Another seagull trip for Webmaster Bill, 50 Sub 4 travel buddy Joey, and me. Swoop in, grab a marathon, fly out.
We arrived in Jackson, Mississippi about lunch time on Friday, and made a quick trip to packet pickup. Race perks included a harmonica with the marathon logo. Very cool. I just hope tomorrow's flight crew likes to hear people learn to play the harmonica.
We enjoyed a brief driving tour of Jackson, and then a stop at the capitol building. JoeWee made his best attempt to pose gubenatorally for a photo op.
Here are 2 little tidbits that I just inadvertently learned while preparing this recap: 1. Jackson is not only the capital of Mississippi (which I knew), but is also the largest city in MS with a population of 175,000. That's pretty small for a largest city, IMHO. 2. Capital (with an A) refers to the city, and Capitol (with an O) refers to the building. There may be a quiz later.
Our pre-race dinner was at Underground 119
. A cool bar/restaurant place. We sat at the bar, and Bill and JoeWee sampled a couple different beers. We chatted with the bar tender, and some locals, and decided that Jackson, MS is a darn friendly place.
Prior to the marathon start, we were treated to the coolest version of the Nation Anthem that I have heard: a blues guitar version. I found the 2012 MS Blues Marathon Nation Anthem
at YouTube. Not sure if it's the same guy, but if someone told me it was, I'd believe them.
JoeWee and I lined up for the start. Our plan is to start with about a 3:25 to 3:30 finish time pace, and then see how we feel at half way. So we lined up between the 3:35 pacer and the 3:20 pacer. Just one problem, the 3:35 pacer was in front of the 3:20. Hmmm. For those of you not familiar with the lining up process, and for 3:35 pacer guy, you are supposed to line up in the field according to how you expect to finish. Fastest runners in the front, slowest in the back. This prevents dodging, criss-crossing, bottlenecks, etc. You want people running the same pace to be grouped together, otherwise, we are as fluid as a potato in a rain gutter.
For those not familiar, and for 3:35 pacer guy, a pacer's primary goal is to finish within about a minute of the time listed on his or her pacer sign, by running as evenly as possible. His secondary job is to sort of take his groupies under his wing, talk to them, offer encouragement. On a hilly course like this, mile splits are not going to be even, but each should be within a few seconds of the overall goal pace. A 3:35 pacer should be within about 5 seconds of an 8:12 minute per mile pace.
JoeWee and I covered our first 5 miles averaging just over 7:40 per mile, and 3:35 pacer guy was ahead of us, and pulling away. We noticed he was wearing headphones. When looking through Webmaster Bill's photos later, we noticed he was NOT wearing a watch. OK. Did someone give this guy the 3:35 pacer sign as a joke? Because this cannot be serious.
The 3:20 pace group caught up to us about mile 11, where we found Alicia Eno, fellow 50 Sub 4
member leading the pace group. We met Alicia at the Rocket City Marathon
Just before mile 13, a spectator cheered for us "You're half way there." This a dead give-away that the spectator is not a runner. Though cheering and encouragement is appreciated, we runners NEVER call it half way until AFTER 13.1 miles. You might think we are splitting hairs, or we are OCD or obsessed, and well... no argument. But its not half way until we are MORE than half way. We also joke about the fact that spectators like to say things like 'this is the last hill', or 'Its all downhill from here' and other well intentioned lies.
We saw a spectator sign that we both really liked: "If you need encouragement from a sign, you're screwed". Very true. Its fun to see spectators with all kinds of signs, cheers, etc. But its really fun to see the lighter side, and humor of things too.
Around mile 14, JoeWee decided to speed up a bit, and I slowed a bit, so we parted. JoeWee ran negative splits and finished with an impressive 3:19.
The last few blocks were undeniably uphill. JoeWee was cheering about 100 yards from the finish, and when I passed by he yelled "Its all downhill from here!" Thanks, Mr. Smarty Pants. (smiley face).
Coolest finisher medal ever. Love the guitar pick and the strap too. And this had to be the friendliest marathon ever. Friendliest city. Everyone thanked us for coming and running.
Post race amenities included a very generous 3 beers, cookies, soup, and pizza. To our amazement, there was still plenty of pizza for us marathoners.
All too often, the half marathoners deplete pizza supplies before marathoners finish and get hungry.
The course was very hilly, and the footing was pretty bad - lots of potholes and cracks, and very bumpy pavement. But it was a very scenic course. Lots of nice residential neighborhoods, and views of downtown, including the current capitol and the old capitol.
After finishing, we met up with our 50 Sub 4 friends, and chatted about... well.. running of course. What we liked about today's marathon, what we were doing next, etc. It was about 48 degrees, and starting to rain. I am clutching to my mylar blanket and impersonating a baked potato to try to keep from freezing to death.
If you don't mind hills and bumpy roads, and don't need a 3:35 pacer, I would definitely recommend this marathon. Truly enjoyed this one: friendliest people, best finisher medal, best national anthem, scenic course, nice post-race amenities, nice small big city for a short visit.
Here's the score:
Sub 4 Marathon states: 27
Marathon states: 31
2013 marathons: 1