Yesterday I ran the Mercedes-Benz Half Marathon in Birmingham, AL for the third time! This is my favorite race by far of the ones I’ve done, it’s such a well orchestrated event. My recaps for 2010 and 2011 are here and here.
Saturday afternoon Tim and I headed to Birmingham, checked into our hotel and hit the Expo. I was stressed out because we discovered a few days ago that Tim was accidently registered for the full marathon instead of the half marathon. Before we could fix the mistake the race had sold out for both the half and the full, I was afraid there might be problems switching his race. It turned out to be no problem at all. Whew!
Once I came down out of panic-mode we were able to enjoy the Expo. My purchases:
Saturday night I met up with my almost-life-long friend Vanessa and her boyfriend Ryan for dinner at Surin West.
It has become a pre-Mercedes tradition. I always contemplate branching out and trying something new, but I’m more of a stick with what you know you will like kind of girl. I leave the branching out to the Hubby and then steal most of his food.
Vegetable Tempura Maki and Tofu Massaman Curry. And yes, those are the exact same pictures I used last year also, in case they looked familiar.
Somehow before dinner was over at one moment I was laughing and talking with my friends and then all of a sudden it was like I teleported out of my chair to the next table and was doing the Heimlich Maneuver on a woman who was choking. It was all very surreal. Kind of killed the night and we left shortly after to move the party to the Century Bar inside our hotel. We reconvened with some other friends, had a night cap and then headed to our rooms for some sleep.
Sunday morning was COLD. Super cold.
We’ve been spoiled by the mild winter so
far, but it was in full effect for the race.
The wind chill made the temp seem in the teens! I was a little concerned, but mentally prepared to deal with it which makes all the difference in the world. I was actually more afraid of over-dressing and being too hot than being too cold. I’ve had trouble in the past with that and finding the right balance isn’t easy for me. When in doubt of what to wear, I’d always rather end up cold than hot.
Tim and I met up with our friends Mike and Marsha in the hotel lobby for a few quick photos before heading to the starting line.
I never really decided in my mind what my intentions were for this race. Usually I know ahead of time if I’m racing for time or just having fun. Lately I’ve been focusing on having fun alot more often. I have a bigger picture in mind.
The race started at 7:03 am and just after I crossed the starting mat I recognized the back-side of my friends James and Kaitlin. I weaved through the crowd to catch up to them. They were doing the full marathon. I considered running my race with them until we split off at the end, but ultimately decided after about a mile that I felt good enough that I wanted to go on alone and run a little faster.
The first 5 miles or so of the course are very flat, there are a few mild hills in the middle and a gradual downhill/flat finish.
I kept plugging along at what felt like a comfortable pace that I could maintain. I made quick walking stops at the water stations. The ground was covered in ice at the water stations and I saw several people slip, so I was careful to not try to run through the stations.
At about mile 8, I did the math in my head and realized that I was on target for a really decent finish. I had plenty of energy and at that point decided to start really racing. You can see the difference in my splits after that point…
8:29, 7:58, 7:49, 7:54, 8:01, 7:51, 8:05, 8:06, 7:34, 7:44, 7:25, 7:21, 7:24 and last .1 at 6:40 pace.
I realized in the last 2 miles that not only was I going to finish strong, I was going to be REALLY close to setting a new PR.
When I crossed the finish line the clock said 1:43:something … I knew I didn’t start right at the gun time, but I wasn’t sure at that point if I had beaten my PR of 1:42:12. I collected my medal and my finishers hat and found a place to sit, then I called my friend Eric from my cellphone that I always carry on me. I knew Eric had been watching me on the Live Tracking.
“What was my time?” … “1:42:20, you missed your PR by 8 seconds”.
I was so happy to have such a great race that I didn’t care. I’ve never run a Half at that speed and not felt bad at the end. Nothing hurt, no blisters, no soreness. I was really really happy!
Tim beat his PR by 2 minutes and finished in 2:25:00! Marsha and Mike made a “couples PR” of 1:57:47. Hilary finished in 1:54:16. James and Kaitlin finished the full marathon in 3:31:00, which qualified Kaitlin for Boston!
What an amazing race for all of my friends!
After taking a hot shower and warming up in the hotel we headed to Flip Burger Boutique with Mike and Marsha for lunch before heading home.
EAT ALL THE THINGS!
I ordered the Veg Burger, which was a black bean burger with avocado puree, bibb lettuce, grilled onions, pico de gallo, cilantro and lime juice. I also ordered the sweet potato tots and the fried B&B pickles.
The burger was good, the pickles were great and the tots were outstanding!
Tim got the Tuna Tartare Burger with the Truffle Mac & Cheese and French Fries.
I’m in love … or lust … I’m not sure which. But if Flip Burger is wrong I don’t want to be right. I’m already dreaming of the next trip!
Next up: Scenic City Half Marathon in Chattanooga, TN – February 25th.