Monday, January 26, 2015

Race Report: Servis 1st Bank First Light Half Marathon

We left Jackson in the early afternoon for the three hour trip to Mobile, Alabama, with expected stops in between.  We stopped in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, looking for Mississippi Mud Pie and came up short at the first place we went to, plus a couple others we had called - so we went to Chili's to have a quick snack and drink (and also introduce Hema to the wonder that is Chili's).  We found out a restaurant in downtown Hattiesburg did have the iconic dessert, and that they were opening at 4pm, so we headed over... to be told that the restaurant wasn't open until 5pm, and that their website had been advertising it wrong due to a recent change in their opening times.  Luckily, they were kind enough to accommodate four strange New Yorkers in pursuit of sugary goodness, and made us a mud pie to share... and it was SOOOO worth it.  We gobbled up every last bit of it; and even took home some white chocolate beignets that the waiter had told us was actually their "signature" dessert.  In any case, if any of you happen to be passing through Hattiesburg, Mississippi, definitely stop at Vicki's on Walnut, and partake in the most scrumptious-tasting pie you'll ever get your mouth on.

My Back2Back Challenge Canvas
created by Lucy!
With the sun setting, we proceeded on to our final destination, but with an important stop at the state line to grab a photo with the "Welcome to Alabama" (and a perilous u-turn in the other direction to get a "Welcome to Mississippi" sign, as well!)  We made it to Mobile at around 7:00pm, just as the vendors were taking down their booths, but still with enough time to collect our bibs and goodie bags from the First Light organizers. 

There are permanent signs along the
course!  Pretty nifty :)
(Photo by Kimberlee Lafferty)
The Servis 1st Bank First Light Marathon and Half Marathon is in its 14th year of existence.  Proceeds from the races go to L'Arche Mobile, the local chapter of the international federation of communities, L'Arche International, in which people with intellectual disabilities and those who help them can live, work, and share their lives together.  The medals were all handmade by members of the community, and Back2Back Challenge Participants got a special canvas artwork, also handmade by a member of the community. On the back of the canvas, there was information on the L'Arche member who created the artwork - mine was by Lucy: "Lucy is known to be the community diva. She takes pride in looking classy and feeling good. Lucy enjoys arts and crafts, especially making beaded jewelry and coloring bookmarks. When she is not focused on her work, she can be found dancing and singing to her favorite soul music."

This cute kid with a funny sign.  I
 saw him twice on the course!
(Photo by Kimberlee Lafferty)
After grabbing our bags, we drove to the hotel to check in and drop our stuff off before meeting the rest of "Team Renegade" - our friends who are also dual Half Fanatics and 50 States Half Marathon club members - at The Royal Scam, a restaurant that just happened to be on the first floor of our hotel's building.  We got together for a late-ish dinner and then headed off to bed, since we had an early morning.

50 Staters before the First Light Half
(photo by Kimberlee Lafferty)
We got up around 6am to get ready for the race - and Donna had just arrived from waking up a bit earlier to drive out to the Florida/Alabama border to capture a state sign photo!  We headed out to the start line, a short walk from our hotel, to meet up with other Fifty Staters and Fanatics for a quick photo, and I managed to get interviewed by the local CBS affiliate, WKRG, and featured in their article and video which you can find here!  The race didn't use chips, so it was a gun time, and we handed off a strip from our bibs at the finish line to record our official finish time.

Mobile National Cemetery gate
(photo by Lynn Robertson)
I started off rocky.  My knees were not completely ready for another 13.1 miles and stiffened up at the start.  Less than a mile in, as we took off down Government Street, I already had to stop and walk a bit to shake my knees out.  I started to run again as we turned down S. Broad Street, and then another half mile later a little more walking.   We made one more turn, and I continued to do some walking, watching several more people pass me, as we got to the corner of the Mobile National Cemetery.  Right around here, my knees started to understand that we were going to go through another race, and I finally loosened up a bit and picked up the pace.  I ran around the outskirts of the cemetery, and into the residential neighborhood for the next mile, picking up the pace little by little, before coming back onto Government Street around the 4.5 mile mark. 

Stopping for a quick twerk before the 10k
(Photo by Kimberlee Lafferty)
There was a long stretch down Government Street for a couple miles where I caught up with my friends Loan and Kimberlee who were running on the Galloway run/walk method.  I chatted with them and captured a couple photos - even got a little buttslap and so I twerked for them in the middle of the course (as I do...) and then continued on my way!  About mile 6 was when my music was finally getting me in stride, and I started to sing along to my playlist, amusing people along the way.  It's always a blast getting people to join in on my "Let It Go" remix! :)

A home in Mobile...
but not a mobile home, in that sense...
(photo by Lynn Robertson)
Look at these gorgeous trees! 
About 8.5 miles in is where the course finally splits with the marathoners turning left and the half marathoners continuing ahead before turning onto another long stretch, curving into a beautiful residential area again, covered with canopy of humongous live oak trees, reminiscent of Savannah, before heading straight downtown down Dauphin Street to the finish line. With a mile left to go, I notice my friend Donna just up the way so I speed up just a little to come join her.  We are able to finish the race hand in hand, and together!

Finish photo with the 50 states crew!
(photo by Lynn Robertson)
After getting through the finishers chute, we grab some of the tasty red beans and rice they have for finishers after completing their races... As more members of our clubs finish we start to assemble for our photos... I ended up doing my headstand about four times after this race! We hobbled back to the hotel for much needed showers before heading to the airport for each of our flights back to NYC.  What a fantastic weekend!

With all the weekend's bling, at the Mobile airport!

Guest headstander Sophie and I!

With the Mobile Azalea Trail Maids!

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