Around noon yesterday my mom and neice met Tim and I, and we headed two hours north to Birmingham for the Mercedes Half Marathon. Before we headed out my mother-in-law brought over a vegetarian lunch for us. The idea of cooking vegetarian anything is very foreign to our family so it was really special.
Antipasto, Macaroni & Cheese, and Fruit Salad:
The packet pick-up for the race was at the Health & Fitness Expo at the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center. I got really excited when we started seeing all the race signs around town.
Tim and I stopped to pose beside one of the signs outside the Expo after picking up our packets.
At the Expo I picked up: a tshirt, a pair of sunglasses, a Spibelt (awesomest thing ever) and a pair of socks.
Once we picked up our packets and stopped for a few photo ops, we headed to our hotel. The race website listed the Sheraton hotel as the place to stay because of their special Race Weekend Rates and the very close proximity to the start line. Basically you walk out of the hotel and are at the start line. But Tim and I get free rooms at Hampton Inn because of all the traveling he does for work, so we opted for the Hampton instead. I was a little nervous at first that we might not be close enough to the race, but once we located the hotel I realized that we were just as close as the Sheraton, just one block over. Score!
I grew up in Birmingham and my very favorite restaurant of all time is there, Surin West. Naturally we headed there for dinner last night. Between race weekend, Valentine’s weekend and it being a Saturday night we had a 45 minute wait for our table, but it was totally worth it. This was my first time going to Surin as a vegetarian and while I did miss my favorite Snow Crab sushi roll (Zwai Gani), I was able to find some delicious alternatives. We pigged out!
We shared egg rolls and vegetable tempura maki for our appetizers:
The maki was the definite winner. It was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! I order Tofu Massaman for my entree and Tim ordered Tofu Pad Thai.
I also had 3 beers with dinner. Probably a bad idea the night before a Half Marathon, but oh well … life is for living! Once we finished our dinners we headed back to the hotel, prepped everything for the race and went to bed early.
My alarm went off at 4:30 this morning. I like to have ample amounts of time before a race to wake up, dress, eat and mentally prepare. We headed up to the free hotel breakfast at 5:00 and I had a bagel with cream cheese and water for my pre-race breakfast.
We stopped a couple times on the way to the start line for a few more photo ops. I particulary love this picture of me infront of the reflective pools in Linn Park.
Once we got situation at the start line I felt very emotional for some reason. I didn’t feel this way at my first Half, but seeing the HUGE crowd of people all gathered together to run for various reasons really got to me. I was also very nervous and proud for Tim who was running his first Half today. I didn’t have long to think about these things before the race got underway though.
I flew through the first 5 miles just amazed at the large crowds, onlookers, TV crews, etc. When I looked down at my Garmin and saw that I had already gone 5 miles I couldn’t believe it! Miles 5-9 weren’t bad at all either. Around mile 9 I started really needing to go to the bathroom, but I figured at that point that I could make it to the end. Part of me wanted to not drink anymore water/gatorade because I didn’t want to make matters worse, but I also knew I needed the hydration. I was trying to find a balance between the two. I knew my time was good to set a new PR and I didn’t want to mess that up by waiting in line for a Port-O-Potty. So I kept going.
Alot of the course was uphill then downhill, uphill and downhill, there were some flat parts but alot of hills. There were people everywhere with inspirational signs just when I needed it. One in particular that made me laugh said, “Keep going, the Kenyans are just ahead.”
Around mile 10.5 I knew I was getting blisters on my feet and by mile 11 they were really really hurting. I kept telling myself, “just 2 more miles, just 2 more miles” … “just 1 more mile, you can do 1 more mile can’t you?” Lesson learned: never wear new socks during a race that haven’t been tried out before. They were way too thin and my foot was rubbing against the bottom of my shoe.
Another inspirational thing that came to my mind when things were getting really tough was my mom telling me to “run with your heart, not with your body”. My mom was a marathoner in her day and she loved being able to see me run this race. Just when I thought I wasn’t going to see my family along the race course and when things were the toughest, I spotted my mom and my neice in their bright pink jackets at Mile 12.
Thats me waaaay in the back with my arms in the air when I saw my family. I was pumped!
I ended up finishing in 1:45:32! I beat my previous Half Marathon time by more than 7 MINUTES!
My splits were:
Mile 1 – 8:01
Mile 2 – 7:55
Mile 3 – 7:45
Mile 4 – 7:56
Mile 5 – 8:15
Mile 6 – 8:06
Mile 7 – 8:22
Mile 8 – 8:18
Mile 9 – 7:55
Mile 10 – 8:05
Mile 11 – 8:00
Mile 12 – 8:00
Mile 13 – 7:59
After the race I picked up my finishers tshirt, my medal, my free food and headed back to the hotel room to assess the damage to my feet. I ate: 2 small Cascadia Farms granola bars, a Snickers Marathon bar, a banana, 2 small slaws and a pack of chips and drank 2 Powerades. Crazy!
I found this jewel on my foot when I took off my shoes –
I’m happy to be back home! Although I’ll be limping on that foot for a couple days.