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Thursday, January 23, 2014

#68 and #69- My First Back to Back Marathons at The Mississippi Blues and The Servis 1St Bank First Light Marathons!

If you follow my blog you know that I have never had any desire to do a back to back (or a double as some call them). After one marathon the mere thought of getting up super early on the weekend two days in a row just has absolutely ZERO appeal to me. Then there is the running another 26.2 miles the next day. NO THANKS!
Then I got a message from a Facebook friend alerting me to the fact that The Mississippi Blues Marathon in Jackson, Mississippi was offering free entry to a runner from Utah to round out their representation of all 50 States. I contacted the race director and let's just say he hooked me up!!
I had this race on my radar as the one I would do for Mississippi, but I didn't think it would happen this year, so I was pretty happy when I found out I would be knocking off Mississippi sooner than expected.
I told my running buddy, friend and neighbor Galen that I was going to Mississippi and he just had to tell me that there was another marathon the next day in Mobile, Alabama. "It's a really great double" he said. "You could knock off two states inexpensively" he said! "Ugh!" I said and I signed up for my first back to back marathon weekend!
Let's start with #68, The Mississippi Blues Marathon!

I flew into Jackson on Friday, January 10th. I had a layover in Atlanta, which of course was delayed 2 hours, but I did get to see my friend Floyd from Washington, D.C. who was also heading to the race.
When we got on the plane, there were a few other Maniacs heading to the race too. I sat across the isle from a nice Maniac named Chris. When we got off the plane, he offered me and another Maniac he had never met a ride to the expo! It was really nice of him!

Ran into some of my favorite Maniacs at the expo!

After leaving the expo, I went to check into my hotel. Another Maniac, Eddie gave me a ride there! Again, so nice!

The Jackson Marriott was the host hotel, and I would like to say here that I have NEVER had better customer service at any hotel I have stayed at. I asked for a late check out, the manager gave me a 3:00pm checkout! You read that right folks 3:00pm!!! Anything I asked for, the staff went out of their way to accommodate. I highly recommend staying there if you are doing the race next year!

I got up to my room and opened my expo bag to find a lot of goodies!

The swag consisted of a nice shopping bag, a half zip fleece jacket, a harmonica, and a CD of local blues bands!
Just when I got my stuff unpacked I headed downstairs to see where I could get dinner. That's when I got a message from my pal Scott from Illinois! He and his friend Scott wanted to check out a place called "Shuckers" for dinner and asked if I would like to join them. I was totally up for the adventure as this place was about 20 miles out of town!
We had some OK food and some great laughs, then headed back into town to get ready for race day!

Scott and I had so many ones between us, we looked like we were ready to hit a strip club! Hee Hee!

After a good night's sleep I was up and ready to conquer the first race in my back to back!
I woke up feeling pretty good. I got down to the start of the race, met up with some Maniacs and before I knew it we off and running!
Maniacs at the start of the Mississippi Blues Marathon!

Local musician, Patrick Harkins played the National Anthem in true Mississippi blues fashion!

And we are off!

4 time world record holder, Larry Macon out on the course!

There were lots of drum corps on the course...

...and some good bands too!
I met Tim Troxel at the SoJo Marathon here in Utah about 1 1/2 years ago. I was really sick and was only planning to try and get 10 miles of the marathon in as my sickness had already robbed me of the previous week's long run. Tim and my other friend Tim Gill ran with me and convinced me that I could do the whole race. With their help, I did!
I was so happy to see Tim again and we ran most of the race together, picking up other fun people along the way!

Our new friend Christine, Sarah, Tim, Me, and Larry!

Need I say more?

Yep, we were SLOW!

The one thing I can say about the Mississippi Blues Marathon is that it is hilly! The last few miles felt tough. Following Galen's advice, I ran the first race as if I was doing an ultra. I walked the big hills and ran the flats and downhills. I think that strategy worked. I didn't run my fastest race, but I was able to finish with something left in the tank for my next race the next day.

Sarah, Tim, Me, and Christine at the finish.

Race #1 complete!
OK! Let's talk about the Mississippi Blues Marathon medal. THIS IS THE COOLEST MEDAL EVER!!!! It is huge! 

I am in love with this medal.
After the race, I went back to the Marriott, took a shower and met another AWESOME Maniac willing to give me a ride. Letty and her family picked me up and gave me a ride to Mobile, Alabama where we would embark on race #2!!! THANK YOU SOOOOOO MUCH LETTY!!
Let's move on to #69, The Servis 1St Bank First Light Marathon!
On the way Letty, her family and I stopped for lunch. When we got to the packet pickup of The Servis 1St Bank First Light Marathon, there were lots of people there eating the free pasta dinner.
We headed in and picked up our packets. One great thing about doing the double was getting extra swag!
Not only did we get a marathon shirt, we got a shirt for doing the "Back to Back"!

Everyone that did the "Back to Back" got a plaque made by one of the members of L'Arche (L'Arche is an international federation of communities in which people with an intellectual disability and those who help them can live, work, and share their lives together). My plaque was made by Peggy. When I read that she liked listening to Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton, I broke into tears. I thought of my own mother and this plaque suddenly became very special to me. I got to meet Peggy at the finish line and tell her how much I love and will treasure her plaque.
Sophia, Mike and I with a few Southern Belles at the pasta dinner.

After we got our packets we joined a lot of other Maniacs for the free pasta dinner. Since we had eaten before, I was not that hungry and only had a little portion spaghetti, salad and a piece of apple pie. Everything tasted fine.
We then went and checked into our hotel and hit the hay. I was officially exhausted. Then it happened.
At 3:00am my stomach started rumbling. To spare you the gory details, I was in and out of the bathroom for the next 3 1/2 hours. Luckily for me whatever it was that made me sick, passed before I left my room to head out to the start.
When I got to the lobby, Letty asked me if I was sick during the night. When I said yes, she shared that her whole family was really sick too. Then almost everyone we talked to had some problems too. We all think it was the pasta dinner, though the Health Department is still investigating. 
Once outside The weather was cool, but perfect for running! We got everyone together for a group pic when I realized, I had left my camera on and the battery died. So thanks to everyone that let me use your photos!

Maniacs at the start!

Me getting ready to go!
This was the first race in forever that was not chip timed. It was kind of strange when the gun went off. I didn't start my watch right away as I was waiting to cross the timing mats, but there were none!
The race was really pretty and I forgot how much I love that southern hospitality. It was so cute when I would run by and a lady would yell "Good job y'all!" or "Y'all are doin' real good!" in a cute southern accent. It was sweet.

It was so nice to meet up with Cathie Johnson, who was running her 200th marathon with her sweet husband Troy and many friends there to support her!
There were some amazingly beautiful parts of this course. I was bummed not to have my camera!
In the last 8 miles I hooked up with fellow Maniacs Erica, Krissy and Evelyn and we made the last miles fun!

Me Evelyn and Erica having fun!

We all finished strong!

The medal was also made by the sweet L'Arche people. Very special.
There is no doubt there was a little problem with folks getting sick, but this race is top notch and I DID MY FIRST DOUBLE!! I surprised myself as I really wasn't sure I could do it. Next up? The Louisiana Marathon and the Marathon Maniacs 2014 Reunion!


Sandy Hugill said...

I'm surprised to learn this was your first double. So...will you do another?

Angie Whitworth Pace said...

I don't have one planned any time soon. I need my beauty sleep! Hee Hee!