Gearing Up – Marathon’s Comin

2 mile warm up
1 mile cool down
4 x 1 Mile intervals (6:46, 7:00, 6:29, 6:35) 0.25 mile recovery

15 weeks until the Mississippi Blues Marathon on January 11th, 2014 in Jackson, MS. I get excited about running this race every year, at least I have since I ran the inaugural “Blues” in 2008. It was the first Blues and my first marathon at age 41. It was a great day. It was a cold morning and I was milling around the start in a tiny little upscale mall in “the Fondren” part of Jackson, just trying to stay warm. I struck up a conversation with some people that had traveled from Ohio for the race, which I found astounding. I had already seen someone climbing out of the back of their pick truck camper shell where they obviously had spent the night. These people were really in to marathoning.

I’d been training gradually following the Runners World plan and felt like I could manage a 4:00 finish. Six months earlier I had run my first 5K at The 2007 Watermelon Classic in Jackson in 24:30 and it was there or not long after that I heard about the Blues marathon. I knew immediately that I wanted to run it. I met another guy who had recently gotten back in to running and we started getting some long runs in together as we got closer to the January 2008 race. I had conquered IT Band Syndrom along the way and was feeling good.

Back at the start of the marathon, I saw people wearing trash bags for the first time. This is a trick to stay warm until you start running and get warmed up. Then you can shed the trash bag. Me, I was just shivering in my t-shirt and hoping we were going to start on time before I got hypothermia. The Ohio folks were wearing trash bags and they had come all the way to Mississippi for a marathon, so I assumed they were experience runners. Turns out I was right and one of them was planning on running a 4:00 race. He offered to pace me and I was fine with that.

There are a few things that stand out from that race. One guy ran it in a pink tutu and he was FAST too. A woman passed me going up hill at about mile 17 and SHE WAS PUSHING A KID IN A STROLLER! I was devastated but I found out later she’s in her 20’s, former track star and track coach at a local college so that made it better. My pacer fell back at about mile 16 and I was on my own from there on. Coming up that last hill in to the Fondren and coming under the finish banner in 3:57. It had warmed up but it was not too hot and I enjoyed hanging out after the race for a little while.

In 2009 I came back and again in 2010, both times struggling through IT Band Syndrome  during the race. Lot’s of walking and grimacing involved. I was in better shape both those years but the pain took it’s toll on my time. I figured out the IT Band issues and PR’ed in 2011 at 3:42. Heat in 2012 slowed me to 3:47. Then in 2013 I cut 6 minutes off my PR at 3:36.

So here I am having run all of the six previous Mississippi Blues Marathons. Since running the first one, I became friends with one of the founders and he has told me there are only about 12 people that have run them all. The pressure is on, but it’s a fun kind of pressure. I am starting my training this time with a bigger base of miles than ever and just better conditioning. I ran a 30 mile trail race in July and my long runs have hit 14 and 16 in recent weeks. I should get a 20 mile and a couple of 22’s in before the race. I’m excited about the possibilities.

My goal is PR. My stretch goal is sub 3:30. BQ for a 48 year old is 3:25 which would be the ultimate perfect day scenario. Love Me Some Blues.