Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Mississippi Blues Half Marathon 2015

The Mississippi Blues Half Marathon takes place in Jackson, MS in January. I couldn't run it last year as it was (and still is) the same weekend as the Disney Marathon. This year I made it!! I was super excited about this race....mostly because I like the previous medals, because there would be some music on the course and I'd get to visit and run in a new state.

That said I was very nervous in the run up to the race. Not because I had any time goals. In fact, I had none this was to be an easy long run since my holiday training has not been so consistent. No it was because I kept getting emails and FB posts about the thunderstorms forecast for race morning and possible plans to delay or cancel the race. Gulp, MS is a long way to drive for a canceled race!

The race itself is on Saturday so we had to be in MS on Friday by 7pm to get the full expo or 9pm for the extended packet pickup. Nice late expo hours! We made it in loads of time and went to the convention center in downtown Jackson. The expo was good, maybe a bit small for a race of that size but they had a pretty awesome band playing the whole time.
I got my long sleeve t-shirt and immediately exchanged it for a small (sizes were unisex).  Despite the lack of gender specific cuts the t-shirt seems like really good quality. Heavy tech material and I really like that the long sleeves have a thumb loop so you can cover your hands.

This year the race paid tribute to BB King who died this year and that was reflected in the t-shirt, medal and the fact that one of his albums was in the race packet. Also in the packet was a harmonica which I cannot play for shiz. My lung capacity does not extend beyond one or two notes.

The next morning the race was at 7am. I got up in the rain at around 5.30am and got dressed. No brekkie just some water for me. We arrived at the convention center around 6am and got a free parking spot in the lot there. Just in time because 15 minutes later it was full. The start/finish area was spread out over a block or two of the city....around the art museums and the squares there. This made finding stuff a little confusing but a quick wander around and I found everything. At this stage the rain was dying off, no sign of the thunderstorm everyone was worried about. I was so excited now that I realized it wouldn't be delayed/cancelled, not so excited about running with soaked feet.

The race started exactly on time after a guitar based rendition of the national anthem. I wore my running jacket at the start and had to remove it after a mile or two. I even transfered my bib to my shirt on the run...mad skills.  After around 3 miles the course looped back through the start (nice for spectators).

What can I say about the course, hills, hills and more hills. Not all big, but damn they just kept coming. The road surface was not so good either. South Carolina people are always screaming about how bad the roads are here, they should be grateful they don't live in MS.

All the turns were very clearly marked so there was no chance of getting lost.

 Aid stations were spaced around 1.5 miles apart and I didn't need but saw port a potties several times. One thing that really stood out about this race was the volunteers. They were fantastic and so friendly, before I could even thank them for volunteering they were thanking me for coming out to run.
There weren't too many spectators out for the first few miles but when we got towards the more residential neighborhoods at the end of the race there were plenty of people about. A few unofficial aid stations were set up in front yards. Since I was running for fun I took a shot of beer at one. Another one had a sign saying "Sorry about the potholes, have a doughnut hole" I did and it was delicious. We were also entertained by music along the course. I think I counted 3 or 4 bands.

Running wise I was very glad I decided not to push the pace. Straight away I knew I was a little too tight all over to be running fast. That said I felt pretty good the whole time and the miles ticked by in the blink of an eye. I walked a few of the bigger hills in the last 4 miles of the race as I thought I felt some IT band pain beginning in my right knee, that and I was tired of the hills :) Walking held it off and I made it though with no niggles at all and collected my pretty medal at around the 2.14 hour mark.

The finish area now had a band playing, a Budweiser truck and a tent full of food. I ate a lot which is unusual for me post-race. Two slices of cheese pizza, coffee, an orange slice and two cookies. They also had hot chocolate, soup, soda, gatorade, bananas and I think some sort of BBQ. After that we listened to some music before heading back to our campgrounds.

Afterwards my lower back was tired but thats down to driving so much and then running. I peed after the you do, and thank goodness I was alone in the bathroom because I screamed my head off in surprise...serious raw skin meeting pee, not nice! The shower after hurt too but at least I was prepared. Sorry if thats TMI, I just find these situations funny. Other injuries included a sock full of blood, a long nail dug into its neighboring toe. Why do toes bleed so much for such a tiny cut?

Later leaving the campgrounds (post thunderstorm) we saw the back of the pack for the marathon and boy did they look miserable and I was so glad that wasn't me. Once again confirming that I am not ready for another marathon. No way am I running another one until I know I can run one injury free and faster than my last one. Mentally I can run a half for fun but a full other than Disney (even that I wouldn't repeat), hell no.
I really enjoyed this race. It was over way too fast.  A hilly course but everything that went along with the race was top notch. There were other extras like a Blues Crawl that were available with the race to make a weekend out if you wanted. For those true crazies out there they also put on a private bus service to Alabama for those wanting to run a double with the First Light Marathon or Half Marathon but I had other plans for camping and hiking. I'd definitely recommend this race if you like Blues music and want to run in Mississippi.

*I hope you are impressed that I can now spell Mississippi without googling it


  1. Ha! That is funny you are saying that about Mississippi! They teach us little tricks here in grade school, to spell it :)

    I bet you were so hungry after because you didn't eat before! You usually eat before a race, right?

    This sounds like a great race and I love all the swag :) I hope your IT feels better already. And the chafing, lol.

    1. So many ssssss!
      Yep usually if I have something with me I'll eat.
      The swag was A+. I barely felt the IT band just stayed aware of the warning signs and its fine now. I start back to Bodypump this week so that'll help with that. The chafing is ok too :P

  2. Sounds like one heck of a race. I always expect the unexpected when racing a hilly course. You never know how your body is going to respond. It sounds like you had a good experience, despite the hills, soaked feet, and road conditions. It's a good thing you did the camping and hiking AFTER the race!

    1. Yes sometimes I can power over hills and other times they just don't agree with me. I sound like such a complainer ha ha, but it was fun.
      I like hiking after it gets the blood flowing again :)