First Light 1/2 Marathon Race Recap

State #7 (repeated) Alabama half #5
Half Marathon #51

I did this race in 2012 and have always wanted to do it again. Luckily, since we are local now, it can happen every year! Rich ended up winning two entries on Facebook the week before the race so it was a free entry for us.

For the most part Alabama is HOT. Legit, I’ve pulled out a winter coat 1-2 times so far this year and this race weekend was one of the times. The weather for the race ended up being more cold than normal (just like 2012) and I had to wear tights and long sleeves, which I RARELY do (I might have been able to get away with short sleeves and arm warmers).


The race start is less than 2 miles from our house so we woke up at 6:00, had breakfast and drove downtown around 7:00. We parked near the finish and stayed in the warm car until absolutely necessary to get out. I did a small warmup, saw my regular run crew and we lined up near the front for the start.IMG_7902Miles 1-8

Coach’s orders were to negative split. Start slow, and hammer the last 5. I wanted to stay between a 7:25-7:30 for the first 5 or so miles. I knew the cold weather and flat course were in my favor, but they also make it hard to not go out to fast.

The first few miles looped around the Downtown and Oakleigh neighborhoods. I did my best to hold back and let others pass me and just focused on my race. This part of the course has the most turns and is also the prettiest- I love the Okleigh neighborhood! Around mile 5 we hit a longer stretch of the course and water stop the course hit a longer stretch and I knew to expect my Dad and Nancy with my Nuun at the end of it (mile 6.5).

I waited until mile 8 to drop the pace and push for the last 5 miles. The course split just before mile 9.

Miles 9-13.1

I felt GOOD. I took a Huma Gel at mile 10 and knew I would see Mom and Kirk right near my house at mile 11. It was nice seeing family along the course and it gave me something to look forward to when I was having to push so hard. It didn’t hit me until this point when I looked at my watch that I was close to a PR and I could maybe make it but it was going to be close.

The course was a straight shot to the finish and I only had to dodge one ice spot and made it my goal to focus on whomever I could pass (which ended up being two guys).

I gave it my all, including my last mile at sub 7.IMG_3749 (1)I crossed the finish line with a smile, because even though I was JUST short of my PR, I felt a thousand times different on this race than my actual PR race.Screen Shot 2017-02-19 at 2.08.07 PMRace Results

1:36:01 (chip)

21 out of 597 overall

3 of 52 F 35-39

7th female overall

I followed Coach’s plan just as he explained it, and ended up with a top 10 female award.

Garmin ResultsIMG_8413 IMG_8414 IMG_8415SO happy with my execution.

Post Race

I finished and immediately saw a few of my Carpe Diem runner friends (who all did amazing!) and we caught up for a bit. It was SO cold and I wanted to see my other friends who did the marathon relay and the awards so we decided to grab breakfast downtown while we waited.IMG_8014 IMG_8015We still had to wait another hour or so before the awards but I’m glad we did. I grabbed mine and couldn’t get home quick enough for a hot shower. I must admit, it’s super nice to not have to rush to a plane post race! IMG_7905Overall

I can remember a few years ago loving the race because it was at “home” but wishing they would make a few changes. The race has definitely grown over the past few years and for the better.

The have a real start line, chip time and bigger finish party.


  • Local, hometown race
  • Handmade awards
  • Flat and fast

Not so Much

  • Aid stations need to be ready and actually handing out cups- not just sitting on table

Travel Tips

Since this is local, I can make plenty of recommendations! You can stay with me! But really, if you stay downtown, you are right at the start and finish. If you are interested in doing the 50 states, MS has the Mississippi Blues Race on Saturday and is definitely doable for a double (they have an extra award for those that do it).


Definitely a favorite because it is wooden, unique and made by a charity. I LOVE the awards because they include a story of which member of Larche made it.FullSizeRender FullSizeRenderFullSizeRender_1Final Thoughts

I executed the plan perfectly and only wish I would’ve found a few seconds early on to actually PR (again, following directions). The race was a huge confidence booster for me, knowing that a little over a year ago the same pace felt MUCH harder.

This is a race I obviously recommend and will hopefully do year after year. I will say that I have no desire to do the full marathon, the first half is flat and fast but the second half is much more hilly (and where I do a lot of my long runs).

This is a great race option for those racing the states and for anyone looking for a fast and flat course that isn’t too expensive. Come see me!


About the author


View all posts

1 Comment

  • This one’s actually kind of close to me, and I might run it some year! And you’re lucky to get a cool day. The weather this winter has been killing my racing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *