Spring Break?

Its spring break week, but that does not mean a lot to me. Although, I work at Mississippi State University, I am not faculty, and this is just another work week for me. But, its more than a work week, because its an awesome place to work. Always something happening at the museum and always something new to learn. This week, Christopher Wilson from Sam Houston University in Texas came to visit me and look at our Brachymyrmex ants! How cool is that! Ants in the genus Brachymyrmex are tiny little buggers and are commonly called rover ants. I don’t get many species around here, but I have collected some undescribed species and have loads of records of the common ones!

To start the week off right, Joseph and I did our 10.4 miles route Sunday afternoon. Just us today, and I suspect with it being spring break, it will be that way the entire week. It was super windy with sustained 20 mile per hour south winds.  The difficulty level was increased for me because I seemed to be suffering from some sort of allergy, which has had me sneezing and watery eyed.  Managed a 6:40 pace even so. Joseph was 2 minutes ahead of me at our water stop, which was at around 7-7.5 miles. He decided to run the rest of the way with me, but even with that slower part, his total average pace was 6:29 per mile. Did I mention how windy it was today!  Almost got ran over twice today. The first driver was lady who was not interested in our running past her car as she was stopped at a stop sign. Then, about a block later, some guy decided to turn right on red at a light as we were running by. Problem was, he did not stop. Joseph managed to split off and go behind him, but I was already committed. Suddenly, I was in front of his car with him glaring at me and still moving. I basically just stopped running and put my hand up in a stop motion and told him to stop the car. Crazy.

Monday, did a 5 mile run out here in Sessums with the kid. I finished up at 32:23 and he was a little in front. Planned on doing a workout type run today, but we were both too lazy. Spring break? Anyway, ended up not running Tuesday and Wednesday, but did get a really good upper body workout one day!

Thursday, we went over to Longmeadow for a cruise tempo type workout. After jogging a mile, we did 3 X 2 miles with 3 minute breaks between them. Pretty good weather today at 5 pm. Perfect actually. Bummer though, right as I finished my warmup jog, my left calf felt sore! I guess that started at the track Saturday. Wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to run, but I ran with pretty good posture and avoided hitting my heel and was able to do the workout at the pace I wanted. I ended up doing 11:48 for the first one, then 11:56, and 11:58 on the last one. Joseph was 11:34, 11:48, and 11:49.

Woke up Friday morning pretty lazy, as was Joseph. So, we did some pushups, pullups, curls, and ab stuff to get going. I think it helped! That afternoon we went for a short 3.4 mile run out here in Sessums. Joseph’s friend Cody rode a bike along. It was another beautiful day! We just ran together and finished in 21:36 (about a 6:21 pace). This was probably too fast, but it felt easy today and we did not go far.

Saturday, me and the Joseph checked out some of the action at the MSU Bulldog Invitational Track Meet. He was hoping to see his classmate and friend from SHS Alex Ross compete in the 3200m race, but as it turned out, Alex was not allowed to run because he missed practice this week.  Of course, if you miss practice, you should not be allowed to run in an upcoming meet. Well, maybe not always. This week was spring break, and his family went on vacation for the week, so he could not have come to practice. So, yeah,that is ridiculous. Anyway, Alex is a 3200m runner who after 3 meets has yet to run in his event. Bummer for him. Did I mention that Joseph does not run for his school anymore? I can’t really blame him. But, to be fair, he is participating in a wide variety of extracurricular activities that occupy his after school time. Even though we did not get to see Alex run, we hoped to see our awesome buddy Ethan Musser run the 3200m race, but apparently, he was not entered in that race either. In fact, of the top four 3200m runners on the team, none of them ran that event? Weird. Yes. Of course, I would have loved to see Joseph run that today, given that he was close to 10 flat last year for this distance as part of a longer workout!  SHS did have two runners in the race, but both were over 12 minutes.  Curt Knight of Jackson Academy, who was Joseph’s primary distance competition when Joseph ran for Starkville Academy in 7th and  8th grade, won the 3200m race with a 10:04, and Joseph’s friend Andrew White from Tupelo High came in second with a 10:30. Similarly,  none of Starkville’s better 1600m boys ran the 1600m race, such as Damian Grady, who ran a 4:35 last year. Ryan Campbell (another private school runner), won the 1600m race with a 4:48.10 and Andrew White from Tupelo was 2nd with a 4:49.96. Not times that should win a mile race, but in Mississippi…  Ethan Musser did run in this race, but only ran about 5:12. However, Ethan is not a super speedy guy, but rather, one of those guys who can keep up a good pace. Hence, why he should run the 3200m. In the 800m race, Starkville High’s Damian Grady easily won the race with a average time of 2:02. He had absolutely no competition at all. If Damian were so inclined, I feel sure that he could win the 5A state meet this year in the 800m, 1600m, and 3200m races. Except for a couple of individuals here and there, long distance runners in the 5A division (and other divisions) are mediocre at best this year (usually every year), and he would have no competition from what I have seen. Unfortunately, he is apparently not running the 1600 or 3200m races this, which he is actually more suited to. Not sure why, because this would be a nice triple.

It is so frustrating to see distance running at the high school level in Mississippi lag so far behind other states year in and year out. There have been a few exceptions here and there of course. In fact, one of those exceptions is Kate Mattox, who now runs for Starkville. Although she is only in 8th grade, she is ranked no. 1 in the state in the 3200m and the 5k. At the meet today, she set a meet record in the 3200m race with her 11:32. She was closely followed by Tupelo’s Christian Daniels at 11:36, also well under the meet record time of 11:50 set by Christian. Kate won the 1600m race as well with a 5:41, with her sister Walker placing 2nd! Good for them. But, other than an anomaly such as Kate who pops up once in a while, the distance scene is not competitive at all in our state. Ironically, one reason we moved Joseph to the public schools from the Academy was for the supposed higher level of competition in the public schools. As it turned out, his two major competitors in the privates schools, Curt Knight and Jon Luke Watts, are now the fastest two distance runners in the state, with the public school kids not really being in their league. While at the Academy Joseph usually beat them in races, but did not compete against them after leaving the private schools. Now, Joseph does not even run track at all, but instead just runs on his own. Ah well. Such is life.

After leaving the meet, we headed to the Starkville High track for a workout. Today’s plan was 200m fast/2000m easy, 200m fast/200m easy, 800m fast/400m easy, then repeat for 4 reps. It was pretty warm at 3 pm, and  a bit windy, but we managed. Mostly, we were really lazy today! We ran the track backwards today, and I have to say, I liked it better! Joseph ran his 200’s between 32 and 35 seconds, and his 800’s were 2:21 to 2:34. I ended up modifying my workout slightly by doing 3 sets of 200/200/800, then 200/200/400/200/400. My 200’s were between 35 and 39, 800’s between 2:46 and 2:55, and 400’s were 1:16ish. This is a pretty hard workout for me, because you don’t ever stop moving with the jogs between! I confess, I did stop a couple of times to snag some water!

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