I was pretty excited when I got the email from Tony Phillippi of the Marathon Maniacs asking me to organize the 2015 Marathon Maniacs / Half Fanatics reunion! This would be my 3rd year of organizing the annual reunion and I love it!
This year was to be special, as this was the first year the reunion would be a double marathon weekend. Saturday would be the Mississippi Blues Marathon in Jackson, MS and Sunday we would run the Servis 1st Bank First Light Marathon in Mobile, AL
As the organizer of the reunion, I flew into Jackson on Thursday, so I could be ready for our members to check in when the expo opened.
The expo opened at 3:00pm on Thursday, but my plane didn't get in until shortly after that. I got to the expo about 4:00pm and had my table set up next to the MM/HF booth. We had a few people stop by, but by 6:00pm I packed up and headed over to pick up Jeff Bollman and David Holman at their hotels. Local Maniac, Krissy Lizbeth invited us to dinner at a wonderful restaurant called Babalu. They had the most wonderful Sangria (which I have not had since I lived in NYC).
Just a few Maniacs at Babalu!
After dinner I dropped Jeff and David off and went back to my hotel. I stayed at the Jackson Marriott (the host hotel). I stayed there last year and had such wonderful customer service, I booked there again. This year I got the same great service. When I asked the hotel for a 3:00pm late check out, they gave it to me without batting an eye. This kind of service will always keep me coming back!
The next morning, I was back at the expo at 8:30am to start what would be a very long day of checking people in, handing out dinner wristbands and bib stickers for those running the Back2Back.
As the expo got busy, I was so glad to see the "Big 3" (Steven, Tony and Chris) and Patti Krebsbach get there. Patti and Lorinda Hagstrom were such a big help when the lines got long.
My favorite NYC Maniac, Julia and I at the expo rocking the pose!
The "Big 3" and I at the expo.
As a part of the reunion, I planned a MM/HF pasta dinner and club meeting to be held at the Mississippi Museum of Art, at 5:00pm, so we packed up early and headed over there.
The dinner was sold out so it got pretty busy. THANKS to Patti, Jeff, and Houston Wolf for coming to my rescue and helping me at the front door!
The dinner was fantastic and food was delicious! The "Big 3" did some announcements and we played a trivia game (which probably would have been more fun if I had made the questions easier), and gave out a bunch of door prizes!
Huge THANKS to Marika Cackett at the Mississippi Museum of Art for working with us! She was running the double and hopefully will be joining our ranks soon!
Sabrina (MM/HF Pace Team Leader) and Lorinda at the dinner.
It is always a good time when I get to see Houston Wolf!
Steven, Houston, Chris and I at the dinner.
Lorinda, Houston, Patti, Steve and I after the dinner.
After the dinner I was exhausted and once I found out it was going to be in the 20's at the start, I was really wishing I had only signed up for the half marathon! I got to sleep a little late, but got up with no problem.
I got dressed, went down to the lobby, where they had some fruit, muffins, coffee, sports drink and waster for all the runners. I got a cup of tea and headed out to the start line for the MM/HF photo at 6:30am.
I got there at 6:30am and saw Tony and Chris. As I yelled to gather all the MM's and HF's for the official reunion picture, I was so pissed off when someone told us a girl told them to gather up and take the picture. They said they had already taken it and a bunch of people had left! WHAT? I organized the pic and was standing with two of the founders. How could it be taken before we got there? There is nothing that thrills me more than having my plans hijacked! NOT!
Maniacs at the Start! (Photo by Loan O'Brien)
It was really cold at the start. My plan was I had no plan. I knew I was running a marathon the next day, so I wanted to go somewhat easy. I remember the Mississippi Blues Course to be very hilly, so I did not want to push it.
When it is 23 degrees at the start, I look for the best looking guys I can find to keep me warm! ;-)
Houston was pacing the 1:55 half marathon so I just thought I would stick with him until the split. The plan was not to go out that fast, but I was cold and wanted to warm up quick.
As we took off the pace felt quite easy. I didn't feel like I was going out too fast. I was just running relaxed.
At one point Houston said to me, "I think you are going to get a PR today." I laughed it off and told him that he was crazy. I mean we were only about 3-4 miles into the race.
The half marathoners split at mile 6 and I said goodbye to Houston and the rest of the pace group. I felt relaxed, so I just continued on the pace I was running.
Right before the half, I stopped at the bathroom. There was no line, but I killed a few minutes there trying to get my pants drawstring un-knotted. This would not haunt me until later.
I hit the half a 1:55 and thought "Dang if I would have stayed with Houston, I would be done!" Instead I just battled every stinking hill on that course, and there were a lot!
I kept playing leap frog with my friend Andrea, who I could not get over how strong she looked on every hill. She is speedy, so the fact that I even saw her on the course was a good omen!
When I got to mile 20, I looked at my watch to see where I was. I hit mile 20 in 3:00:25. I recalled what JC Sta Teresa told Jenn Pellegrino when she was trying to break 4:00 at Big Cottonwood. He said "If you get to mile 20 in 3:00, you can break 4:00!"
Now, I didn't think I would break 4:00 as it's the last 6 miles where I generally run out of steam and mentally check out so I put that to the back of my mind and thought more about getting a PR. I felt if I could keep my pace, a 4:02- 4:03 was within reach. I just kept running to feel.
In the last mile, Patti, Lorinda and Steven ran up behind me (I thought they were way out in front of me). Patti yelled, "Excuse me! Look who is out here kicking ass!".
There was a huge hill in front of me so I let them go as I walked up it for a few seconds. In the last half mile I caught the Prez and he told me "You are going to break 4:00!" I could not even fathom that on such a hilly course.
As we came upon the mile 26 mile marker, I looked at my watch. I had about 3-4 minutes left and the sprint was on!
Running as fast as I could, another Maniac and I trying to beat 4:00, came across a wall of half marathon walkers. We yelled for them to move out of the way but they didn't move. I went plowing through them, apologizing as I did so and crossed the finish line. I stopped my Garmin and broke into tears!
Official time: 3:58:59 (3 minutes from my BQ! Dang that bathroom break!)
I could not believe it!! After 88 marathons, I had FINALLY broke 4:00!!
The coolest thing ever was to have Patti and the Prez there. Patti and I have talked about my goals and they were all so happy for me as the pride just ran down my face!
Robert (aka Latino Heat), Patti, Steven, Lorinda, Andrea and I at the finish!
I was so hoping Houston was still there as this was the second race in a row that he has predicted a PR for me and I was dying to tell him! When I finally saw him he was really happy for me. We laughed about him being my good luck charm. I want him to rub my head before by BQ attempt! Seriously! That guy is good luck! Ha Ha!
After the race we went to have a bite to eat at a burger place called Burgers & Blues. They had great food! We saw a few other Maniacs (Jenn and Kinnier from Chicago), then I said goodbye and hit the road to Mobile, AL for marathon #2 and the conclusion of the 2015 MM/HF reunion! Stay tuned!
The race medal is probably the coolest medal I have!
Race swag included a running vest, a Blues CD, a Harmonica and nice shopping bag!
I would like to give a HUGE THANK YOU to John Noblin, the Race Director of the Mississippi Blues Marathon. He really was a pleasure to work with. Also to all of the volunteers. From the expo to those freezing on the course, everyone was friendly and helpful. They made the race!