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As always, Brian and I started out early on 02/13/2015 and left Antioch at 5:51am. We had packed our belongings the night before and the cooler that morning and it was easy going down the road to Mississippi. We are in the middle of book 5 of the Outlander series (The Fiery Cross) so after stopping to get Starbucks I began. I had been struggling with a little vertigo and some fullness in the R ear and for some reason that really acted up during the ride down making reading difficulty and I had all but lost the hearing in my R ear. I tried to keep going, but took a lot of breaks. We ate from the coolers as we always did and passed through all of Illinois, a bit of Missouri, a bit of Arkansas, a bit of Tennessee and finally into Mississippi where taking the direct route meant driving through little bitty towns for the last 150 miles. Finally we made it to the Mall in Greenville Missouri a little after 6pm where we were to pick up the race packet. We weren’t given any information as to where in the Mall the pickup was but we managed to stumble across it accidentally. I got my packet and headed out to Ichiban for dinner. Eating Asian cuisine in Mississippi…really? It was surprisingly good! We each had a couple of beers and headed back to the hotel to relax. This race is the only other race like West Virginia where they pick us up by bus and drive us 13.1 miles away and we run back. Brian and I don’t prefer that as he can’t be with me at the beginning but only the end, but it was ok. I did my usual routine, up early, dress, lotion, lube, bathroom, bathroom and Brian drove us over to the finish line that we found easily. The race started at 8, but we had to be on the buses between 6-6:30am. So, I had Brian drop me at the bus at 6 and head back to the hotel 10 minutes away to relax rather than stand around until 10am for me. I got on the bus at 6am, feeling the bathroom urge and was promptly told that we weren’t leaving for 30 minutes. Ok, calm down guts!!! So, we sat! While on the bus I struck up a conversation with another runner named Bobby L, from Madison, Mississippi. This was his second ½ marathon and we chit chatted about running and talked about the other races and generally just passed the time. We were the first bus at the staging area just over the Mississippi River in Arkansas and I hit the bathroom running. All was good and I stood around trying to keep warm for an hour. It was about 30 degrees, but they had provided us with gear check bags so I was wearing my pink sweat shirt and grey sweat pants and was pretty toasty. About 30 minutes before the race I started to put all that stuff on to get ready and checked my bag. About 15 minutes before the race I borrowed the cow pusher on the front of an Arkansas State Cops SUV to warm up, it was the perfect height and headed to the start line to get into it. We were off exactly at 8am and across the bridge over the Mississippi River. The bridge was over 2 miles long and the first mile was the only uphill in the entire race. I started with buff and gloves and they both came off by the crest of the bridge…and we ran. While on the bridge something in my head popped and my vertigo went away and my hearing came back in my R ear, weird, but such good timing. We ran for 8 miles on the straightest and flattest road in the world. So, now it is a mental game. I thought about the wedding, looked at the weeds, counted my teeth, looked at other runners and then we were passed on the R by a guy on a brown/white painted horses with a western saddle and snaffle bit in a nice easy canter. That was amazing. Then we turned and started running through town. With more turns it became easier to distract myself and there were a lot of spectators cheering us on throughout the route. I was wearing a long sleeve and capri pants and it was a little too warm so I had been pouring a little water down my front at every water stop. I took a gel between 4 and 5 on the flat part and grabbed another gel at 7 that I took between 8 and 9. I settled into a nice easy pace at 10 and was surprised to find that my L knee and L foot, that had been bothering me off and on for the last week, just started to tell me about it then. I picked it up a little at the end and crossed the finish line at 2:03:40. Number 24, DONE!!! I walked around a little bit and caught my breath and went over to check my stats. 3rd in my AG, cool! So I went up to get my prize, well the two in front of me were upgraded in their prizes to winner - Masters and winner - Grand Masters so I got first, cool! I was 114 of 424 total runners, 44 of 266 women, 3rd in 50-54 AG, and walked away with 1st place in AG trophy. I went to pick up my gear and ran into Bobby Little. He had to stop 3 times during the race but finished in 2 hours, 10 minutes. We sat and drank a couple of beers with him and chit chatted about the future of my quest and exchanged numbers. We agreed to keep in touch and will likely do Louisiana before 2015 is out and try to see if Bobby can do that one too. Next, Maryland on 05/09, but first wedding planning, wedding and honeymoon!!!

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