Saturday, April 2, 2016

Viking Half Marathon

Welcome back!

Of course, I'm saying this to myself just as much as I am to you, since this is my first post in six weeks, but I thought a post about my first race of 2016 would be a good place to get started again.

Last weekend Darcy and I traveled to Greenwood, MS for the Viking Half Marathon. I didn't have as great of a day as I did last year, which you can read about here, but it was certainly a fun adventure anyway!

It all started on Thursday. Darcy was in Miami for an investor day, and I was in Bartlett. We had arranged our flights in a way that I would be in Memphis a little before her, which would give me time to get the rental car and pick her up and we would be on our way. Easy, peasy, right?

Unfortunately, weather issues happened! My flight left over an hour late and hers was cancelled, which left us scrambling a little bit. It meant I had to stay in Memphis overnight and pick Darcy up when her flight arrived at noon on Friday. The night didn't end badly, however, as the rental car person must have felt sorry for me as she let me drive away in this Dodge Challenger!

Man I loved driving this car!

Anyway, it was mid afternoon by the time we got to Greenwood, which gave us time to get settled before heading off to a cooking class I had signed us up for. Greenwood is home to Viking Range, and they offer all sorts of cooking classes that are very, very popular. It was a nice coincidence that the class the night before the race was called "Pasta Party", so it was an easy decision to sign up.

What a great class! We made pasta from scratch, made our own spaghetti and Alfredo sauces, meatballs, and we even stuffed our own ravioli. Talk about an amazing meal! All of that was good stuff for the race the next day, but I kind of counter-acted that by drinking a ton of wine, probably not a good idea, but it was for a good cause.

We also met some new friends, the Wombles -- Tom, Rosemary, Tom Jr. and Mary Ruth. They were are partners during the class and were a really fun group to hang out with. Tom Sr. was really goofy, so we hit it off right away, Tom Jr. worked in a restaurant and liked food, so we had that in common, and Rosemary was really funny and she and Darcy had some good conversation.

The Wombles live in Batesville, which is about an hour from Greenwood, and all of them are Ole Miss grads, so they had plenty to say about the food and restaurants in Oxford.

They said when we came down for next year's race we need to meet them in Oxford and taste some of the food from there. I'm definitely down for that.

They are wonderful people and were so much fun to participate in the cooking class with. It was kind of a random thing to be paired up with them, and, no disrespect to the others in the class, I'm glad we were because no one else in the class had as much fun as we did.

They were also there to run as they were all running in the companion 5K race. As we left for the night
Tom remarked that I'd see them at the finish line, which I thought was nice but figured they would be done long before me. More on that story later, but let's just say they cemented their place as true Southerners the next day.

I didn't sleep well, and race morning came a little quickly for my taste, but I've run some great sleep-deprived races before, so I wasn't worried. We got to the finish line about 15 minutes before the race and met up with Brent, who lives in Greenwood and works (or should I say worked -- past tense) for Viking.

I have mentioned Brent several times in this space, and if you read the link from the race last year, I describe how big of a help he was in my race last year.

Brent actually wasn't planning on running the race as he hadn't run more than eight miles since December, when he had IT band issues while running the St. Jude Marathon. He ended up registering the night before,
though, which I was happy about, one, because I was looking forward to running with him and two, Brent is starting a business and moving to Huntsville, AL, so I thought he HAD to run his hometown race!

The race got underway and I could tell pretty early on that it wasn't going to be my day. No doubt I probably hadn't fueled up as well as I should have the night before, but I also had done little training leading up to the race thanks to some knee left pain that had been nagging me for a few weeks.

I had planned on approaching the race as more of a training run anyway, but even with that philosophy going it was tough to find a pace that I was comfortable running. Fortunately, the Viking course is pancake flat, and most very beautiful, so I tried my best.

One of my favorite places on the course is a bridge that goes over the Yazoo River. Runners cross the bridge twice, once at about the 5K mark and again at the end.

It's just one of those old, historic looking bridges that seem to fit well with its surroundings. As you can tell, I can't really explain it, I just like going over the bridge.

The bridge also leads to Grand Blvd., which is the main street in town and has lots of neat old homes. What makes it even more beautiful is that, unlike at home, the leaves are coming out and everything is starting to green up, so it has a nice, fresh look to it.

I wish my running was looking as well as Grand Blvd., but I just wasn't feeling it and I could tell by
my splits that I was beginning to slow down. I was walking through the water stops, which were at each mile marker, but by mile 7 I was walking in between the water stops too.

It was OK, though, it was such a beautiful day (temps were in the 60s) and I was having some good conversations with Brent, and by that point I decided I was just going to enjoy the day and the course and make the most of it.

Around mile 9 I could tell Brent wanted to pick up the pace a little bit, so I told him to go on ahead. I ended up doing a bit of walking between mile 10 and the finish, but I also stopped and took some photos and talked to the locals along the course.

One house was really funny as there was a family sitting in their driveway and a little boy was there tooting an air horn as each of the runners came by. I stopped and cheered for him -- and gave him a lot of encouragement
-- and he gave me two or three blasts. He was really cute!

I also took some photos of a couple of houses along the route. The first one was just a house I saw as stunning, and the second because it was a house that appeared prominently in the movie The Help, which was filmed in Greenwood in the summer/fall of 2010.

I've only seen bits of the movie, so I'm not sure what all of the locations represent, but Brent pointed this one out to me last year. He said the owner doesn't
have the time, money -- or inclination -- to keep the house up like it was in the movie, which is kind of unfortunate, but understandable.

I took another long walk at the mile 12 water stop to talk to a guy who recognized by my accent -- or lack of one -- that I was from up north, and it turned out he had lived in the Chicago area for a long time before moving to Greenwood over 20 years ago. Small world.

Anyway, I just kept plugging along and the end of the race drew near. I
crossed the bridge again and made the left turn onto a brick-paved road to the finish. I immediately looked up and saw Darcy (who had met up with me at three different places on the course), Brent, and the Wombles, and they were all cheering loudly! I gave them a wave and it was a nice way to finish the race.

The Wombles had cleaned up in the 5K as both Toms and Rosemary won age group awards! I was really happy that they stuck around to cheer for me

Overall I finished in 2:34:29, which was a bit disappointing but I'm not going to dwell on it. Unlike back in my past, I can now run a race that, although I may not be totally happy with, I can still enjoy the race and my surroundings and the process. I had a great time last weekend, and a tough day on the course doesn't change that.

I mean, come on, I had a great new adventure with my wife, drove a sweet car, learned more about how to make Italian food (my favorite), caught up with an old friend and met some new ones. Can't have a weekend much better than that!

1 comment:

  1. Such a fun weekend. I was so proud of you!!