The Mississippi River Half Marathon is a point to point race that crosses the mighty Mississippi River and winds into the town of Greenville. This is the second time I have traveled to the deep southern part of the United States. This is the second time that I have been met with the most bitter of bitter cold. Ultimately, I think the good Lord is telling me something.
Getting to the Race
I flew into Little Rock, Arkansas which is a 150 mile, 2 hour and 25 minute drive from Greenville, Mississippi. This drive will bite me right in the tookus on the way home. In addition, I planned horribly for this trip. Did I check the weather? Nope. Pre-book a hotel? Nah, don’t need to. Word of the day: Unprepared.
The plane landed and I got to the baggage terminal. I had on my flip flops and shorts fresh from Scottsdale and the Sonoran Desert. I quickly realized I was the only one wearing shorts and flip flops I thought I’d check the temp outside. It was 33 degrees and after a tad more research? Forecast is cold with sleet and snow expected. Next up, get the rental car. It looked like a toy you’d get in a box of Cracker Jacks. About half way to Greenville I started to get nervous. The road was icy and seemed like a storm was brewing. What could possibly go wrong?
Most races require you to pick up your packet, race bib, etc the day before. Fortunately, the race packet pickup was at a little strip mall that had some other shops. Right next to the exit I found a TJ Maxx. Time to load up on all things WARM. I bought a Mississippi State sweat shirt, a beanie, some gloves and a second layer of pants. Now to find food and shelter.
For food, I found a Subway. No surprises here. The hotel experience was a bit different. I found a quality hotel for $69 per night that included a used condom wrapper on the floor and orange tinted running water. Awesome. I think I slept in my clothes on top of the covers.
The night before the race was brutally long and I don’t think I slept more than two hours. Around midnight I heard a ton of noice outside and looked out the blinds. It was sleeting. Maybe it was hailing snow-rain stuff. All I know is that everything was covered with ice and snow. I was certain they were going to call the race so I kept checking my phone but the call never came.
Around 4:30 a.m. I woke up and ate my oatmeal pouches with bottled water and took an orange tinted warm shower. I got dressed. At 5:30 a.m. I headed to the race start. It was absolutely freezing.
The Mississippi Half Marathon – Ice Dancing
I’ll never forget the bus ride out to the race start. It was a school bus and I can say I’ve never been that cold and miserable in my life. Once we got there I had a nice chat with the mayor of Greenville sipping a hot coffee. The race started and I wish I could tell you what running over the Mississippi River was like but I don’t remember much. It was mighty for sure. Frankly, I was frozen solid and all I was focused on was not slipping as we slid around in the slush and snow. To top it off, my phone was so frozen and wet that it shut down around mile 5. I had but one thought, finish the race and go home.
I finished the race but I never got warm. You think you would after that long a run but I was just as frozen at the finish as I was at the start. Now to get home.
The Trip Home – White Knuckles
I hustled back to the hotel for another orange tinted warm shower. Time to pack the bags, load the car and head north to Little Rock. The roads were in bad shape and every mile I drove the roads got worse. One inch of snow turned into two, then into four and eventually six inches of snow. About half way home I was pretty sure I was going to die. Recall, I was in a front wheel drive match box car never made to drive in the snow. Furthermore, I was in a state with zero snow removal equipment. I pulled over to catch my breath because every mile or so my car lost traction and started sliding. WHITE KNUCKLES.
The second half of the trip was the worst. Cars littered the side of the road. They had all slid off the freeway and were stuck. I missed my flight because I was driving 35 miles per hour. About three miles from the airport, magically, the roads cleared. Apparently that is all the state of Arkansas had the equipment to clear. I can still remember that sense of relief. I parked the rental car, checked in my luggage and sat at the bar for several beers. Everyone at the bar was telling similar stories.
Fortunately my wife Amy was able to rebook my flight. I remember telling her, “just get me somewhere WEST” and I’ll figure it out from there. Off to Dallas, TX and eventually home. Another trip to the dirty south. Never again Mississippi.