The FlyingDuck and I started our journey to Mississippi around 6 AM. The drive went well and we enjoyed conversing and taking in a few episodes of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia".
Our first stop in Jackson was at our hotel. Scott booked us a room very close to the start at the Hilton Garden Inn. From our hotel we were able to walk to the Packet Pickup and Expo. We enjoyed checking out the vendors. Scott picked up some new Zensah calf sleeves and I managed to get out of the expo without spending any money.
Prior to eating dinner I went out for a little shake out run (I was hoping to find a place to purchase an energy drink and a Snickers for my marathon morning breakfast). The shake out run was a total blast. The run gave me an opportunity to tour downtown Jackson and to get some great pictures. I also successfully found my breakfast for a reasonable price at a local gas station.
For dinner we had decided to eat the meal that was being offered at the hotel. While waiting for a bit to be seated we decided to explore other dinning options. We did not find any options that appeared better so we ended up back at the hotel restaurant. The dinner was actually very good (regardless of the service being very slow).
Saturday 1.7.2012: Marathon Day
After a excellent night of sleep I woke up pretty excited to go after another marathon completion. Scott and I attempted to make it to the Marathon Maniac group picture. We had heard that it was going to be 30 minutes before the start of the marathon at the Capital building. Apparently an old Capital building exists and that is where the picture took place, i.e, we missed it.
The marathon, half-marathon, and relay started at 7 AM. I started somewhat near the front of the crowd of runners. I was not overly concerned about getting blocked in. I was committed to running this marathon very smart. I wanted another sub-4-hour State and I believed that if I did not run smart the wheels would come off and I would not make it in under 4. My strategy for this marathon involved a repetitive cycle of 27 minutes of running and 3 minutes of walking. I planned to keep the running pace on the gentle side and avoid getting my heart rate up very high. I also decided to keep my mile splits off the mile markers to further assist with my pacing.
I was pleased to glide through the first mile marker with a mile time of 9m:07.87s. I kept a relaxed pace for the next 2 miles. I was not liking the way the road slanted and therefore I tried to stay as close to the middle of the road as possible. Mile 2: 8m:29.68s. Mile 3: 8m:30.53s. At the mile 3 marker the half-marathoners went their separate way. I prefer a marathon that is only a marathon, so I am always happy to say goodbye the half-marathon runners. My first walk-segment seemed to land in a good place. I tried to make sure it was as rejuvenating as possible. During this walk segment I turned on some tunes (I opted for the Beastie Boys album: "Licensed to Ill"). I noticed that somehow I had messed up my Nike+ GPS app as it was acting as a stopwatch but i was not tracking my distance. I decided I would try and reboot it during my next walk-segment.
During the next three miles I took note of the non-stop hills on the course. My strategy on the hills was to glide up them if they landed during my 27 minutes of running. I was open to walking if the grade got extreme. Mile 4: 10m:01.28s. Mile 5: 8m:30.94s. Mile 6: 8m:28.24s.
During my second walk-segment I stopped my Nike+ GPS app, adjusted the settings, and started it back up. Soon after I heard the cheers from some Facebook friends and I was glad that I took the time to straighten it out. Mile 7: 10m:01.80s. Mile 8: 8m:20.46s. Mile 9: 8m:22.79s. Mile10: 8m:25.96s. After 10 miles I started to take note that I was passing a few runners that clearly had run the first few miles at an unrealistic pace. I also noticed that it was very sunny out there. Thankfully I was not feeling overly warm. At every aid station I was throwing water on my head and back and it seemed to be keeping me from feeling overly warm.
The next 4 miles took us through a very gorgeous neighborhood.
During my 3 walk-segment I turned my tunes back on. Mile 11: 9m:44.00s. Mile 12: 8m:25.54s. Just prior to the mile 13 marker I got a cold stare from another runner who did not seem to appreciate my running mix. I tried to inform her that the song that was playing ("'Till I Collapse" by Eminem) had great lyrics for an endurance event. She was not apparently convinced. Mile13: 8m:17.65s [my fastest mile of the day].
For my half-marathon split I had resolved to take a picture of my watch so I could avoid messing up my mile splits on my Timex. I got the perfect shot of my watch with the 13.1 mile maker in the background.
During the next walk-segment I shared it with my Facebook friends. I was very pleased with my half-marathon split. Early in the week I had decided to try and put myself in position for a negative split (running the second half of a race faster than the first half). I had also invited Scott to share this goal with me and just before the start of the marathon I mentioned a Wendy's Frosty for the runner with the widest margin. Half-marathon split: 1h:55m:44s (8m:50s mile-pace).
For the next few miles I had this thought in my mind: 20 mile warmup and then a 10K race. I wanted to stay as conservative as possible and I hoped that I would feel fresh coming into the final 10K of the course. One of my walk-segments landed very advantageously in the midst of a very substantial climb. Mile 14: 10m:06.09s. Mile 15: 8m:19.96s. Mile 16: 8m:19.58s. Mile 17: 9m:32.22s. Mile 18: 8m:44.71s. Mile 19: 8m:41.45s. Mile 20: 8m:21.62s.
Just into the 21st mile my watch prompted me for a 3 minute walk-segment. I was not committed to abandoning my walk-segments but I was open to it. I opted to employ the walk optimistically thinking that it might possibly be my last one for the day. Mile 21: 10m:33.58s [my slowest mile of the day]. The 22nd mile was primarily downhill and I was thankful for that. I decided during that mile that a I was done with my 27 and 3 approach and would finish the rest of the course via walking the uphills. Mile 22: 8m:59.62s.
During the 23rd mile I started to feel a bit fatigued. My main goal for the day was to get in under 4 hours, and felt pretty confident that I was going to see that happen. Mile 23: 9m:30.31s. Mile 24: 10m:26.95s. Mile 25: 9m:51.23s. Mile 26: 10m:00.65s.
The last half mile was primarily uphill. I walked it and mixed in a few up tempo run segments. The final .2: 1m:42.05s.
As I approached the finish I decided I would attempt to jump up and do a 360 rotation in the air over the finish line. I video taped my finish and it is great to hear one of the volunteers at the finish say: "thats what I am talking about!"
Finishing time: 3h:57m:52s (9m:05s per-mile)
Overall: 163/741 starters
Male 40-44: 23/72 finishers
Marathon/Ultra-Marathon event completions: 24
Marathon event completions: 20
Ultra-Marathon event completions: 4
Marathon US States: 18
Ultra-Marathon US States: 4
Marathon/Ultra-Marathon US States: 19
Marathon & Ultra-Marathon US States: 3
Sub-4-hour Marathon US States: 15
I was very pleased with how this marathon went. I felt like I ran smart, and I was super excited to get another sub-4-hour State. I was pleased with how the repetitive cycle of 27 minutes of running and 3 minutes of walking went. I felt like it helped me keep my heart rate in a range more conducive to avoiding fatigue.