Mercedes 1/2 Marathon Race Recap

Half Marathon #15
2 of 12 in 2012


Saturday/Pre-pre race
P and I drove to Birmingham after we/he finished his 9 mile run.  We met up with my TNT friends for lunch and then headed to the expo.

It wasn’t huge but all of the vendors were great.  First thing P said, “Free water at this race expo and $4 at that one in Savannah.”  Right on.  Smaller races are much more runner friendly.  We were literally at the expo for 10 minutes.  I did manage to get the IFitness Belt I wanted.

We had a little time to relax and then went to dinner at Bottega.  How in the world did I manage to forget my food pic?  I guess I was hungry.  Had a fabulous pasta dish with pancetta, chicken, and kale.

We were staying at Rob’s condo which was just a few miles from the start.  I set out all of my running clothes and set my alarm for 5:30.

Pre-Race
I got up, ate my usual bagel with peanut butter and waited for Ryan, Julie, and Michael to come and pick me up.  We got to the start around 6:15-6:20.  The race organizers were very nice and let us hang out in the auditorium where it was warm before the start.

Ryan, Julie, Me, Michael 

It was cold.  I have never in my life run in a race where the temps were going to be so low.  I had on my lululemon run tights, lulu long sleeve run swiftly shirt, lulu fleece/fitted running jacket and 2 pair of gloves.  We received free throw aways at the expo and I was glad to have the extra pair.

 I met up with Greg (a twitter friend) and we had plans to start together.  It didn’t take long to learn we run our races differently and it probably wouldn’t work but it was nice to meet him! There were no corrals at the start-just pace time signs.  I started towards the front, but not too close.  I didn’t want to over do it.  While waiting for the start, the announcer asked how many first timers they had.  To my shock, TONS of runners in front of me had their hands up.  WTF are you doing at the front of the race.  Why weren’t there corrals??  Whatevs.  I hoped they weren’t going to slow me down.

Start line

Miles 1-8
I literally had to walk over the start line because everyone started at once.  The first few miles were spent making sure I didn’t trip over anyone and adjusting to the temps.  My body was starting to warm up a bit but my face was numb.

There were tons of volunteers out.  It seemed like the race had a water station at every mile.  I hate to say I didn’t pay much attention to where I was running.  The roads were kind of like New Orleans-you have to watch your every step.  Lots of uneven areas and potholes.

Around mile 5 I noticed my garmin was off from the course mile markers.  It had been for each mile and I thought it would eventually catch up.  But I was really short on the miles.  I asked the other runners around me and everyone said the same thing.  One man was friendly and asked if this was my first time at the race.  He let me know that the hills at mile 7-9 were what usually hurt and that the race doesn’t lead to negative splits.  I will admit, I didn’t really look at the course online-mainly because I don’t know the city well enough to know what any of it means. 🙂

I went to eat my GU around mile 7 or so and knew it would be frozen so I kept it in my hand for a half a mile or so.  I get to the water station, eat my GU, and go to chase it with water.  But my water was more like a slushy.  Wow.  This is Alabama.  FREEZING for Alabama.  I then noticed that the water stations were frozen on the ground as well and that volunteers were telling runners to slow down and not to slip on the ice.  I guess it was freezing after people threw their cups down.

Mile 7-9 was the only area of the race I was familiar with-we were running through Rob’s neighborhood-it’s on Highland Ave (Southside) I believe.  The hills didn’t seem that bad.  No worse than Atlanta.  The course was just rolling.  It didn’t make it easy to keep a solid pace the entire time.  I knew I would see P, Rob, and Chris around mile 8 and was very happy to see a familiar face when I did.  There weren’t a ton of spectators out so I am very thankful they braved the cold to cheer.

At some point in the beginning of the course the relay racers were a bit out of control.  It seemed unorganized and there wasn’t a lane for them to run into.  Consequently, some rude relayer stopped right in front of me and started yelling to find her teammate.  No thought for the many runners behind her.  I said something to her and she just continued to scream for her friend in the middle of the race.  Nice.


Miles 9-13.1
The rest of the race went by quickly.  I was doing my best to not run too hard and really had no idea what my time would be-I didn’t pay too much attention to my watch.  Around mile 11 or 12 we hit the half marathon/marathon split.  A man next to me said he hoped I was doing the marathon so I could pace him the rest of the race-I guess he had been next to me the entire race and I hadn’t noticed.  I told him my marathon pace wouldn’t be this fast and that I felt like it was an off pace day for me.  Glad he thought I looked good though! We ended up chatting for a mile or so because the split was actually much further up.  It was nice to have someone to talk to and to take my mind off the cold and the race.

The finishers chute seemed to come up on my quickly and before I knew it the race was over.

Race Results
Right at my goal.  And it honestly felt effortless.  I didn’t really hurt on the course (or after the race).

1:49:50
642/3690 overall
174/1955 females
38/303 females 30-34
Garmin Results

You can see the hills coincide with my pace above.  The course was still short (and several others said the same thing at the finish line) but not by too much according to my watch.
Post Race
I grabbed my medal, my hat, powerade and a banana and found P, Rob and Chris.  I snapped my post race pic and quickly headed inside the auditorium where the post race party was held.  I was freezing!!
Terrible.  why can’t the photographer center the back drop?  What a concept.
I was really impressed with the post-race for such a small race.  They had a band, raffles, and free Jim and Nicks BBQ.  Talk about food!  A BBQ sandwich, chips, coleslaw, fruit cup and free booze and Coke products.  We hung out for a bit and then left to go meet some friends for brunch.  They were giving away a free Mercedes and other door prizes but we weren’t going to wait an hour and a half to see if we won anything.
Me and P at the post-race party
post race party-view from the stands-it was crowded!
enjoying my Jim n Nicks BBQ
After a great brunch (yes, forgot pic again) where I indulged in a potato, peppers, and egg burrito topped with queso we headed back to Atlanta.  
Overall:
Favs:
The bling
Hat and shirt
Volunteers
Post-race
Cost of race
Not So Much:
Birmingham roads
Weather (not the race’s fault obviously 🙂 )
No corrals
Relay runners
lack of photographers/bad pics
The Bling:
Cars really don’t excite me…but I will admit this is one really, really cool piece of bling.  I love it.  Love the lanyard, its nice and heavy and has a spot for your name and time to be engraved.  This goes in my top 5 I think.

women’s cut tee.  love! and running hat.
Final Thoughts:
I would 100% do this race again.  It’s a short drive from Atlanta, a very inexpensive race for all that you get (food, swag), and a relatively easy course except for a few hills-which in my opinion-are good for your legs during a race.  I will be back next year.  And if you need an Alabama race and love cool bling, this is a must.

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Elizabeth

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