Thursday, December 31, 2009

Running the ONEderful Mississippi Gulf Coast

Okay, I admit occasionally having envied Karen’s plaques and mementoes for those races where she has actually placed in her age group or a category. And despite the pride factor, I don’t really remember (of course, I have failings there now, too) using the “I” word (for injustice) or coveting them. I wondered whether I realistically ever had a chance of placing in my own group. Ultimately, I think I came to the conclusion that if I found a race small enough….it might just be possible. Welcome to Mississippi! On the Saturday following Thanksgiving, we ran the Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon and Half-Marathon on the Stennis Space Center in the southwest corner of the state, just a few miles from the Gulf and Louisiana. I won my age division! True, there were only 11 other men in that division, but it just so happened I also ran a “Karen-era” PR – by a considerable margin – finishing the course in 1:42:40. I’ll take it! As it turns out, this was NOT our smallest race. In fact, there have been quite a few that were smaller – but it was definitely more “down home” than many have been. However, it was a perfect day and course for a PR. It was cool, overcast, very little breeze, and about as flat as a pancake. And there was irony, as well.

Karen also finished first in her age group – and had more competitors! So we had a bit more in our luggage on the return trip – two plaques to help us remember our moment in the spotlight.

It was another great trip and weekend. It was actually preceded by a complete surprise trip (for Karen) to Chicago for Thanksgiving for a very nice, but quick visit with family. We then had 2-3 days in Mississippi, where neither Karen nor I had ever spent much time. We enjoyed an afternoon on the Gulf Coast (still quite a few reminders of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina a few years back) – which looks like it would be ideal for family and kid bathing in season!

The whole area is part of the Mississippi River delta, so lots of swamps, southern forests, and bayous. Our half-marathon was through such forest and bayou country – certainly no urban areas. We drove up to Jackson and, after church on Sunday morning, visited the Capitol where we got a private viewing. We found it closed, but knocked and a security guard let us in to tour the very impressive edifice. We then spent half a day driving down the Mississippi River or along the Natchez Trace, a famous trading route for centuries.

We visited Vicksburg National Military Park (a Union victory that had perhaps more significance than any other during the Civil War); stopped along the Trace to enjoy an authentic southern fried chicken lunch; and had a little time in Natchez – which, in its day – was one of the wealthiest cities in America and was replete with southern estates and mansions.

After Mississippi we flew from New Orleans to Orlando and met Buggy and Grace for several days at Disney World – which was a great finish to our week away. But more on that trip in a later post. As for Mississippi – it was ONEderful! (And by the way, at the end of 2009 we have completed 37 States! Thirteen plus DC to go!)


Mythreesons said...

A plaque! You love cluttering your walls with plaques reminding you guys that you're awesome! OK... just kidding. That is pretty cool that you both placed. I can't remember ever visiting Mississippi. I think it's interesting to see a little history of each state as you run it... you really are getting a taste of American history as you do each of these races. Mississippi sounds vastly different from Vegas. Love the pics and congrats on the PR and plaques!

princess jen said...

Congratulations on the plaques you now get to add to your wall of glory! My friend lived in Vicksburg for about 6 years I think. She complained about the humidity but overall had an interesting time exploring the area.

Rachel's Mommy said...

Another great post! This really was a great trip, from start to finish. Not used to so much time off between races! I love you.

Super Daysh said...

Go you!! You are going to have to get a new wall for your plaques (since I don't know if they'll fit on your medals wall...tee hee hee). That's awesome that you both finished first!! Was this the race where you got the misspelled medals too? ;) Wish I coulda come... saaaaad.