Location: Birmingham, AL
Half Marathon #15
Thanks to my bitchy hip, I hadn’t run the 8 days preceding this race. After two visits to the chiropractor and a lot of quality time with my foam roller, a softball (because the foam roller just didn’t hurt quite bad enough!), and an ice pack, I was almost back to normal although not quite at 100%. But since I was assured that it’s just tightness and inflammation and that nothing is torn nor in danger of being torn, I wanted to give it a shot.
When I registered for this Sunday race, I already knew that I was going to have to work for a couple of hours Saturday morning, but I thought, “No big deal! I’ll be out of there by 10, home and packed and gone by 12, and at the expo well before it closes at 6!” Well that’s what I get for making plans. haha We had two rounds of severe winter weather come through last week, and the roads were positively treacherous on Saturday, the worst they’d been all week. The highways and roads in town were clear, but I work in the delivery industry, and those roads only account for a small percentage of the roads traveled by my employees every day. Usually when I’m going to be out of pocket, I let my people know to call a manager at a neighboring office if there’s an emergency, but I just couldn’t do that Saturday. I couldn’t leave knowing my employees were out on those dangerous roads, and I couldn’t put the burden of worrying about them on any of my co-managers as they all had their own people to worry about. But anyway, back to the point… it was nearly 5:00 by the time I got out of the office, filled my gas tank, grabbed a pizza to heat up for supper in the hotel room later, and got on the road. The drive down was miserable. I hate driving under three conditions: at night, when it’s raining, and when I’m sleepy. Well I had the perfect trifecta going for me Saturday making it a looooong 4-1/2 hours. I had called ahead earlier that afternoon to the expo to let them know I wouldn’t make it in time for packet pickup, so they sent my goody bag and bib over to the host hotel where I could pick it up when I got to town. I was super bummed about not making it down earlier because I had made plans to meet Holly from HoHo Runs at the expo! So I drove straight to the Sheraton, was in and out with goody bag in-hand in less than two minutes, and back on the road to Homewood (where I’d booked a hotel just outside of Birmingham to save a few bucks!) I had JUST gotten back on the interstate when traffic came to a dead halt. All I saw were blue lights and tail lights. I was was so ready to just eat and go to bed, and there I was, 10 minutes from the hotel, stuck in traffic. Well one of those things I could take care of. I reached into the back seat and grabbed my pizza. Cold pizza for the win! Thankfully, traffic cleared within just a few minutes. I finally got to my room about a quarter till 10. After a quick text to Holly letting her know I’d arrived and arranging our morning meetup plans, I crashed and burned.
Holly was also staying in Homewood at a hotel just right across the street from mine, and she very graciously offered to drive us downtown to the start. She picked me up at 6:00 on the dot and we made our way downtown. Parking was a breeze, so we had plenty of time to mill around before the 7:03 start.
Right after this picture was taken, the rain started. It was never a heavy rain, but steady enough that we were pretty well soaked before the start.
We lined up between the 9:00 and 10:00 min/mile pacers. I was planning on shooting for 10:00 miles, but once we started moving I settled into a 9:30ish pace and felt fantastic. There really wasn’t much to look at on the course, but I was never bored with it like at Mississippi Blues last month. Even with the soggy weather, there were lots of people out spectating and lots of groups had come out and set up their own aid stations with gummy bears, bananas, orange slices, etc. This was hands-down the most well-supported course I’ve ever been on. The race itself had probably 8 or so stations (3 of which had GU), and there were probably at least that many extra ones tossed in. It made them quick and easy to get through.
At the 10K mark, my time was 58:15, a 9:33 pace. I was pretty excited to see that number because at the race that holds my current HM PR (2:07:24) my 10K split was 59:45. But very shortly after that, things went downhill. I wish I could blame it on my hip, but I can’t. I didn’t even feel a twinge until around mile 10. The same thing happened that happened at St. Jude in December. I just reached a point where I was DONE. Like flipping a switch, running all of a sudden got a LOT harder! It could have been a lot of things really, (lack of sleep the last few weeks, dehydration, hills, stress, humidity) but none of the excuses matter. It just wasn’t my day. Not only did I not get that PR, I didn’t even meet the “B” goal of averaging under 10:00. Matter of fact, my time was a minute and a half slower than last month. I can’t lie and say I’m not disappointed, but I’m not beating myself up. I still got to go to a new place and run a great race and turn a blogger buddy into a real-life buddy! haha And my race photos don’t even suck!
I would definitely recommend this race to anyone thinking about doing it. It was reasonably priced, well supported, easy to get to, had fantastic post-race festivities, and I loved the shirt and medal. And we even got a finisher’s beach towel!
I’d love to say I’ll be back to this race, but the truth is, I’ve got a lot more states to do before I start doubling back and repeating states! haha Maybe in 2025…