I was very excited for this race and have been looking forward to it since I registered several months back. Last year I ran in the Inaugural Tuscaloosa Half Marathon, be sure to read my recap from the 2013 event.
The weather was looking to be much better than the frigid temperatures of the year before and I was ready to take full advantage of it. In my mind I was focused on working to push a 1:30:00 finish. I arrived in Tuscaloosa Friday night and slipped in to pick up my bib just as they were starting to pack things up for the night. After my bib was secured I went to watch the University of Alabama Women’s Gymnastics take on Stanford, then we had dinner with my friend Tiffany at the Mellow Mushroom. (Always on my dinner list in Tuscaloosa) before driving to Birmingham where we were staying for the night.
Saturday morning I awoke for the race and drove to Tuscaloosa, found a Dunkin Donuts for my race day pick me up and walked out to the starting area by the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater. After a warm up I made my way to the start line.
I knew there were a lot of route changes this year but there turned out to be far more than I expected. This race ran all around and through the University of Alabama. #rolltide. We started in the downtown area of Tuscaloosa and around Mile 4.5 found our way onto Bryant Dr. running past the iconic Rammer Jammer restaurant and Bryant Denny Stadium. We wrapped back around to University Dr. where we had to run on the sidewalk for a little bit. I’m not thrilled with sidewalk running in a race, but it was very wide and spacious. I was running 3 wide talking with a few runners. After circling around the campus for a couple miles we faced the hill in front of the student union. When I realized where we were on campus I knew it was coming just before I turned the corner and saw it. It’s a beast to run, it’s a beast to walk. At this point I was just over a minute off total pace, but still felt strong and was pushing as long as I could hold on for.
It wasn’t until Mile 9-10 when I recognized the course from last year. I knew exactly what was left and exactly what to expect from this point on and was ready to red-line it through the last 5k. Unfortunately, my body didn’t feel the same way. Once I hit mile 10.25 I felt my heart rate spike and was in desperate need of water. Water that didn’t come for almost 2 more miles. I fell off pace and tried to keep moving as quickly as I could running down the riverfront. When I made it to the water station I took longer than normal to stop and drink. When I felt satisfied I thanked the volunteers and wasn’t stopping until I crossed the finish line. It was a great feeling coming up to the amphitheater and seeing the finish line. I even saw Mandi King in the crowd as I came around the last turn.
Last year I ran the race with a friend and stuck by her side the entire race, finishing in 2:56:46. This year, I missed my 1:30 goal was thrilled to cross the finish line and set a new half marathon PR at 1:33:28 finishing 42nd overall and 9th in my age group! (This breaks my previous 1:35:01 PR set earlier this year in Los Angeles, CA at the New Year’s Race).
The post race event was fun. There was good music, good bbq, and good ice cream; always a winning combination. I even got the chance to snap a few pictures with Big Al!
Overall a great event put on in Tuscaloosa and one that I will continue to run in the future.