I wanted to run the Tuscaloosa Half Marathon last year, but it didn't work out with my schedule. I was so excited for the opportunity to run it this year. This was my 2nd half in my streak of 4 half's in 28 days.
I made the trip to Tuscaloosa with my parents. My dad never passes up a chance to go to Tuscaloosa. We made the two hour drive after I got out of school on Friday afternoon. We stayed at the Springhill Suites just minutes from downtown. It was convenient to packet pick-up and the start/finish line at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater.
Packet pick-up and the expo was held in a large tent in the parking lot across from the Amphitheater. It was quick and easy. They had clearance merchandise from a local running store. I splurged on long sleeved, half zip running shirt with the Tuscaloosa Half logo and a pair of Tasc running shorts.
While I was browsing, Mom and Dad began debating on whether to sign up for the 5K. The more they talked I could sense the excitement in Mom's voice. She hasn't raced since St.Jude because she's still recovering from her hip injury. She's doing physical therapy and just got clearance from her doctor to begin easing back into walking and running slowly. Mom had tennis shoes, but she didn't pack any running clothes. Dad didn't have running clothes or tennis shoes. It didn't take much encouraging before they made their way to the registration table.
We grabbed a quick bite to eat at McAlister's deli just outside of downtown. All the restaurants were packed downtown and we still had to make a trip to Academy Sports for some running gear for Mom and Dad. Mom bought a t-shirt and capris and dad picked up some shorts and a pair of Asics for only $39.They were all set for race day.
We settled back into the hotel and I laid out my gear for race day. I had to represent the Tide at the Tuscaloosa Half.
We made the short drive downtown around 6:00. The half marathon started at 7:00 and the 5K started around 7:30. There was plenty of parking across from the amphitheater. The bathrooms were open inside the amphitheater, but there were also porta potties outside near the start line. It was cooler on race morning than I anticipated. I hung out with mom inside the bathrooms for a while because it was warm and there was no line. As usual my nerves were getting the best of me and I still had to use the porta potty before lining up at the start line.
Mom and Dad ready for the 5K
Brr...I was freezing!
I wished Mom and Dad good luck on the 5K before lining up at the start line. I looked all around for my friend Dee from back home. I finally spotted her lined up ahead of me. We chatted for a few minutes and took our usual pre race selfie. The race directors went over the course. They played the National Anthem. Then, we were off. I got a high five from Alabama's mascot, Big Al as I ran through the start line.
Dee and I at the start line
My hands were freezing the first few miles. I saw someone tossed some gloves to the side and I actually considered picking them up for myself but I passed. The first three miles ran along Jack Warner parkway with nice views of the riverwalk. My first two miles were even paced, but a few hills creeped up which slowed me down in the next two miles.
I ran into Vera and Kylie from Ainsley's Angels on the course around mile 4. You may remember Mom and I ran with Kylie at Ryan's Run in November. This was Kylie's 3rd time running the Tuscaloosa Half Marathon. I talked with Vera while I walked up the biggest hill on the course. Kylie and her running partner took off ahead of us.
Mile 1- 9:25
Mile 2- 9:27
Mile 3- 10:09
Mile 4- 11:12
We neared the campus around Mile 5. We ran past some fraternity houses on the right and the Million Dollar Band practice field on the left. I was so excited to finally reach the campus. Spectators were cheering Roll Tide when they saw me in my Bama gear. We passed Denny Chimes and the President's Mansion at Mile 6 on the course. The chimes were ringing when I ran past.
Mile 6 through 8 were down and back, so we saw all the best sites twice including Bryant Denny Stadium home of the Crimson Tide. I stopped to take pictures through the campus.
Mile 5- 9:38
Mile 6- 9:41
Mile 7- 10:05
Mile 8- 10:01
University of Alabama's President's Mansion
Bryant Denny Stadium
We passed the Sewell-Thomas Stadium, home of the Crimson Tide baseball team and Coleman Coliseum, where the basketball games and gymnastics competitions are held. Then, we made our way towards Bryant Drive along the back of Bryant Denny Stadium. We passed Rama Jama's located across from the stadium. This place is packed on game day. Their burgers are yummy!
The next mile ran through residential areas with nice older homes. There were some spectators in their front yards cheering for us as we ran past. My legs were starting to feel tired and I took several walk breaks at the point in the race. We made our way back towards downtown through Government Plaza around Mile 11. The crowd support picked up again. There was a drum line from a local school playing on a street corner. I was happy to be near the finish.
Mile 9- 9:58
Mile 10- 10:15
Mile 11- 10:20
As we neared Mile 12, volunteers warned of the steep downhill ahead and told us to be careful. I looked at it as an opportunity to pick up pace in the final mile. Boy was I wrong! About halfway down, the pounding on my knees was unbearable. The hill was so steep I couldn't safely slow my momentum unless I stopped to walk, so that's what I did.
We crossed the street and ran the final half mile on the sidewalks in Tuscaloosa River Walk park. There was a nice view of the waterfront. I sprinted when I made the final turn to the finish line. My official time was 2:12:50.
Mile 13- 10:15
The sun was out in full force when I finished. Even though I was freezing at the start of the race, I was glad I was wearing shorts at the finish. They had a nice post race party with live music and plenty of food and drinks. Some Alabama football players even came out to support this race.
I wanted to get a print out of my official result before we left. Dad asked me to check his and mom's result too. When she printed theirs, we noticed Dad placed first in his age division for the 5K. Mom and I were so proud of him. The awards were just getting ready to begin, so we stuck around for dad to get his medal. It's a good thing he signed up for the 5K after all.
I was so glad I got to spend the weekend with mom and dad. We had an awesome time! This is my new favorite half marathon. I loved running through the campus! Everything was so well organized from start to finish. The t-shirt and medal were also very nice.
The medal was engraved:
"Be strong when you are weak. Be brave when you are scared. Be humble when you are victorious."