With the hotel booked, leave approved, bags packed, itinerary printed, tasty-looking restaurants mapped out (The Manship/La Finestra), race course/elevation studied, and the Dallas Metro PCS Marathon canceled in December, I was more than a little excited to run the Mississippi Blues Half Marathon.
We checked into our hotel in Jackson and were pleasantly surprised to see that I had booked a suite (not only one but two mega-flat-screen TVs!!!). The bedroom and bathroom were located down a small hallway and closed off behind their own separate doors away from the lounge/kitchen area. Best. Room. Ever. As selfish as it sounds, there’s nothing better (when you’re technically “vacationing”) than having a separate room to put the kids to bed without having to join them or watch HBO at the lowest decibel possible.
We let the twins burn off some energy running around the hotel room before heading over to the Expo. Somewhere between our hotel room and the Expo we lost one of my daughter’s shoes. Ever wonder how that random little shoe ended up by the side of the road? Now you know.
Also, out of all the photos my husband snapped of us at the Expo, only one was halfway decent, albeit still blurry…
As it turned out, The Manship Wood Fire Grill is NOT kid friendly, especially to those requiring a high chair. Because they don’t have any. It did smell really delicious though, as we stood outside with our faces pressed against the glass watching all the fancy, kid-less folks guzzle their muddled cocktails and wood-fired delicacies… So I pulled up restaurants on my phone and we started driving around the fine (err….) city of Jackson, striking out over and over again. We actually followed my phone’s terrible GPS directions–not only once but twice–to end up driving in desperate circles before ending up back in our hotel parking lot, frustrated and HANGRY. Our hotel gave us printed directions to Bravo! Italian Restaurant, which assured me on the phone that they had high chairs. Take that, your royal Manship!
We arrived at Bravo, twins in tow, and put our name on the list for the 45 min-to-an-hour wait. Now officially the twins’ bedtime, we nervously shuffled around the packed, swanky waiting area–keeping the twins quiet with complimentary mints–and praying like crazy for no one to have a very public meltdown. At this point, it could have been any of us, but everyone was in a good mood sensing a meal was near. The wait turned out to be worth it because the food was delicious. On top of that, everyone at the restaurant (mostly sans children) was very nice to us. I’m sure it was a funny sight to see toddlers eating bread dipped in olive oil and little bites of salmon with ratatouille.
When we asked for the check, our waiter said, “You must have a friend in the house tonight, because someone took care of your bill.” He smiled sheepishly while my husband and I gaped at him, then at each other. No meltdowns–no screaming or crying–not only were we going to make it out alive (and with our gold star for good parenting), but our entire dinner was free! Later we tried to speculate who might have paid, but whoever it was remained anonymous, even as we walked out wondering if this was real life.
After I got the twins to bed at the hotel, I found my husband fast asleep on the couch. So much for that whole “awesome hotel suite” thing… I watched the news and looked through my race schwag bag–I still haven’t broken out the harmonica or CD, but the 3/4 zip fleece pullover was an awesome surprise.
Race morning went smoothly, although pre-race jitters were making my shirt look like I had done quite a warm-up (yay for sweaty pits!). Since there was no 2:10 pace group, I lined up with the 2-hr pace group with the plan that I would run with them as long as I could and slow down when needed. It turned out that the course was surprisingly hilly (so much for the deceptive elevation profile…).
By mile 2, I regretted wearing a long-sleeved shirt. By mile 4, I realized I was running just a teensy bit too fast and knew I had to slow down. After mile 9, I watched the pace group pull ahead of me and I was left to slog it out by myself and dodge some really annoying walk-then-sprinters (no offense, but yeah… that’s annoying). By mile 11, I had to seriously bully myself up and over the last hills with the mantra: “Get your ass up this hill. Get your ass up this hill. GET YOUR ASS UP THIS HILL!” It worked. I didn’t walk up one single hill and I even took 8 minutes off my previous PR. My official finish time was 2:05:35. I was really proud of myself and really sore the next day.
After a relaxing bath and a late check-out from the hotel, we drove out of Jackson without the GPS, having taken the “full tour” the night before. Overall it was a great trip. The race was well-organized and had great post-race goodies: chocolate milk, hot pizza, cold beer. The fleece was great to pull on after the run to keep warm. The medal is ridiculously big–my husband joked that the runners in the full marathon received actual guitars at the finish line. When we later found out that the overall winners were actually presented with REAL GUITARS, we nearly died laughing.