Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Andrew Jackson Marathon

When I was looking at what I wanted to do for the spring, this marathon popped up on my radar. I had seen previous posts in past years about locals I knew running this race, but this year they had done a major overhaul on it and revamped the course and the events surrounding it.  I was intrigued because it seemed like a small race, and I am a sucker for small races.  Yes, it had loops, but two loops of 13.1 miles each and all through my home town of Jackson TN.

I decided to make a long trip out of the festivities and you can see how the week unfolded in my weekly recap.  I had originally planned on coming down on a Wednesday, and then going back the next Wednesday to kind of straddle the race, but Andrew's kindergarten school at the last minute scheduled a meeting for the parents Monday after the race that we needed to be at, including little man. 

 We had packet pick up starting on Thursday at noon, and I was one of the first in line. I was pretty excited about the super cute shirt!  It is hooded and made of the SOFTEST material EVER!  I resisted putting it on for bad luck!  Packet pick up was at the new to me shoe store in town Performance Running. 

 We also had a pasta feed at the LIFT which is the gym where my mom works out lives. The pasta dinner was really good and they had a speaker, who also sponsored the pasta feed who kept us entertained. 

Of course Andrew fell asleep on the way to the pasta feed.

But then woke up and had his happy meal while the speaker spoke.

He talked about guiding a blind runner at the NYC marathon.  The story gave me chills!  I think we need a speaker for our next Wicked marathon/half pasta feed!  Maybe I could do a comedy routine about some of my races :)

After the pasta dinner, I laid out flat michelle. It was suppose to be pretty cold at the start and hot at the end, so dressing myself proved to be challenging. I knew I was wearing shorts no matter what, but the top half was still up in the air.  I decided it might be warmer to go with a technical T and arm warmers, versus a tank and arm warmers.  I tried to get in bed relatively early, but my kiddo had other plans.  At least it was before 11 by the time we got him to go to sleep. 

We got up at 5 am and I did my normal routine of coffee and belvitas.  We headed down to the start line at 6 am.  It was a small field of runners and even smaller for the full.  There were a few porta potties and that was it, but it didn't seem to be a problem.  I had gone before I left the house, but I like to go one more time before the race if you know what I mean. 

So this is the power of social media.  I went to school with Vinnie and Jake all through high school (they were twins).  We were friends but not close, as we ran in different social circles.  I found him on FB a while back and we connected and I noticed he was a RUNNER!  I am pretty sure he thought I was crazy, as I kept commenting or liking or even loving his running pictures :)  We found out we were both running the same race, so we made sure we saw each other before the race started.  He is super speedy, so he probably could have lapped me! 

Like I said before, the race is super small, so no pacers.  I got where I thought I might be okay and told myself stick to the plan.  I had discussed a plan with my coach of doing 11 minute miles for the first half and then letting the hammer down for the second half if I so felt like it.  Well, honestly, I couldn't get in the groove.  One minute I would be in the 9s and the next minute I would be in the low to mid 10s.  I couldn't get my pace down at all.  I finally found a guy who was running his first half, and I liked his pace and we talked (we were both UTM graduates!), which helped me slow down and be steady.  I ran all the hills the first time around and did not stop at any water stops, since I had my water + nuun.  Let me tell you about this course.  Hilly was an understatement.  I think it would be a KICK ASS half course for sure.  Just enough challenge to make you dig deep to push.  My first half according to the clock when I passed was 2:12, but on the print out, it says 2:25.  Weird.  Anyway, I don't feel like I hit a wall, I just couldn't conquer the course.  I kept seeing lower and lower numbers on my watch and rather than fret about it or let it get me down, I just kept going.  I actually ended up running with two ladies that were struggling as well.  We kept talking about how finding each other was a godsend.  We walked when we had to, ran when we could, and finished with a big smile on our faces. 

To my surprise, I won third in my age group, but was too slow to make the actual awards ceremony LOL!

The after party was pretty much over by the time I got done. I am kind of disappointed as the finish line photographer had left, and my friends I finished with got no first time finish line photos.  The awards ceremony was finishing when I was crossing the line,, so no podium for me.  The beer tent and food vendors were packing up, not that I wanted any food, but others probably did.  The race had a 6.5 hour time limit, and I finished in 5:15.  There was NO reason why everyone needed to already pack up.  There were several runners behind me, as I finished 47 out of 65.  The good news, the bouncy house stayed up for a while after I finished, so little red could bounce while I recovered.  My stepdad found me a cold dr. pepper, which was the only thing that sounded good.  I was able to hobble to the car and my in laws took Andrew, so I could recover with my mom and step dad. 

Overall, a very well put together race.  If you want big crowd support, this is not your race, but if you want great volunteers, awesome water stops, a yummy pasta feed, and a very challenging course, this is your race.  Mentally, loop courses are tough and this one got to me.  I knew the hills that were up ahead and it defeated me.  I was able to run all the hills the first time, but the second time, nope.  These aren't monster hills, more gradual and forever, a lot like hospital hill, but a full.  I would do it as a half again in a heart beat, but as a full, one and done.  I will say it was SO much fun to run past so many memories like my old house I grew up in, several of my friend's old houses, my old church (which is just a lot now), and several of my friend's churches that I visited.  It really brought back lots of great memories!  I sure love and miss my hometown and thoroughly enjoyed running through it!

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