05 March 2022

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Pre-race mugshot

Seventh weekend, 6th ultra marathon. This time, I finally made it to run the classic Carl Touchstone Mississippi 50 Mile Trail Run in Laurel, MS. I had previously registered twice to run this event and both times, something had come up. This time, I made it to the starting line. My wife and I arrived in Laurel Friday night, in time to pick up our race packets, 50 miler for me, 25K for her. This would be the 26th running of the race and I had every intention of earning my very own 50 mile finisher buckle, something this race is known for awarding to finishers, similar to most 100 mile trail races and a few other 50 mile events. We had reserved an RV campground nearby to be able to spend the night before and the night after the race there before making the 5 hour drive back home. We headed to the campground for a quick dinner and to prep our gear for the 6AM race start the next morning. My goals for the race were simple, stay comfortable and finish the race. I was able to accomplish on of the two goals. 

The weather forecast started to look frighteningly hot. I had just run a mountain race in 30 degree temps the weekend prior and this race was now calling for temps in the mid 80s a full 50 degree swing in temps and the first warm race of the year. As a result, I was targeting a pace much slower than originally planned. The race course consists of three 12.5 mile loops followed by two 6.2 mile loops and while it is rather flat and fast, there are some short gradual climbs along with some seriously muddy spots that had many a runner sink into it up to their shins. One runner was spotted having one of his shoes pulled off and searching a considerable amount of time trying to retrieve it. The race start went off as expected. A large pack of runners charged ahead, impossible to know the 50K runners from the 50M runners at this point of the race. The large loop contained a .75 mile out & back section, here I would at least be able to see who was just a mile and a half ahead of me. The runner's bibs identify their respective race distances, so I would also be able to note than on the out & back.

Anyway, it really didn't matter. It had been a while, October 2021 actually, since I'd ran 50 miles or more. The plan was to keep running the entire race distance without walk breaks. That plan worked until mile 40, when my race turned "south". It started with a short walk break and nearly ended with me sitting down nauseous with a 10K to go, lightheaded and unable to control my breathing. That lasted about 10 minutes or so, when my wife finally told me to just get out there and get it done. "You can walk the entire 10K loop and still be done in no time". Well, that settled it, I would walk until I felt like running again. Unfortunately, that didn't happen until I had about 2 miles to go.
Post-race mugshot
after looking over my shoulder for over an hour, I finally got passed by another runner. It was the impetus I needed to finally get running again. It started as a slow jog and turned into an actual run by the time I had one mile to go. When I finally crossed the finish line, I was elated to finally earn my Mississippi 50 Mile finisher buckle. The unexpected serious heat had me struggle mightily for the last 8 miles, which made the finish so much sweeter. An additional note about the race swag, probably some of the best I've seen in a while. A race t-shirt, a beanie, a finisher medal, a finisher buckle and a sweet Orange Mud Transition and Seat Wrap. They definitely didn't skimp on the schwag.

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