I accidentally ran a marathon…

15 10 2008

This past weekend Rinne & I headed to Jackson for my neighbor’s wedding in beautiful Mississippi.  It was a challenge giving up a fall weekend in NC or North Georgia for a trip to Jackson, but well worth it.  The service was beautiful and it was an added bonus seeing f my sister who was also able to come in from Phoenix.

According to my running schedule I needed to get a long run of 18 + miles in one day.  This can be challenging enough to find suitable trails around here for this, much less in Jackson MS, but at least it was a guarantee it would be a flat course.  I woke up early Saturday morning at my father’s house and left from there heading toward the trails of the Pearl river.

I have been playing in these woods since I was about 10, and by playing I mean doing what stupid young boys do, starting fires (on the beach of course), making little bombs, smoking cigarettes and other recreational agricultural products, drinking, going off rope swings, doing the past 3 things listed simultaneously.  I come back to visit these woods on almost every trip home and find a new appreciation for them each time.  And over the past 10 years or so it is nice to see them in a healthy manner.  The woods seem the same as they always have, except now it  just seems a shorter distance on the trails to reach the river.

I ran for about half a mile on road until I reached the entrance to the trails which was afield overgrown with tall grass, and my dry foot-ware became immediately soaked from the morning dew. Cest lavie.  I ran past points along the trail that threw my memory back in time and brought what I am sure was a stupid grin to my face.  A tornado had touched down here in the spring so the trails were not as clear as I had hoped but thanks to the ATV enthusiasts everything was easily passable.  I never thought I would be grateful for the ATV riders, but if it were not for them, none of these trails would even exist.  I kept moving at about a 7:15 pace for the first part of the run.  For me, going long distance, this is flying, I could get used to running in Mississippi.  The trails dumped me out at my old soccer fields, ( I really sucked at that sport, but had a blast playing it).

I meandered through a few neighborhoods until I could reaccess the trails along the river.  I had to back track now & again when the trail would just suddenly stop. At about mile 7 I found myself in the middle of a cypress swamp and about 20 feet of water separating the other part of the trail I was supposed to be on.  The swamp seems to be unaware of the drought going on around the Southeast.  I walked up about 30 feet and crossed the water on a beaver dam, where from the looks of it some deer had had the same idea.

Kermit in swamp

Kermit in swamp

In my mind I was completely expecting to see Kermit the frog here, but he made no appearance, which is just as well as I am not fond of hearing banjo music when I am in the woods.  (Mental note, must sneak the duelling banjos tune on a trail runner’s ipod).  After the swamp crossing, a mile or so more through the woods, I made it to an aid station (translation convenience store) and loaded down on Pringles, Gatorade and more water.  Life is a bowl of cherries. I crossed a bridge to get over the river, and my plan was to head back upstream on the Pearl river on trails the whole way to the Reservoir, that was my plan anyway.  I headed back into the woods and was on great single track for a mile or two and crossed some ladder bridges over a creek, and was soon on fairly well maintained gravel roads on the edge of pine forests.  I had seen this area from google maps which meant I was on course for 18-20 miles.  What google maps did not point out, was this was private land.  I figured it was a hunting camp of some kind, and the deer stands on the edge of the forest with steps up to them affirmed my hunch.  I knew it was not season, so I figured it was allgood. The road was very straight and I could see a T intersection ahead, and I had my eyes set on it for what seemed to be 15 minutes, and when I was about a 100 yards from the intersection I saw a large white F-350 cruise by.  Uh oh.

As I made it to the intersection, I could see the truck making its way toward me at a high velocity in reverse. Ok, I thought this is going to be intereseting. The man driving the truck rolled down the window and his first words were “you’re not from round here are you?”  I already knew the answer to this question, “hell, no, I’m lost as I can be.”  This nice older gentleman who was obviously not too thrilled to see me on his private hunting grounds gave me a small lecture  about private property and public property, which I took several notes on, and thanked him for setting me straight.  He had a gun sitting on his passenger seat, which he never let his eyes direct to, but which mine were setting up a permanent camp at.  (I know I ended the sentence with a preposition, however let me remind you the setting is Mississippi, so when in Rome…) At the end of my lecture about property and property rights he pointed me ever so kindly in the direction to leave his property, which was only a bout a half a mile to the gate. I gladly started off in that direction, but about 5 steps into it, I realized my run was going to be a lot longer than I expected, and even worse I was going to have to run on the road.

Running on the road was not as bad as expected, but contending with motorists on a Saturday in MS on their way to watch football, aaiiyyyeeeeeeee!!!  I kept cruising along the roads hoping to find another way into the trails.  I took a turn after the trailer park at the Shady Oaks RV Park sign, which seemed like a good idea…  I am not sure if I was seeing things or not, but there was an Indian temple under construction on this road.  My first thought is I am hallucinating, this is not a site I expected to see on a run, much less what started out to be a trail run in Mississippi that has already gone through a swamp.  So I stop and look at this place a little befuddled, and I ask one of the workers what is going on.  It turns out he is the foreman from India and he invites me in for a tour of this 80% complete temple.  Now 80% of the construction is done, but none of it has any color, it is just grey.  If this were not surreal enough already, now I am seeing real life in Black & White.  I satiate my curiosity of the place, thank the workers for the tour and make my way back toward home.

I run along the edge of another hunting camp, knowing that my tress-passing, at least on hunting camp property for the day has ended.  I climb a fence into the Jackson Country Club and run along the levee separating the golf course from the river and with each step getting closer and closer to home.  I was only supposed to do 18 or so miles, but I am already at 25 by the time I hit the country club. I arrive back at my dad’s house with a little over 27 miles on my legs and am beat, but at least no one asked me to squeal like a pig.

Click below to see a map of the run, minus 3.5 miles or so of it.





One response

21 10 2008
David Ray

Good story. I love having the Garmin for runs like this. Just go.

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