The moment you realize that you are in pretty dang good shape… Finishing a half marathon in 1:57 after taking a WHOLE month off from running!
Wow, ok it was a good run for me. Not record breaking good, but feeling great about myself good. I think I might have strained my hip flexor, but other than that I’m just feeling the normal post-race soreness. OK onto the race review!
Race Review: Mercedes Benz Half Marathon
Feb 17th, 2013
I really had pretty low expectations going into this race for a few reasons. 1) I hadn’t heard great things about Birmingham. 2) it was a pretty small event and the course was hilly! Much to my surprise I thought it was a nicely run event.
The expo was very small and underwhelming but you could tell that there was a lot of Birmingham pride there. For what they lacked in running vendors (seriously no power gels, bars or race day energy of any kind were sold there!) they made up for with free soda, water, popcorn and the overall kindness of the people.
Brittany and I posing with our race bibs…
The race started at 7 AM sharp and we were lucky to grab a hotel room 3 blocks from the start. Make sure to book your room in advance because they sell out. Pretty much the whole downtown was taken over by the 11,000 runners participating in the race!
Also be prepared for quick changes in elevation! I feel like there were NO FLATS on the entire course! Below is an iPhone picture of the course elevation.
Pre-race photo checking out the start!
Miles 1-4: These miles were pretty uneventful as you get started through the business part of downtown. Lots of zig zagging during these miles so I easily got lost! Water stops were every 2 miles or so at the beginning but became more frequent in the later miles.
Mile 4-8: Luckily since the course was still zig zagging you couldn’t see too far ahead so you didn’t every know when the climb would stop. Fortunately for every climb there was a nice downhill to recover. There were no bands along the course but a nice amount of people out cheering us on. As we headed to five points (the hot spot in town) the crowds definitely got better.
I snapped a couple of pictures as we headed up into the beautiful residential areas. Sorry the lighting is bad.
Mile 9: Best mile ever! Mostly all downhill. Great for a quick mile and boosting confidence
Miles 10-13.1: The last couple of miles of the course are run through the beautiful residential area south of the city. It is loaded with winding roads. I really enjoyed this part of the race! Still the course was very choppy so prepare yourself for long steady climbs late in the race. After the downhill at mile 9 my legs felt funny tackling the hills at first.
I caught up with Brittany right around mile 12 as we headed back to the city center for the finish.
The full marathon runners and half runner split at this point so the full runners can loop back around another time… NO THANK YOU! I’m not a fan of double loop courses.
The last half mile of the race is mostly uphill but there was a lot of energy from the race announcers and the crowds so I was able to push over it. I could imagine that for most people this is a hard finish.
My friend Brittany setting a new PR!
The Finish: The finish shoot was nice but the post finish athletes area felt very tight. They handed out plenty of water, poweraid, apples and bananas but that was all I saw. I usually like something salty or a bit of a simple carb at the end of my race. There was a nice family meet up grassy area where you could stretch and relax. It was too cold for us to hang around so we hightailed it out of there!
Cons: Small Expo (make sure to come prepared with all your gear), very hilly, not much race entertainment, not many hotel options.
The awesome medals and nice shirts!
I would recommend this race more for locals or people who like interesting medals. A nice race for a fun girls or guys weekend.
Have you ever ran a race in Alabama?