were all quotes from famous people talking about what they thought of Elvis Presley! 
Inside the bag I think they tried to mix up who got what, but in mine I got Elvis' signature gold glasses with attached sideburns (pic farther down); cd of blues music, and a harmonica. B was laughing at me because I was like a little kid in the candy shop with my excitement. I got the last laugh though because she didn't get the cool sunglasses in her bag! 
its tiny, but it has the race and date etched on there
After expo we walked around by our hotel. Grabbed 2 drinks at a swanky bar / restaurant, but food was so overpriced that we decided to check out the bar in our hotel for dinner. Now this is the 2nd race that while sitting at the bar, we friended an older man trying to do 50 marathons in 50 states. In Charlotte it was Bob, and in Jackson we met John. The cool part about John, was he actually came down here to be the 3:20 pacer for the marathon (super fast) AND after talking for awhile he told us that a year or two back he ended up beating Dean Karnazes aka 'Karno' in the last 100 meters of the Arizona Rock n' Roll marathon. Apparently Karno wasn't too happy about being beat in the last part of the race, and let John know about it lol. Whoops!
We said goodnight & good luck to John and headed to our room for shut eye around 10pm.

So even though the day before it was in the 60s, saturday was much colder, especially for a 7am race start (mid to low 30s). Me being the forgetful person that I have a tendency to be, didn't plan for cold weather because told me when I was packing it would be 55, so all I had were my skirt and tank top. 
Rocking the shades w/ sideburns and the harmonica- no i didn't run w/ them
I was nervous for this race because there were a lot of firsts for me.
1. compression socks- only wore them once, and it was for a 3 mile run- decided last min to wear them to offer me some warmth
2. new and shorter skirt- did wear my compression shorts under them
3.Garmin watch- was worried that i would be obsessed w/ my time and not focus on the run itself
4. Ipod shuffle vs. my phone on armband
5. new earphones (still haven't found any that i just love)
6. wore my fuel belt (minus the bottles) so I had a pouch to keep my phone in so B & I could find eachother after race.
Race start was about a 7-10 minute walk up our same street, so we waited in the WARM lobby for as long as we could

Now again, I don't know what it is about older men, but they just LOVE me and B- so naturally this one (who i forgot his name, but of course was running the full) started talking to us about how he is trying to do a race in every state as well. He offered me a trash bag to keep warm, which I happily accepted and after my struggle to put it on, all 3 of us braved the cold and made the walk to the start line. Wished him good luck, as well as B and then made my way to a more comfortable position. B and I have different paces, so she likes to start farther back... I'm still trying to convince her to at least start closer so she doesn't have as much bobbing and weaving to do.
I ditched the trash bag a min or 2 before gun went off and just waited for the start. If there is one thing I have learned about myself and running in the cold, its that I need to go out easier to let my lungs adjust, and then pick up the pace when I'm ready. Luckily I'm trying to be a good student and listen to my body, so I ran a very comfortable first mile at 8:39- If I would have known what this course had in store, I probably would have gone out MUCH slower.
Now this is the elevation profile listed on the website- I don't know how to copy and paste the elevation from my garmin, but i can assure you- its like you are looking at 2 different maps (with the one shown below as the lesser elevation change of the two)
After running the rolling hills of Charlotte, I thought that had been a tough course, but now I can officially say this is the worst.course.ever. 
1. Hills, Hills, Hills. I kid you not, when one hill would end, there may be a min or two break before another one began. It got to the point that when mile 6 came, I was cursing in my head thinking I wasn't even half way done 
2. Completely boring. They had us run along the highway a few times and along the most unscenic nothing to look at streets
3. Pollution / car exhaust- bc we were constantly around the highway and lots of cars, it was hard (at least for me) to breathe without sucking in all those fumes
4. some of the mile markers weren't marked-  unless I blacked out and missed it, so there was one point where I didn't know what mile I was on. Now for the mile markers that were on the course, they were way off. I remember at mile 6 my garmin beeped at me and then 50 sec later i get to the the marker. 
5. the terrain / asphalt was uneven and full of potholes. There was a guy in the beginning who zoomed by me wearing vibrams, I caught back up to him at mile 7- he said his feet were in so much pain. I learned later that day from my gf who lives in Jackson that its because of the Yazoo clay in the soil that expands and contracts with rain- bah!

I'm off my rant now. The race itself was pretty uneventful. I did get passed by an Elvis- I wanted so bad to ask him if we could get our picture together... I should have. Miles 1-9 were brutal with constant hills; finally we got a break and miles 9-12 were relatively flat with an occasional hill.  I'll admit, I worked so hard in the first half that my body was exhausted the 2nd half and I walked.... several times :(  When mile 11 hit there was one major hill to go up and then I told myself that I just had 2 miles left, anywhere b/n 16-20 minutes depending on how I wanted to drag it out. My hips were KILLING me with all the pounding of the hills and the uneven roads. I let myself take it easy till mile 12 hit, and then I attempted to 'pick up the pace' the last mile. Finally I get to the area I recognize, pass my hotel, and get within range of other people. (I was pretty much running by myself after mile 7) I passed up an older guy who i briefly talked to around mile 9, so that felt victorious. The last stretch was frustrating because you know the finish line is at the top of the hill at the end of the street, yet it doesn't look any closer. On my venture to the start line earlier that morning I picked a spot where I told myself would be a good distance to start kicking it in- Congress St. Once I finally reached the intersection, it no longer looked doable to have a fast pace for that long, but I managed to open my stride and pass one person. I finally could make out the numbers on the clock and it was in the 1:56- I was so shocked because I had walked quite a bit and expected my time to be slower. As I'm approaching the finish line they announce my name (I love it when they do that!) and immediately was greeted with my medal. Race official time was 1:56:50, so garmin was super close! Was funny to see that all my slowest times mile 10,11,12 were when it was flat- kind of took advantage and attempted to rest my legs. 
















After the race I headed into the food tent and was actually impressed with variety of choices. Bananas (of course) all different types of cookies, granola bars, rice and beans w/ sausage (its the south), little caesars pizza, pb and banana sandwiches (elvis' favorite meal), water, gatorade and my absolute new FAVORITE- Gatorade Recovery protein shake (out of the new Gatorade 3 steps series) Never have seen this before and it was awesome- take 1/2 of it within 30 minutes to 1 hour of workout, the other have 2 hours later. If you like chocolate shakes, you'll like this.
As I was waiting to get my phone call from B that she was done, I happened to find fellow blogger Becka @ 50 half marathons in 50 states and her sister. After a few months of following her racing ventures, it was neat to finally meet her in person. Got to chat for a few minutes on what they both thought of the race / swapped stories. As an added bonus, she showed me how to change the settings on my garmin so I can see my pace AND my total time- will definitely come more in handy for my next race! Said goodbye to them and wished them both luck for their half in Alabama the following day (double header weekend) and ventured off to find B. She did pretty well too despite all the hills. Goof off for a bit and the make our way back to hotel
An Elvis cake!
On our way back we saw the first marathon guy finishing 2:19:47 w/ 2nd place 2:19:51- damn thats close. The female time was AMAZING as well 2:40:18- geez. I can only hope that I finish in under 5 hours for my first one haha. As we're walking back it was fun to cheer for people and how receptive EVERYONE was as they're running or in some cases struggling- each one thanking us. 
Official time 1:56:50

finished 218 overall
10/61 in age group
40/442 sex /pl

Overall I loved everything about the race, except the actual race itself. The bags and goodies were awesome, the volunteers were great, lot of people i saw in costume which livened things up, the spectators that were out were friendly, after race food was plentiful, and of course I enjoyed the southern hospitality of everyone we came in contact with. The course was just awful terrain, hard on joints, and boring. However if you HAVE to race in Mississippi because you need to complete this state, I guess this would be the one to choose bc Jackson is the biggest city in MS, and from what I'm told, the best financially stable of all the cities in the state as well (MS is poorest state in US) **Word to the wise though- if you stay downtown, get your car from valet and drive out for food, found out the hard way for our post race meal that restaurants either don't open on weekends, or only for dinner after 4:30 pm **

State #5 check done
Next up- Savannah, Ga February 5th!


  1. Wow, I am so impressed by your time with all those brutal sounding hills! What an accomplishment! :)

  2. You seriously rocked this! I probably would have broke down and cried with so many hills - hate 'em!!