Mississippi Blues Marathon, Sat Jan 11, 2014 - KickRunners.com
 
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#1 of 9 Old 01-21-2014, 04:56 PM - Thead Starter
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I'm sure you've all been dying to read my long, boring Race Report.  Well, here it is, finally...

 

On Saturday January 11, 2014, I ran the Mississippi Blues Marathon in Jackson MS.  Mississippi became my 28th state in my quest to run a marathon in all 50 states.


It had been more than six months since my last marathon in Alaska.  I hadn't necessarily intended to take that much time off.  But I had been feeling a little run down after that last marathon, and I wanted to make sure I had ample time to "recharge".  Even after getting back in to marathon training mode, my mileage was still less that usual.


The 3:44 that I ran in Minnesota was a long time ago.  My days of even breaking 4 hours might be over.  The last time I did that was in 2011, for crying out loud.  Getting older, gaining a few pounds, and running fewer miles is not a good combination for running a fast marathon.  Throw in a course in Jackson that is known to be somewhat hilly, and I knew that this would be a slow one.  As always, my primary goal was just to finish the race and check another state off the map.  If I had any sort of time goal, it was just to avoid a new Personal Worst.  My first marathon in Chicago in 2005 is still my slowest one (4:27), and I want that to remain my slowest one for as long as possible.  I'd never really feared that I'd be slower than that before, but this time, I thought there was a halfway decent chance.


I flew into New Orleans the day before the race.  Jackson is a couple hours north of New Orleans, but I like road-tripping through parts of the country that are new to me.  Plus, I arranged my flights so that I had plenty of free time, and could spend a little time in the French Quarter, at both ends of the trip.  So after arriving in New Orleans late Friday morning, I had lunch in the French Quarter.  I had an alligator po' boy, which might not be the best pre-race fuel, but I like having "local cuisine" when I'm out of town.


I drove up to Jackson, found my hotel, and picked up my race packet from the expo.  I grabbed a quick bite for dinner, and then turned in early.  A good night's sleep is always important before a marathon.


I woke up at 5am, had some breakfast, and then made my way over to the start/finish area.  There was plenty of parking right nearby, which was very nice.  It was about a mile from my hotel, and if parking was a problem, I would have walked it.  But everyone said that the parking was easy, so I happy to save myself the walk.  The only problem was that the rental car key and its keychain were huge and I would have to carry it with me all day.  But so be it.


My plan was to start out nice and slow, and that I did.  My first mile was completed in 9:38, which is probably even slower than I intended.  But maybe that was a good thing.  Going slow at the beginning and conserving some energy is usually wise.  Often, what I do is start out a little too fast with the idea of "banking time", so that if/when I do fall apart, that banked time will still allow me to reach my time goal.


I did gradually speed up.  Mile 4 was done in 9:07, and that turned out to be my fastest mile of the day.  After that mile, I slowed down a little and settled into a good groove around 9:20.  That groove lasted nicely through the whole first half of the race.  I passed the halfway point at right around 2:03.  I was almost surprised that it felt this easy.  I had really struggled in some of my training runs before I was through 13 miles, so I was quite pleased that I made it this far this easily.


Additionally, making it thru the halfway point in 2:03 means I had banked plenty of time, so even with a rough second half, I should still be able to avoid a new PW.  Of course, there was no way I could do a 2:03 in the second half.  Negative splits are not my thing.  It might not be the most efficient way to run a fast time, but having this much time in the bank sure made the second half of this race fairly stress free.


I actually completed Mile 15 in 9:10, which made it my second-fastest mile of the day.  However, right after that, I started to slow down dramatically.  The mile marker for Mile 16 was on a fairly long hill, and I decided to take the opportunity there to take a walk break, my first of the day.  I resumed running, and made it through to Mile 20 without having a mile over 10 minutes.


However, by Mile 20 I was feeling rather spent.  Surprisingly, however, I wasn't in pain.  So I was feeling pretty good, just slow.  At this point, I decided to walk any remaining uphill climbs, and attempt to run the rest.  The course was full of rolling hills, so that might mean a bunch of walk breaks in the near future.  And that was exactly the case.  My walk-uphill strategy seemed to work, however, because I continued to feel pretty good.


All that walking dragged my splits down, of course.  But I made it to the finish line well ahead of PW range.  I finished in 4:20:24, which is right about what I was hoping for.  And it was right in line with most marathons I have completed in the last couple of years.


Overall, I'm quite pleased with the race.  Sure, it was slower than I used to be.  And I'm sure I could be faster now, if I lost some weight and put in more training miles.  But based on where I am now, I think this was just about the best I could do.  And to top it off, I still felt good.


I went back to my room for a short nap, then went out to watch some of the NFL playoff games.  At night, various bars around Jackson were having a Blues pub crawl as part of marathon weekend.  I stopped by a couple of places and listened to some good blues music, then went back to my hotel and called it a night.  The next day I drove back to New Orleans, spent a couple more hours on Bourbon Street, and then caught my flight home.


All in all, it was a very enjoyable weekend.  I've gotten used to travelling to these races by myself, and I've gotten used to meeting a lot of 50 Staters and Marathon Maniacs.  It's very informative to talk with these other veteran runners to find out what races they've liked and haven't liked around the country.


I found the Mississippi Blues Marathon to be a very well-run event.  The course was quite scenic for the most part.  And the volunteers were the friendliest I think I've ever encountered.  Just about every volunteer along the course was thanking the runners for coming to their event.  I kept thinking that I should be thanking them for volunteering their time to help us out.  I do like to thank as many volunteers as I can, but there comes a point at which I don't talk any more because I'm trying to conserve all the energy I can.  I've always found that Southern hospitality truly does exist, and this race just proves that to be so.  I really enjoyed the weekend, and would gladly recommend the Mississippi Blues Marathon to anyone wanting to run a marathon in the deep South.

 

Now on to the usual barrage of BobCam shots, with the added bonus of having a number of videos thrown in.  I don't know why it took me this long to realize that I could take videos with my BobCam camera.  So for the first time, I got to record exactly what I was thinking and feeling at the exact moment I was thinking and feeling it, as opposed to just a recap that I had to recollect some time later.  Well, here goes...

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#2 of 9 Old 01-21-2014, 04:56 PM - Thead Starter
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A bunch of people hanging around before dawn, waiting for the start of the race:

 

I'm just about to move across the start line:

 

Running through the campus of Jackson State University:

 

The cheerleaders and marching band were there to cheer us on:

 

Lots of runners going around a corner:

 

I always find an American flag to take a picture of:

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#3 of 9 Old 01-21-2014, 04:56 PM - Thead Starter
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Coming back across the start line, a little after Mile 3:

 

I don't know if this shot adequately shows an example of it, but there were A LOT of hills in Jackson:

 

Time for the first video.  About 6.5 miles in:

 

 

Another pic of a hill:

 

 

Random guitar player along the side of the road:

 

 

Sign says "Run like it's the start of the Hunger Games"

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#4 of 9 Old 01-21-2014, 04:56 PM - Thead Starter
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Next video, 10 miles in:

 

I was afraid we were about to turn on to the interstate.  But nope, we went alongside it:

 

All the bells and whistles associated with the halfway point:

 

 

Video at the halfway point:

 

Running past a nice big house:

 

Video at Mile 16:

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#5 of 9 Old 01-21-2014, 04:56 PM - Thead Starter
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Running past a huge house:

 

Nice lakeside scenery:

 

Video at Mile 18:

 

Running out and back down this street:

 

 

Video at Mile 20:

 

 

Running on the side of a highway is never a favorite of mine:

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#6 of 9 Old 01-21-2014, 04:56 PM - Thead Starter
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Video at Mile 22:

 

 

Video at Mile 24:

 

 

Guy in a banana suit?

 

 

Video at Mile 25.5:

 

 

 

Mile 26:

 

 

Finish Line up ahead:

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Almost there:

 

 

All done!

 

 

Posing with the scenery:

 

 

I swiped this from the race photographer's website.  (Note the word "proof" across the shot)

 

 

Another swiped pic:

 

 

Video right after the finish:

 

 

Here's a pic I took later that day of the state capitol building.  I think I'm starting to collect shots of state capitols:

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#8 of 9 Old 01-22-2014, 09:10 AM
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Yah for knocking another state off the list! :)

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#9 of 9 Old 01-30-2014, 01:22 PM
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congrats bob!!!! i'm loving the videos, too. 

 

i think you could run two marathons back to back in two days. i feel like you have enough experience and miles under your belt that it wouldn't be as crazy of a proposition as you'd like to think. i mean, you'd have to expect to run both in 5ish hours and just take it really easy - but the first one would have to be SUPER DUPER easy with tons of walk breaks, y'know? 

 

keep up the great job! 

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