I don't think of myself as a particularly athletic individual, but a few years ago, I started running—as in a fitness activity, not because someone was chasing me. It even got to the point where I ran the inaugural Mississippi Blues Marathon in 2008. While I'm pretty certain that I will not be doing any more full marathons, I do love Jackson and think the Blues Marathon is a fantastic event that will continue to showcase our city to the world for years to come.
I like being fit, so this year I agreed to be on a relay team with four other girls. For the relay, each team member runs 5 miles, with the last person running the final 6.2 miles. Inspired by my friend Claire Barker, who was training for a full marathon in Baton Rouge and organized our relay team, I agreed to tackle the last leg.
Being a group of girls, we naturally decided that picking up our packets at the marathon expo the Thursday evening before the race was an event warranting a night out. I met Claire and teammates Germaine Benoit and Mandy Hattaway at the expo for packet pickup—and a little shopping. We chatted with Lesley McLin who owns Fleet Feet (500 U.S. Highway 51, Ridgeland, 601-899-9696) and picked up a few items for race day.
We then headed to a new addition to the downtown Jackson restaurant scene, Wasabi Sushi and Bar (100 E. Capitol St., 601-948-8808, http://www.wasabims.com). The fact that I can now get sushi without leaving my downtown neighborhood makes me really happy.
That Wasabi flies its fish in from Hawaii every day and has such an accommodating staff make it even better. That night, we started out at the bar but ended up getting a big table as other friends joined us. A nice evening with good company and good food was a great way to head into race weekend.
Luckily, race day was beautiful, and I anxiously awaited the text updates from my team members as I got ready to head to my handoff point in Belhaven. The marathon really is a big deal, and even people who aren't runners get into the spirit. Among my favorite spectators were: the guy in Belhaven watching the race in his front yard with a beer while wearing a banana costume; Anna Kline, Jane Halbert Jones and some others who watched while wearing fun hats (and crowns); and Anders and Mandy Ferrington and their friends, who attempted to chase me down to hand me a mimosa. (This may come as a shock, but I declined it.)
My run felt great, and my teammates jumped in at the end so we could all cross the finish line together. Afterward, enjoying blues music in the sun at the War Memorial Building and talking to other runners and friends made it a great way to start the year and celebrate the accomplishment. The evening Blues Crawl offered something for runners and blues lovers alike. Eight area bars participated, each featuring live blues music and the Fondren Trolley provided transportation. When Jackson comes together to celebrate, we do it right.
I'll confess, though, that I was actually a bit tired from the exertion of the day and skipped the crawl. Instead, I decided to engage in a little post-race pampering the following week by visiting Aqua the Day Spa (Banner Hall, 4465 Interstate 55 N., 601-362-9550).There's nothing like a little recovery massage and pedicure. Walking through the glass doors into the spa, the calm just washed over me. It's so nice to have a little oasis every once in a while, especially when life is so busy all the time. (Yes, one of my New Year's resolutions is to take regular time for relaxation and quiet.)
I got so relaxed and felt so good that I decided if I ran 6.2 miles so easily, I should sign up for a half marathon soon. So I did. Come March 4, my teammate Claire and I will get to have another race-tastic time, but this time on the road, at the Rock 'n' Roll New Orleans Marathon and Half Marathon.