One Down

Jeff and Willow

Jeff and Willow the pony outside a home in Mississippi. Our Swedish friend, Anders, is in the background wondering what the heck is going on.

What an adventure already. It was a success for day one, but we already knew we could do one marathon, the real success will be determined with marathon number two tomorrow.

As I mentioned yesterday, our accommodations were amazing and being 100 yards from the start/finish line is tops. We were in our room until 15 minutes before the race, we had our own bathroom, and we were able to get around at a reasonable time and at our own pace. We were also able to go and shower and get cleaned up right away after the race; also a huge luxury.

We had a good weather day, 60’s, no rain. It got a little windy later in the race and a bit warm and sunny for Jeff and Julie towards the end. But overall, it was good conditions for a marathon.

The course was tougher than expected with rolling hills throughout, somewhat rough roads (pot holes and slanted surfaces), and some wind and hills late in the race. However, the volunteers really helped make up for this with their positive encouragement and well planned aid on the course. They were often found thanking the runners as we ran by for coming to their city and running their race. It was a unique approach and it made me glad to be there hearing their appreciation.

And on to our individual races. I felt somewhat obligated to run competitively due to the elite hookup we got from the race director. As a result, I went out at a comfortable but focused pace. I found myself with the lead women, one from Morocco and one from Kenya early. We dropped the Kenyan woman and I stayed close with the eventual female winner from Morocco for nearly 14 miles. It was only her and I from mile 3 on until I reeled in some fading Kenyans later in the race after being dropped by the Moroccan.

I ran 2:48.29 and ran evenly with a 1:23.58 for the first half and 1:24.31 for the second. I kept it under control and felt pretty good the entire way. I had one rough mile (6:50) at 24 with some tough hills and a strange cramp under my right ribcage. But then we crested the hill and I began closing on Jonah Tanui and then Hilary Kogo. They were both further up in the race early and came back as the race went on. They’re really cool guys and I was glad to see them after being alone for so long.

The race was fun and we were treated so well.

Jeff pushed himself well and finished 87thoverall with a time of 3:42.01 and Julie came through with a 3:49.32 in 120thplace overall. They were both looking pretty exhausted coming in but after a shower and a change of clothes, were moving around well too. We all commiserated about the hills and challenging course for awhile and then got ready to move on to Mobile for the next race expo.

Before we left though, we ran into a Swedish guy named Anders that writes for Runner’s World Europe and is traveling all over the US running marathons and riding a bike all around. He too is doing the back to back marathons this weekend and after hearing about us, found us and joined our crew for the trip to Mobile.

So the adventure continues and it’s expanded with the addition of Anders. We all took ice bathes tonight, had a good pasta dinner, and have been putting down the ibuprophren. Tomorrow is an early day with us taking off for Mobile at 5:30 am. We’ll have plenty more to update but for now are ready to get to bed. But suffice it to say that much has happened so far, including meeting the miniature horse named Willow this afternoon. But that will have to wait. For now, we can only hope for as successful of a day tomorrow as we experienced today. Onwards!

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