Friday, November 11, 2011

MidSouth Championship Marathon - DONE!

This year's race was not near as cold as last year's. Last year we started off with 29 degree weather. This year, we were a little closer to 40 degrees. We had 11 Muckas running in this year's event. Five running the full and 6 running the half. Some running new distances for the first time. There were 191 running the full and 228 running the half. This event continues to grow, year after year. Heck, you can't beat the price. And the small town, friendly atmosphere makes for a great experience.

As we all met at the starting line, we had the opening prayer given by William Zahler, from Panama City, FL. This was a blessing as this gentleman had run the full marathon in 2009. As he came across the finish line, he collapsed, suffering a heart attack. Medical staff quickly rendered aid and rushed him to the hospital where he recovered from his heart attack. While at the hospital, the MidSouth race committee presented him with his trophy. Two years later, Mr. Zahler returned to run the half, and thank those that saved his life. Amazing!

Once the starter's pistol went off, 419 runners took off down Lemons toward Hamilton. Not even a half mile into it and people started stripping their clothes off. One man tossed his shirt off to the side of the road and continued on his speedy pace wearing nothing but his gloves, American flag shorts (Short-shorts) and his running shoes. Every now and then his tan line would peek out from the top of his shorts. LOL! As we cruised up the slight incline of Hamilton, we were greeted by many supportes along the way. At the corner of Hamilton and Killough, the elderly lady, who lives there, was out in full force with all her support signs! She's there every year.

Rounding the corner and heading up 64B, we fastly approached our first real hill. Brandon, James, Jerry and Jody were up ahead. Holly, Kevin and I made our way up the hill. I think running in a pack, with the adrenaline of the race pushing you, helped us blow right through the hill. Further down 64B, we started running into some thick fog. That was pretty cool, looks and temperature wise. Kevin was still hanging with Holly and I. Now, this was Kevin's first full marathon. His training was not consistent so, he was worried about completing this race. He stayed with us through the first 10 miles. Then the hills started taking their toll on him. His pace slowed but, he was never too far behind. We saw the first full marathoner coming back as we approached mile 11. Then, just before mile 12, a larger group of full marathoners were coming back. None of them looking winded at all. Oh, to be that young and in shape again. LOL!

As we came upon the turn-around point, we saw Jerry walking in the other direction. This was his first full marathon as well. He went out strong but, something was wrong at this point. As we ran back past him, I asked him if he was ok. He said, "No." and he was going to talk to medical at mile 14. Holly and I pushed on. We saw Kevin and Tim running towards the turn around point, looking strong. At mile 16, I started to pull away from Holly. We were hitting the aid stations every mile now, as the temps were warming up. Running to each station and walking through each one. There was an older gentleman running ahead of me. I decided I would keep up with him. We spoke briefly while we were running. He told me he had a goal to be under 4-hours. At the pace were running, and where we were at on the course, I told him he shouldn't have any problem doing that.

Once I made it back onto 64B, I was feeling confident of finishing under 4-hours. The only issue I was having was some pain in my right foot, right above my arch, leading up into my ankle. This is the same ankle I hurt in Jonesboro. But, I pushed on. About 3 hrs and 33 mins into the race, my Garmin watch decided to shut off on me. This was at mile 24.15. Not knowing what my time was anymore, I tried to push harder. Coming down the last large hill on 64B, onto Killough, my right calf cramped up! Talk about bad timing. Walked for a few seconds, then took off again down Hamilton. Making my approach to the football stadium, the announcer called out my name and got me pumped up. Once in the stadium, rounding the track, I could see I was at 3 hrs and 53 mins. My current PR was 3:53:39. I crossed the finish line at 3:53:26!!!!! Deb was waiting there for me and gave me a huge kiss for my reward. :)

We had four Muckas place in the top 3 in their age groups. Everyone completed their race with a new PR as well. Jerry found out his problem was an allergic reaction to something in the air and is doing well now. Kevin completed his first marathon and is motivated to run another one. Holly PR'd and is wanting to break 4-hours now. Great job all around. Next up, St Jude!!

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