I have been excited about this race for months, maybe even a couple years. I ran the Mercedes Half Marathon in 2012 and decided then that this had to be my Alabama Marathon and just had to work it into my schedule. I loved the course during the half and the full is just 2 laps around the course. I had picked Brooklyn up from the airport in New Orleans late Friday night and we didn’t make our way to the race until later in the day on Saturday than I had planned.
Brooklyn & I made it to Birmingham just after 5 pm. We were able to pick up our packets and walk around for just a few minutes before the expo closed at 6. We were staying with a friend of mine drum corps so we went there to drop off our stuff before heading out to dinner for a some quality Birmingham craft beer and a little carb loading.
Race morning began with a 5am wake up and after getting ready we found a Dunkin Doughnuts and made our way to the start area. After finding parking downtown we walked to the start line. The area just before the corrals was overly crowded and nobody could really move. After fighting our way through the sea of people we split ways and went to our corrals.
I loved this course 2 years ago & I loved it twice this time. It’s a fast route with a few strong hill climbs in it (one particular that wraps around a hairpin turn around mile 7 & 20), but is very well balanced with decline sections also. I felt fatigue in my quads within the first 5 miles & knew that I could take my time getting to the end. I was running intervals the whole time following a 15 minute run/30 second walk pattern. This worked very well for me. I had to adjust it a little here and there to line up with water stops and the porta potty.
My goal was to maintain an 8-8:30 minute per mile pace. I stayed pretty close to those times for the first 20 miles. For the final 10k I realized I had the chance to break my current PR (3:56:51) so I started to try to run a little harder. Unfortunately, trying to run hard at mile 20 means you’re running the same pace you were at mile 1, only working three times as hard. As I started mile 23 I decided that the clock will be whatever it is, but I was going to take easy to the finish. I’m running another marathon in 2 weeks. So I started to do the 5k shuffle. That’s when you move your feet, stop to stretch, move your feet, watch pace groups go by, move your feet, drink a beer, then run hard the last quarter mile to the finish. I finished with a new PR of 3:50:07!
The post race party is great here! Big BBQ plates, free beer, massages, & running friends. Brooklyn & I met up with BamaGirlRuns & MsPrincessLeigh for a while to talk while we are and recovered from the race.
I have to say that the support along this course is incredible. Lots of spectators & so many volunteers! There were more water stations than you could ever need, not to mention 4 GU stations! It’s a no gimmick race that has lots to offer because it keeps everything as simple as possible. Plus, look at that medal! This won’t be my last time running the streets of Birmingham.
Finish Time: 3:50:07
Division 26 / 63
Male 193 / 655
Overall 244 / 1027