I was a little hesitant about signing up for the Mississippi Gulf Coast Half especially since it was the weekend after St. Jude. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to run two halfs back to back weekends. I have not done that since winter of 2015. But my friend Jenny and her husband were going and so many other friends, I decided, why not? I ran it last year and really enjoyed it. Since I would be going to this race solo, Jenny told me where they would be staying so I booked my room at the same hotel. Friday, December 8 before race weekend, it snowed!! It’s been nearly 7-8 years since it’s snowed in south Mississippi! I was worried about the roads heading down to the coast Saturday morning, but most of the snow had melted. I met Jenny and her husband Eric at the expo in Biloxi around 2 o’clock Saturday afternoon to pick up our packets. Jenny and I were running the half and Eric was running the full. We had fun dinner plans to meet up with Valerie @icecreamrunner and her family at the campsite right by our hotel. I was looking forward to meeting her and hanging out with my friend Tricia @missippipiddlin !! Even Scott @scottinbamaruns dropped by to visit. We ate chicken and steak kabobs AND Valerie’s son Chase made the BEST peanut butter fudge! Me, Valerie, Tricia, and Jenny in Valerie and her husband Paul’s camper. We had the best time eating and talking around the camp fire. I even enjoyed a little wine 🍷 actually it was more than a little. Wink wink. Anyway, Jenny, Eric and I headed back to the hotel around 9. Jenny and I were able to work it out with Valerie and Tricia to catch a ride with them to the starting line instead of catching a shuttle. We were so thankful! (Thank you Paul!)
Valerie’s husband Paul, Valerie, and Tricia picked us up right outside our hotel a little after 6 AM. It’s a point to point race and the half marathon started at Jones Park in Gulfport. We finished at MGM Park in Biloxi. It was COLD when we got out of the warm truck. Sunrise at Jones Park. We got in line for the Porta Potty and took some pictures before starting the race. Me and Jenny Scott, Jenny, Valerie, me, and Tricia Hey we found Holly @hohoruns!! So glad we got to get a group picture before the race started. I missed seeing Holly at the finish. Tricia and I before time to run!
We sang the National Anthem before starting at 7 AM. I didn’t have a time goal, I just wanted to beat my time from last year which was 2:27:?? I ended up staying behind the pacer for 2:20 for the first 5 miles. It was cold and I felt pretty good for the most part. My pace for miles 1-5 were 10:35, 10:31, 10:35, 10:25, 10:31. Pretty consistent since I was running behind a pacer. After 5 miles, I decided to pass the group and see if I could beat him. My legs were a little achy, but I kept trucking along. Miles 6-9 were 10:30, 10:48, 10:28, 10:33. I took half a GU at mile 7 and walked through water stops. Miles 10-11 were 10:49 and 10:12. I made a potty stop somewhere in there but I didn’t stop my watch. Now, after mile 11 the course took us up the I-110 ramp by the Beau Rivage. After giving it all I had for 11 miles, they decide to throw in a giant hill which was uneven. I tried to move to the middle of the ramp so I would not be leaning as much. My knee started to talk to me a little bit but nothing major. I did not walk up the hill. I didn’t run this far to start walking. I was pretty proud of myself and saw the mile 12 marker, woo hoo!! Mile 12 I ran in 10:28 even with the uphill. What goes up must come down so after the turn around, I got to run down hill! Weeeee!! I ran down, down, down, and turned left toward MGM Park, then a sharp left through the finish chute which I did not care for. Mile 13, 10:18 pace and I crossed the finish line with an official time of 2:19:37!! I could hear Jenny screaming for me. I was SO SO happy and thankful for such a great race. “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given to me—the task of testifying the gospel of God’s grace.” Acts 20:24
Glory to God for another great race. I had a course record AND this was my fastest half marathon of the year. It’s hard to believe I had abdominal surgery in August and running distance much stronger than I was earlier in the year. Half Marathon #18 and last race for 2017!! We finished and we all had a great race!! Jenny’s husband, Eric (left), finished the marathon in 3:37:?? Wow!! He did such a great job. Jenny finished the half in 1:53. They are super fast and such a sweet couple. We hung out for a long time post race, ate, drank coffee, and visited. I don’t think Jenny, Eric, and I left until after 12. I was one tired Momma! We headed back to the hotel and hugged goodbye. It was such a great day but it was time to go home. I took a picture of my medal on the beach before heading north. Aaaaand it’s backwards lol. Oh well! Later we found out the race director gave the wrong instructions for the 26.2 turn around cone. Those that qualified for Boston ended up not really qualifying. That was so so sad and heartbreaking. I am so proud to have a great race in my home state and it was disappointing to find out this happened. I tell you what, I don’t think it will happen again.
I am so thankful to end the year on such a high note. I really struggled in 2016 with my running by the end of the year and had to DNS St. Jude and Dopey. I’m so thankful 2017 has been so much better. How was your year? Did you have any setbacks or meet all of your goals? I’m just thankful to be able to run again. Merry Christmas y’all and cheers to what 2018 will bring!!