Mississippi Blues Marathon; Jan. 9, 2016; Jackson, MS
Lifetime Marathon #28, Mississippi Marathon #3
Last weekend I kicked off the new year and ran my 28th marathon at the Mississippi Blues Marathon in Jackson, MS. This was exciting for me because the Blues 2012 was my first marathon. I’ve run the half marathon twice in 2013 & 2014 and have been looking forward to getting back into the full marathon. The course has changed since 2012 and runs what was the last 5k of the race first. I made my way to downtown Jackson early Saturday morning and awaited what was supposed to be a long, wet and rainy morning of running. In typical Blues fashion I was in full “Where’s Waldo” gear.
I had a fairly simple game plan for the race
- run 26.2 miles
- save the energy for Louisiana next week
I was planning on running between 10-11 minutes per mile from the start. As the race kicked off it was a slight rain and we made our way through the campus of Jackson State University. I found one of my best friends Pittman before the start and ran with him for the first 6 or so miles. He had been training diligently for the event, I was hunting food and drinks. At mile 4 I snagged a doughnut from a spectator and told Pittman to smile because this was a picture of me being happier than he was. (Having a doughnut is always better than not having a doughnut.)
As we approached the marathon/half marathon split near mile 7 I dropped back and let Pittman and his buddy run ahead. I found a few Marathon Maniacs in the crowd and ran and talked for a while. This would be my strategy for the remainder of the race. Find a Maniac, talk to them for 2-3 miles get distracted by something on the course (like my favorite set of Lululemon signs), fall back and find new Maniacs.
I lucked into a few groups of spectators out cheering on runners and grabbed a few drinks along the way and met some great people. I make it a point to put my instagram/twitter handle on my bib so people can tag me in pictures after the race. There were some great ones sent my way by spectators.
As I approached Mile 20 it was starting to rain again and I ran into my friend Sham, he was having a bit of a rough morning, he had pains in his quads and had fallen off his goal pace for the race. Nothing a little Jackson, Mississippi brewed Balistic Blonde Ale couldn’t help solve. By Mile 23 it was really raining hard and the streets were starting to become more floods than puddles. Take a look at that roadway! I found some people along the course with a tent and mimosas, so naturally I made friends with them and ducked out of the weather for a few minutes.
Interestingly enough, the rain subsided and the sun came out for the last 2 miles as the course runs back into downtown Jackson. I came through the finish chute and stopped to say hi to Pittman and his family (he finished in 4:28:41, more than 15 minutes faster than the Blues 2012 Marathon!) and waved at Brooklyn as I went by and finished the race in an astounding 4:59:22, making the 2015 Blues Marathon my official non-runDisney Personal Worst time beating out the Rock ‘n’ Roll Savannah Marathon by almost 6 minutes. (Dani would be proud)
The post race party was exciting as it always is at the Blues. Plenty of food and drink to go around for everyone and photo opportunities scattered along. I took a lot of pictures with people, some I knew and some I didn’t. I used to live in the Jackson area and worked as a pace group leader in a marathon training program at Fleet Feet and it’s always great being back in town and seeing the people that I used to help train. The Blues is an incredibly well organized and put on event, but don’t let anyone tell you the course is an easy one. It is a hilly course and the elevation chart is something that should taken seriously. But in addition to what is consistently one of the best finisher medals in the country (2015 is no exception) each runner also receives a harmonica and a CD of blues music. I never would have thought that I would have an expansive harmonica collection, but 4 years of this race and they are really starting to pile up.
I say every year that I wish there was more happening at the expo. The vendors are very limited, the layout isn’t great and the music is too loud to have a conversation. It isn’t an inviting atmosphere to be around for an extended amount of time. In my view if you have a fantastic event, but each year it is in direct competition with the Walt Disney World Marathon held on the same weekend you have to do everything you can to keep people excited about the event. But Holy Mackeral! Did you see how awesome that medal is? Dedicated to the memory of the late Blues Legend B.B. King.
Finish Time – 4:59:22
Overall – 440/755
Male – 278/422
25-29 – 22/25