Monday, August 11, 2014

Race Recap (Or Lack Thereof): Riverboat Series


Riverboat Series
Saturday, April 12-16, 2014
Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana

April 10, 2014 - Travel Day

I left home before dawn for the 15 hour drive to the first hotel in Union City, TN. The first race would be just over the Kentucky border at Columbus Belmont State Park in Columbus which was only a short drive away. The drive was pretty non-descript driving through the flat terrain of the Texas panhandle, through the rolling hills of Oklahoma and Arkansas and finally through the small towns resulting in my final arrival in Union City. I checked into the hotel and waited for my room mates each of whom I had never met before. Cyd was the first to arrive and we headed out to lunch at The Corner BBQ in town which I'd highly recommend to anyone doing this series...great food and people there. We went back to the hotel to chill until our other two room mates, Cynthia and Andrea, arrived and since they hadn't eaten yet we recommended the BBQ place to them. Cyd and I eventually went next door to Sassafrazz for dinner...another restaurant I would recommend while in town. The rest of the day was just spent chilling out, unpacking and such and getting to know each other since we wee all strangers to one another.

April 11, 2014 - Rest Day, Packet Pickup

This was a no rush day with the only real task being to pick up our packets at the race venue. I picked up my bib for the 4 half marathons and the 1 full marathon that I had registered for and took a look at some of the shirts and such that were being displayed for sale. We  didn't stay at packet pickup for long since it was raining off and on. We drove around town a little just to look around...there's not a whole lot there...and just got our gear ready for the race the next day. Apparently our meals, besides the free hotel hot breakfast, was pretty forgettable since I can't even remember what we ate!

April 12, 2014 - Belmont State Park, KY - Race Day

Northern view up the Mississippi River
We checked out of our room bright and early and headed to the race venue
Belmont State Park was a beautiful locationn for the first race of the series. Located right along the Mississippi River the scenery was green and lush on on the unpaved part of the course it was just a tad slick and muddy in places. This was probably the hilliest of the five courses for this series.

The thing I love about the Mainly Marathon series' is that there is no time limit. You can run full bore or walk at a nice pace and enjoy the scenery and the camaraderie of all the other participants. For half marathon participants, we had to do six laps collecting a rubber band at the completion of each lap to keep track of where we were in the race.
Southern view down the Mississippi River.

I was lucky enough to know some people from a previous Mainly Marathons event that I had participated in so as we passed each other we chatted to pass the time away. I did my usual walking up the hills and jogging on the down hills but when it came to the trail portion of the course I tended to slow down to a walk just so I wouldn't lose my footing in the slick ground. My finishing time wasn't great 3:52:30 but I really don't care about my times when I do these events. For me, it's about knocking out another state on my 50 states quest.

Clint Burleson, race director, giving the
morning's instructions.

Race day packet pickup.
After the race I hung around for a quick post race massage and then started the drive to the next hotel for the race the following day.

Since I was the first of my roomies to arrive at the next hotel in Millington, TN I unloaded some of my belongings and awaited the arrival of the remaining three girls and was able to grab a post-race shower finally. Once everyone was there, I went back to unload more of my stuff and as I reached the top of the stairs and turned towards our room I slipped on an expansion joint and KERTHUNK! fell and severely sprained my ankle. Needless to say my racing days for this series was over. Thankfully I was traveling with my walking boot from back in September when I had a stress fracture just in case my ankle started acting up again. Unfortunately it was my opposite ankle that decided to give out on me this time.
My ankle within 2 minutes of my fall.

I put on my walking boot after icing the area for a bit and grabbed my crutches (which were also traveling with me) so that we could head out to dinner at Old Timers Restaurant where we were to meet a bunch of other people from the race for dinner. Imagine the shock when everyone saw me hobbling around on crutches! lol!
Only about half the folks that showed up for dinner!
After dinner I packed up and headed to the Memphis VA Medical Center to have my ankle checked for a possible stress fracture. After I was there for about 2 hours the final diagnosis was a Grade 3 ankle sprain which would mean major healing time. Not what I wanted to hear. Although this put an end to running any more races I decided to stay and follow the group and be a cheerleader/photographer since I had already done all the traveling to get to these races. Thankfully Clint has offered to defer the races that I couldn't do to another series which I plan to take advantage of in 2015.

I put on a brave face despite my disappointment in not being able to complete the series, but that stoicism would catch up with me the next day.

Remaining days and states - The anti-race recap

On day 2 of the series the race was held at Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park in Tennessee yet another picturesque location all nice, green and plush compared to the desert environment that I live in normally. I decided to sleep in a bit before heading out to the venue to watch part of the race and take some photos. I hung out and even crutched one loop of the course getting two blisters on my hands in the process. The day was cool and overcast but totally beautiful weather for a run. Watching everyone partaking in the race my disappointment finally got to me and I broke down in tears from not being able to do the races. The pity party for one was over fairly quickly thanks to some hugs and well wishes from my running friends and so I settled into my newly bought folding chair to watch the action of the day.
Crutchin' one loop of the course. Owww!

My friends Amy (in blue) and
Cynthia (one of my room mates).

Miss Margaret
After hanging out for an hour or two I decided to go checkout Graceland (not that I'm a huge Elvis fan) but I figured since I was in the area I might as well. The place wasn't as big as I thought it would be and it was decorated in standard 70's style decor. I only ended up staying about an hour before heading off to the next hotel in Greenville, Mississippi.

I suck at selfies!
Front of the mansion.
Gold records room.
Elvis' grave.
Luckily, we'd be in Mississippi for two nights for races in Arkansas and Mississippi. The third race was held in Lake Chicot State Park, Arkansas. I have to admit, it was raining cats and dogs so myself and one of my room mates decided to take a rest day and just stay in and out of the weather but there were the die hards who went out there and ran in downpours and lightening just to get their races done. My hat is off to them and their determination.

Race number four was at Leroy Percy State Park, Mississippi. Again I slept in a little before heading out to the venue to cheer and take some photos. I managed to stop and pick up a bunch of donuts for the already massive snack table and took a little walk part way along the course to some raised platforms to see if I could spot some alligators but it was too cold for them to come out.

Cyd, one of my room mates.
Out on the course...
Having fun on the course.
No gators!  :(
I left the race a little early for the drive to the final hotel in Rayville, Louisiana which was just a short drive to the final race location in Citivan Park, Winnsboro, LA. We met up with a few of the other runners for dinner the night before the race and had a grand old time with April and Krystal, two sisters, teaching us non-Southerners to talk Southern. This was one of the most fun dinners of the trip. Again the next morning I slept in a bit before heading off to watch the final race. The location is a beautiful park with a bridge and plenty of trees. Would've been a lovely place for me to run...
Amy and Mildred
Amy being cute!
Andrea, one of my room mates, with her medals
for the series.
This is what the food table looks like at
every race!
No gators...again!
Running through the woods.
Mainly Marathon family...
I spent one more night in Rayville with Andrea and Cynthia since Cyd had already left. We all went our separate ways early the next morning and I did the 12 hour drive back home. I had to cancel a lunch with my cousin in Dallas since my ankle was bothering me so that was a bit of a bummer. But, I'll be back to finish off this series in 2015 as well as a couple of the other series' in the Mainly Marathons schedule.

If you haven't done a Mainly Marathons event/series I highly recommend them. They have series' set up all over the US and I'm planning on doing the Independence, New England, Appalachian and Riverboat Series' in 2015. I hope to see some of you there!

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