A funny thing happened the other day as I was running the Mississippi Blues Half Marathon. Somewhere along the line I went in the wrong direction so instead of being with the half marathon I was running with the full marathon. Nothing against the folks running the full marathon, but they were on an entirely different course, so when I reached the 13-mile mark in the race I was in a completely different part of town than where the finish line was.
I’ve been in enough races by now to know that this sort of thing happens in races occasionally. I don’t know where I went off course but I think it was about 6.5 miles into the race. If I remember correctly you could go straight or right, and I went straight ahead. I didn’t see a sign although someone told me after the race there was a sign, but it was maybe 30 yards before the turn. Nevertheless, I didn’t see it. If there’s a turn, there really should be a sign right where you turn. There were several volunteers there and I thought one of them pointed straight ahead and told me to go that way. Everything happens so fast though, when you’re running past someone, that he could have told me to turn and I misunderstood. Or it could have happened somewhere else in the race. Anyhoo, I ended up in the wrong place despite the fact that I was wearing a half marathon bib (different than the full marathon bib) so it would have been nice if somebody would have pointed it out.
When I arrived at the 13-mile mark and was obviously in the wrong place, I quickly weighed my options, but I soon realized that it was too late. I could continue and just run the full marathon. That would have been fine if I was pacing myself for a full marathon, but there wasn’t much left in the tank at that point after running a fast half marathon. I could have tried to get back to wherever it was that I got off track, but I still don’t have any idea where that was, and it was apparently many miles back so to go back and try again was useless. Fortunately there were some helpful volunteers there and one of them was kind enough to drive me to the finish line so I could get my car.
It was a disappointing ending to a race I had been looking forward to. I threw my race bib in a trashcan before I got to the finish line so I wouldn’t be counted along with the finishers. I didn’t get one of the cool finisher medals, and I didn’t bother to get any post-race food, but instead headed straight for my car.
It wasn’t my best race but when I stopped running at 13.2 miles, my time was 1:40:48. As you can see on the final results for the 60-64 age group (below), I would have won my age group by about 17 minutes.
It’s not the end of the world and I didn’t lose much sleep over it, but the round trip was more than 1,200 miles. Add to that the cost of three nights in hotels, eating out, and race registration fees, and the entire trip set me back more than $700. That’s pretty steep for what turned out to be essentially a training run.
On the bright side though, it gave me a real taste of the Mississippi Delta Blues. Here’s a song I recorded to celebrate these low down blues…