Thursday, January 17, 2013

Race Report: Mississippi Blues Half Marathon

I think the absolute best part of the Mississippi Blues Marathon and Half Marathon is the Blues version of the Star Spangled Banner. Every year, it sends shivers up my spine.

Okay. This year, the shivers may have been due in part to the rather cool start to the morning. While most people were raving that the cloudy skies and temps in the mid 40s were absolutely perfect for racing, I was shivering and wondering if I should have put on more clothes. Since living in MS, I seem to have lost all tolerance for cold. And I define anything below 70 degrees Fahrenheit as cold. Yeah. Pathetic.

I did, however, manage to do the Hundred Up while waiting in the porta-potty line. (Want an easy technique to improve running form? Check it out.) Then, did an easy 7-minute run with a few rather weak striders. That was my warmup, and I felt fairly ready to go. Until the start was slightly delayed, and I got cold all over again. Yeesh.

The gun went off, and we were finally underway. 

Of late, my training has been consistent. No worries on the distance. It's also been consistently at a zone 1 or slower pace. Meaning, I have had to keep my heart rate fairly low, which has translated to a pace a bit slower than I am used to. And, definitely, a pace significantly slower than half marathon race pace. No speedwork either. So, it was hard to decide what pace I might be able to go and what my heart rate might do now that it had been given permission to soar.

Soar, it did. Way, way above zone 1, that's for sure. But I started conservatively, easing into a pace that felt comfortable, but not too slow. I decided to follow my standard half marathon 5-5-5 plan: settle into a moderate pace for the first 5 miles, pick that up to moderately hard for the next 5 miles, and then crank it up as much as possible for the final 5k. I also gave myself permission to abandon that plan should I not be feeling the half-marathon running love.

It was love at first step. Much like last year, I felt great from beginning to end in this race. It's a tough, tough course with several small, steep hills and a few longer more gradual inclines (including the last mile to the that a requirement of race course planners?) that, along with some rough roads, can leave me feeling a bit beat up. Not last year...and not this year. The effort level felt easy (relatively speaking), I was enjoying myself (relatively speaking), chatted with a few friends (that I passed...hah!), and ended up finishing just a few seconds over 2 hours. Five minutes slower than last year, but with my conservative approach and lack of speedwork, I was extremely pleased, and my plan worked out perfectly:

  • First 5 (+.17...a bit off the mile marker) miles: 48:49; 9:26/mile (average HR 145)
  • Second 5 miles: 44:31; 8:54/mile (average HR 160)
  • Final 5k: 27:01; 8:48/mile (average HR 164)

The funny thing is last year, I ran each of the first and second 5 miles 2 minutes faster and the last 5k 1 minute faster. If nothing else, I am consistent.

The other best thing about the MS Blues Marathon and Half Marathon is the finishers' medals. The first year, they were unremarkable, and the half marathon medal was sort of a sad little half guitar. I didn't do the next year's race, but have run each year since, and each year, the medals have been among the best and biggest of all my gazillion finishers' medals. This year was no exception. 

Very cool.

Because this is a local race, so many friends run both the half and the marathon. I hung out for a little bit to cheer others in, but my skinny butt couldn't take the cold anymore, the rain was headed in, and I wimped out and headed home to warm up. I did stay long enough, though, to yell loudly for one of the ladies in my marathon training group as she finished her first 13.1 mile-race in her whole life. 

It was awesome. 

An excellent way to end the first race of the season.

('s been far too long between posts. I have a lot to write about this year. My typing fingers seem to be working again. I have so many things I would like to write about: racing [like this post], training, new life adventures, a healing heart, travel, cooking, photography, horses, on and on. So, I promise you [all 6 of you] that I will become a much more regular and consistent blogger with loads of interesting things to read [at least, they will be interesting to me].)


  1. Sounds like you enjoyed this race as much as I did. It was awesome, indeed! Great post...keep 'em coming :-)


  2. nicely run and well reported. thanks Karen