Background: In late spring, a fellow church member and RFG alumnus, who we will call 'The Lewisville Flash,' decided that a Labor Day weekend run in the Magnolia State would be the thing to do. So we registered, trained, and headed out for Mississippi.
All summer we had expected hot, humid, muggy conditions in Tupelo, and so it was good news (tongue-in-cheek), that our expectations were met. Actually they were exceeded. We gathered in the dark streets outside the convention center for a 5 am start. Already in the mid-70's with 95% humidity, it would only climb higher after sunrise. But enough about the weather, it was no surprise, besides I've always believed that the strongest steel is formed in the hottest fires anyway. What really made Tupelo was the overall vibe, which was especially evident at the starting line.
Just before it was time for the gun to sound, a voice calls out from the middle of 600 runners:
"Hey, everybody quiet down and come closer ... tighten it up so you can hear me. Now, we are running the same course as last year. How many of you ran that course (about 20%), good, if you didn't run it last year just follow one of these people. You start when I say 'go!' Now, let's pray ... alright, everyone take off your hats and let's pray....Amen. This guy who prayed will be running out there with you. Go!"
Of course, this is even more classic when coupled with this email that we received last week:
This was great. It was nice for a marathon to take itself seriously, and yet, not take itself seriously. And I mean that in a highly complimentary way. In fact, all informalities aside, the areas that really mattered were fantastic; like aid station support, runner camaraderie, and the post-race atmosphere--especially comfortable as you finished inside the air conditioned coliseum and were met by plenty of seating, refreshments, BBQ, and really nice blues music.
Ultimately, the course--not the hardest, but not the easiest--the heat, and the stage of training that I found myself in for Tupelo, all led to a brutal run. Fun, memorable, enjoyable (yes, it can be miserable and enjoyable at the same time), but very brutal. It was a PR alright, just on the wrong end of the spectrum.
Oh well, the experience is always infinitely more important than the finish time (unless of course I grab a PR on the right end of the spectrum), and after 1,400 miles behind the steering wheel, and 26.2 miles on our feet, the experience was more about seeing the Flash run a sub-4:00 PR, receiving a lesson in Notre Dame football, listening to super interesting life stories, and learning how various rubber products are manufactured. Bottom line; Tupelo was an awesome experience.
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