Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Hills of Jackson MS - A Tough race done!

When I saw the video put together by the organizers - the one that apologized to the runners for all of the serious hills - I knew this was going to be one tough race.  The race planners' rationale for all of those hills?  If they were going to bring 3,000 people into their city, they were going to showcase what Jackson has to offer.  And to do that, there would be some hills in the way. 

I was ready for it.  I stuck to my plan, one that I instituted the first time I ran the Flying Pig Half Marathon in Cincinnati in 2010.  Walk the steeper uphills, run like crazy on the downhills. 

Did I say it was cold??
Wiping my drippy nose!
I kept watching the weather on all evening, and logged back in on race day morning, just to be sure.  Overnight lows had moderated somewhat from what they were predicted a couple of days earlier.  But I packed for every contingency since, when I left home, it was forecasted to be 31 degrees at the start with possible rain.  Yuck!  

 When I awoke at 5:30 AM on race day morning, the temps had warmed even more from the previous day's forecast.  It was 35 degrees and should reach 37 or 38 degrees by 7:00 AM when the race starts.  Rain was still in the forecast, but not expected to move in until around 11:00 AM, and I'd be done by then and back in my hotel room.  So I stuck with my plans to wear the heaviest long-sleeve running top I own, the one with the half-zip, high neck, and half-mitt sleeves.  This shirt, long running pants, a bandana around my neck, and wool knit gloves should work.  Even if the rain were to move in earlier than predicted, I'd be okay. 

There were no corral assignments at the start, a sure indicator of the small size of the race.  My hotel was close by, within a 5 minute walk, so I lingered in the hotel lobby as long as I dared before walking the few blocks to the start line. 

And with a "One, two, three...go!" we were sent on our way!
Within the first 1/2 mile of the start, we were faced with the first steep uphill.  But the good news was that for every steep uphill there was an ultimate downhill and if my pace slowed to a walk on those uphills, I made up for it by barreling down the backsides of those hills. 
Crossing finish line
The course was interesting and never boring.  Those "mid-race flats" never seemed to hit me like they do in other races, mostly because at that point on the route, we were taking frequent left and right turns and negotiating hill after hill.  At around mile 10 a really excellent blues singer sat all alone, amplified guitar reaching out to us from 1/2 a mile away.  He was an older man, and his guitar blues were outstanding!

Another couple of miles and then we turned right, ran alongside the governor's mansion, and made our last left turn and headed uphill toward the finish line, the overhead banner framing the historic Old Capitol Building. 

And then there's that finisher's medal!!

I walked back to the hotel, got cleaned up, packed, and then checked out, but not before uploading my Garmin run data to RunKeeper and sending a photo of my finisher's medal to Facebook.

I met up with some friends at a nearby McAlister's for a celebratory lunch afterward.  It was a good visit, and a chance to get caught up with a couple of the folks whom I'd not seen in a while.

Here's what my 50 States-50 Half Marathons map looks like now:

Next race on the calendar is the Houston Aramco Half Marathon next Sunday.  I'm fairly certain that I will go pick up my race packet, browse the vendors at the fitness expo, but not run in the race.  Rather, I'll take the weekend off in preparation for my next race which is the Louisiana Half Marathon in Baton Rouge the following weekend.  Until then, it will be easy recovery runs this week, perhaps a longer run this coming weekend, one or two shorter runs next week, and then the Louisiana race on the 20th.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, how cool that you were serenaded by blues towards the end. I bet that helped you to press on.

    Great looking medal to add to the rack too. Nice job!!