A friend of mine lives near Jackson Mississippi and after plans fell through to run the 1/2 marathon out there 2 years ago, this year we finally managed the trip. Driving just under 800 miles one way was actually a lot of fun. It helped that my husband and I get a long and we listened to the book “The Hunger Games”.
I did not know what to expect course wise, and was a little taken aback when a coworker said, “You know, it’s pretty hilly out there!” two days before we were leaving. With that said, I mentally prepped for a pretty slow race. I should mention that I have been doing heart rate training and intended to run the 1/2 at 75% of my heart rate, which would put me at or around a 2:30 finish. Eventually the goal with the training is to be able to run a half marathon at 85% of my heart rate. Now knowing that is was a hilly course, I resigned myself to coming in around 2:45. I was fine with that.
The weather on race day was almost perfect. 53 degrees at 7am was almost a little too warm, but a nice breeze was flowing, cooling the air a bit more. The field was only 2500 people strong (with about 800 of them running the full), letting me cross the starting line only about a minute and a half after the gun went off.
The first hill was not far off, and it seemed that the course either went up or down, even though I think there were occasional straight stretches. It took us past businesses, through residental neighborhoods, and along the freeway. I believe we also passed at least 2 schools along the way. Around mile 7 the pavement got really bad with pot holes and bad patch jobs, but a sign prior to that warned us of the upcoming trouble.
My heart rate after the first few hills stayed pretty steady at 80%. I tried to slow it down the first three miles but then decided because of the hills that I would go by feeling and keep it under 80%, but not fret it if I went over 75%.
I was looking for my husband and my two friends at mile 8, but didn’t see them until about 8.5. That was nice and broke up the run. Usually the monotony of it all hits me between mile 7 and 9, so it was great to look forward to them.
I think around mile 9, we joined back up with the marathon course. At mile 11 the first two marathoners passed me; they were at mile 24 on their journey. Must be a lot of work to be able to run that fast!
The finish line was uphill! But I managed to kick it into gear the last hill and finished in 2:31:08! Not bad for such an up and down course and feeling as strong as I did. Not one time during the race did I feel like walking or even quitting. In all my previous races I seemed to have struggled at one point or another; this 1/2 marathon just seemed to have flown by.
I am still training for the Cap City Half marathon in May, which is held in Columbus, Ohio. That one I plan to race and not just run. My half marathon PR currently is 2:17, I am hoping to break that…fingers crossed!