Midsouth Championship Half Marathon Recap

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This was the second of three races that I ran over the first weekend of November.  This was the first time that I have run in this event, which was my third half marathon since September 1, and second in thirteen days.  This also marks my third state to run a half marathon both all time and since September 1.  It is amazing to think that I have been able to do this.  Even more unbelievable is the fact that the last half marathons that I have run have been my fastest two!  And to be honest, I did not know what to expect from this small town half marathon, but I must say that I was pleasantly surprised.

The race is held at Wynne High School in Wynne, AR, which is about an hour from Memphis, which is one of the reasons that I signed up for the race.  I would not have to get a hotel room and I could just wake up early and travel to the race.  Also, the registration fee was only $27, which is by far the cheapest half marathon registration that I will ever find.  I have run 5K’s that have charged more than this!

Heading towards the finish

Heading towards the finish

I woke up and headed out to the race at 6:00 am.  I wanted to get to the event early since I was not able to go to the early packet pickup on Friday afternoon.  As I headed out, I pulled up the directions and realized that the race was a little further away than I expected, so my anxiety accelerated a little bit.  And my anxiety did not subside when several notices about road construction were posted on I-40.  Luckily, traffic was not bad this early in the morning, and I was actually able to make great time on my way to the race.

Much like the 4 Bridges event, this one race was quite cold with the temperature at 45 degrees when I got out of the truck.  At least I had a hoodie this time and was much better suited to battle the cold.  The line for the packet pickup was not too bad, and waiting until the hour before the race was not a detriment to my race.  A bonus to having the event at the local high school and the fact that the race was not huge was that participants could use the schools bathrooms with little to no lines.  Yep, a half marathon with indoor bathrooms and small lines!  There were also several port a potties, but most of us did not need visit these since we had the indoor options.

Someone was happy to see me!

Someone was happy to see me!

This was supposed to be my first half marathon without Susan.  At the St. Jude Half Marathons, she can drive around the course with her dad, a retired cop, to see me at various points.  Our hotel for the Tupelo 14.2 had a shuttle, so Susan did not have to leave with me at 4:00 am.  At 4 Bridges she had the ability to stay at her sister’s apartment near the finish line until I was close.  With this event, there was no such luxury, so I was prepared to run it alone.  However, as I was approaching the finish line, I saw Susan with our dog Beau!  It was a great to see them and completely unexpected.  She apparently was sad that she was not going to be there with me so she decided to head over to the race.  It was definitely a welcomed site.

I did not know how well I was going to run the event provided that I had run a race the night before, but I did not have any issues during my run.  I started strong, and a little faster than ideal, but I was able to get it under control before it detracted from my entire race.  After about five miles, I knew that I had a shot at my second straight PR, but I was not going to get ahead of myself.  I was simply going to run the best race that I possibly could.  I ended up with my second fastest race ever, which is not too shabby.  In fact, my last mile was my fastest of the entire race!  I was able to run mile thirteen at a pace of 8:55, which was my sixth sub 10:00 mile!  Miles eight, ten, and eleven were my weakest, but the were in the 10:00 range.

Midsouth Championship swag

Midsouth Championship swag

Swag: B+: All participants got a long-sleeved t-shirt that was very soft, some coupons, a shaving cream sample, and a medal that was a vast improvement over last year’s race according to a Google image search.  I was very happy with this year’s medal, a very colorful metal medal with some trees cut out of it.  From some of my conversations with race volunteers, they really hoped us runners could enjoy the trees changing colors along the course.  This was the inspiration behind their run.  There were aid stations at every mile with water and Gatorade, and on the way back, the stations also had bananas, orange slices, and pretzel sticks.  The post race meal was BBQ and ribs with all of the trimmings, but it was to be served at 11:00 am, and I did not want Susan and Beau to wait that long.  Too bad because it smelled outstanding.

Midsouth Championship Medal

Midsouth Championship Medal

Course: B+: It was on out and back course, starting by the high school, following some country roads, and finishing on the football field.  For University of Memphis fans, this was the football field that DeAngelo Williams played on in high school before breaking NCAA records at Memphis. The only downside was the cumulative mile along US 64 where we had to run on the should of the road as semis came down the highway.  This was a tight squeeze for runners going both ways, but no one had an issue with it to my knowledge.  And when we crossed the highway, there were cops directly traffic to help protect the runners.

Post race w/ my Beau

Post race w/ my Beau

Overall: A-: This was a well-organized event with some of the friendless volunteers that I have ever encountered.  The event was an insane value for $27 and well worth the trip over the river.  I would certainly be open to running this event again in the future.  This entire event reminded me of my rural West Tennessee hometown and that was a good thing.  Also, it does not hurt that this was my second fastest half marathon ever with an official finish time of 2:12:45!  So in the last thirteen days I have bested my previous best time by four plus minutes twice!  Is it the shoes?  This is a throw back to NBA Jam.

Rocking rash? This does not sound appetizing!

Rocking rash? This does not sound appetizing!

On the way home, we stopped at Tropical Smoothie Cafe for a quick bite to eat and a smoothie.  This trip only warrants a mention because of what was written on Susan’s smoothie.  She ordered a Rocking Raspberry, which was abbreviated to read Rocking Rash, or at least it looks like that to me!

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50 Half Marathons in 50 States

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Currently running a half marathon in all 50 states is not one of my running goals.  It would be outstanding, and a great way to see the entire country, but it is a significant commitment both financially and in time.  But, just for fun, I thought I would try to list out the fifty races that I would like to run in each state as of today.  This is based on locations I would like to visit, themes of the races, and time of year.  Currently, I have notched one of fifty states, with a second state slated for September, so if I ever decide to do this, it will take some time and dedication.  Some of these race choices were quite arbitrary, but I could not stand leaving a state blank.  Maybe this post will serve as motivation to make it happen.

Alabama: Mercedes-Benz Half – Birmingham, February – great medal, easy trip

Alaska: Mayor’s Half – Anchorage, Saturday closest to Summer Solstice – very cool idea

Arizona: Rock ‘n Roll Marathon Series – Phoenix – January – not many options, chosen because of city

Arkansas: Little Rock Half – Little Rock, March or The Hogeye Half – Fayetteville – April – easy state to complete

California: Big Sur Half -Carmel – Mid-November and/or Disneyland Half – Anaheim – August/September (complete Coast to Coast with WDW Half) – Big Sur simply for locale & medal, Disney in attempt to complete Coast to Coast

Colorado: Rock ‘n Roll Marathon Series – Denver – October – not many options, chosen because of city

Connecticut: ING Hartford Marathon – Hartford – October – not many options, chosen because of city

Delaware: Monster “Mash” Half – Dover – October – Why not?

Florida: WDW Marathon – Lake Buena Vista – Jan 12, 2014 and Key West Half – Key West – January – both on my “must run” list

Georgia: Publix Georgia Half – Atlanta – March – best half in Atlanta

Hawaii: The Hapualua, Hawaii’s Half Marathon – Waikiki Beach – March – any race in Hawaii would be perfect

Idaho: City of Trees Half – Boise – October – not many options, chosen because of city

Illinois: Rock ‘n Roll Marathon Series – Chicago – July – multiple options for Chicago, this is most convenient

Indiana: Dances With Dirt Half – Gnaw Bone – May – trail half, completely different from the rest of the list

Iowa: IMT Des Moines Half – Des Moines – October – not many options, chosen because of city

Kansas: Kansas City Half – Kansas City – October – fast course, good BBQ

Kentucky: Hatfield & McCoy Half – Goody (counts for KY & WV if run twice) – June – very cool idea

Louisiana: Rock ‘n Roll Marathon Series – New Orleans – February – any excuse to go to NOLA

Maine: Maine Half – Portland – October – not many options, chosen because of city

Maryland: Baltimore Running Festival – Baltimore – October – not many options, chosen because of city

Massachusetts: Boston Athletic Association Half – Boston – October – may never qualify for the Boston Marathon, so this is the next best thing

Michigan: Martian Invasion of the Races – Dearborn Heights -April – unique idea

Minnesota: Polar Dash – Minneapolis – January 1 – cool idea, part of a series

Mississippi: Tupelo 14.2 – Tupelo – Sept 1, 2013 – should be state #2

Missouri: Rock ‘n Roll Marathon Series – St. Louis – October – easy trip

Montana: Montana Half – Billings – September – not many options, chosen because of city

Nebraska: Omaha Half Marathon – Omaha – September – not many options, chosen because of city

Nevada: Rock ‘n Roll Marathon Series – Las Vegas – November – Vegas, no further explanation needed

New Hampshire: New Hampshire Half Marathon – Bristol – October – not many options. Update: Smuttynose Rockfest Half – Hampton Beach – October – free lobster roll, clam chowder, & beer on a flat, coastal course (thanks to seneslant for to recommendation)

New Jersey: Superhero Half – Morristown – May – because I am a nerd

New Mexico: Santa Fe to Buffalo Thunder Half Marathon – Santa Fe – Sep – Very scenic with the last 11+ miles being all downhill!

New York: NYC Half – New York City (Manhattan) – March, the Brooklyn or Manhattan Half are also options – I want to run any and all the half marathons in NYC

North Carolina: OBX Half Marathon – Outer Banks – November – great locale

North Dakota: Fargo Half – Fargo – May (actually runs into MN and back) – not many options, chosen because of city

Ohio: Flying Pig Half – Cincinnati – May – cool theme, good medal

Oklahoma: Route 66 Half – Tulsa – November – great medal

Oregon: Rock ‘n Roll Marathon Series – Portland – May – not many options, chosen because of city

Pennsylvania: Philadelphia Half – Philadelphia – November – a bridesmaid lives here, really want to visit Philly; the Rock ‘n Roll Half events in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are tempting as well

Rhode Island: Rock ‘n Roll Marathon Series – Providence – September – not many options, chosen because of city

South Carolina: Myrtle Beach Mini Marathon – Myrtle Beach – October – location, primarily

South Dakota: Run Crazy Horse -Rapid City – October – different medal, not many options

Tennessee: I have run the St. Jude Half twice & I am scheduled to run the 4 Bridges Half in Chattanooga & St. Jude again, so Tennessee is covered, but a new race would be the Oak Barrel Half – Lynchburg – April

Texas: Livestrong Austin Half – Austin – February – great cause (even if Lance was a fraud) & several options in Texas

Utah: Dino Half – Vernal – May – dinosaurs are (were) the best, childhood nerd alert

Vermont: RunVermont Half Unplugged – Burlington – April – not many options, but this one seemed to be the best option

Virginia: Marine Corps Historic Half (if you can’t do the full)- Frederickburg (Half), Arlington (Full) – May (Half), October (Full), Yuengling Shamrock Half – Virginia Beach – March – I couldn’t decide between the two of these.

Washington: Rock ‘n Roll Marathon Series – Seattle – June – an excuse to visit Seattle

West Virginia: Morgantown Half – Morgantown – October – run the race, catch a game, burn a couch

Wisconsin: Brewers Mini Marathon – Milwaukee – September – merging baseball & running

Wyoming: Jackson Hole Half – Jackson Hole – September – not many options, chosen because of city

Update: I did not include the District of Columbia in my original post, but since I have decided that Washington, DC should be included as well.  So, here it goes.

Washington, DC: Rock ‘N Roll Marathon Series – Washington, DC, March, limited options, but the course will be good.