The 2016 Back2Back Challenge was to complete two races in two states over two days. First up was the 2016 Mississippi Blues Half Marathon with the 2016 First Light Half Marathon filling in on Sunday. This was not my first experience with back to back half marathons. I dipped into those last fall with the Hartford Half Marathon on Saturday and the Ocean State Rhode Race on Sunday. While both outings on that trip were about the same, this round created two different tales and I learned a two important things.
The first thing I learned was I really need to plan my flight schedule better. Instead of driving like I did to Connecticut and Rhode Island, I flew. Turns out flying in on Friday for Saturday’s event wasn’t the best idea. I was more beat up than I expected Saturday morning and rolling my ankle early on didn’t help much. After a day to adjust, rehydrate and recover from being in the air, Sunday was a much better day for my legs. I think I’ve finally admitted defeat when it comes to this and will definitely be giving myself an extra day to recover from flying in the future. Good thing I booked flights for my next two long distance events (Rock the Parkway and Monumental Half) with that in mind!
The second thing the 2016 Back2Back Challenge taught me was that I’m actually probably ready for One City. Not 100% ready but I’ll certainly finish while maintaining my ability to walk the next day. Struggling through the final eight miles of Race #1 on a hard course with a touchy ankle and a tired brain left me feeling unsure about how Sunday would go. I knew I’d finish but I wanted to see how much I had, how ready I was to push my body to complete to long hard workouts in two days. With a successful and solid performance in Race #2 I wrapped up the weekend on a positive note while looking forward to hammering out some long marathon training runs over the next few weeks.
The Back2Back Challenge as an event is great. Both races are well organized though Mobile has better scenery and fewer hills. The Blues Bus, which takes runners aiming for both races from Jackson to Mobile with little hassle was incredibly convenient. Massive medals for both half marathons are nicely complimented by a special Back2Back participant medal and plaque that features images of both states and both race logos on a spinner.
I’m glad I completed the 2016 Back2Back challenge. It was a great way to check off two more states, test my training with 9 weeks to go before marathon day and lots of fun.
Have you run the Back2Back Challenge? Back to back races? Which ones?