Monday, November 23, 2015

Magic City Half Marathon

November 21, 2015
Packet Pick-Up

My friend Paula convinced me to sign up for the Magic City Half Marathon in Birmingham, AL. This was the 5th Annual Magic City Half benefitting the Ruben Studdard Foundation for the advancement of children in music arts. The race started and finished at Regions Field, the new home of the Birmingham Barons Baseball team.There were over 1,700 runners for the half marathon, 5K, and 1 Mile Fun Run.

Michael and I arrived in Birmingham at 12:30 on Saturday morning. We stayed at the Courtyard Marriot at UAB. It was within walking distance to the start/finish line and convenient to restaurants. We checked in early and grabbed a quick bite to eat for lunch. Michael was ticked because we didn't get the SEC Network at the hotel, so he couldn't watch the Bama game. He refused to go to a sports bar to watch it.

When Paula and her husband Mark arrived, I walked with them to packet pick up at Regions Field. Packet pick up was quick and easy. There were a few sponsors set up and some clearance merchandise from the Trak Shak.

Saturday night, Michael and I ordered Pizza Hut and watched other football games. I went to bed around 9:00, but I didn't sleep well. There were a lot of ambulance sirens being so close to UAB and Children's Hospital. Then, fireworks went off at Regions Field around 10:00. I tossed and turned most of the night.
November 22, 2015
Race Day

I got up at 5:30 to get ready. I ate my usual Belvita Biscuits and a banana for breakfast. I met Paula and Mark in the lobby around 7:15. The race started at 8:00 and we were just a short walk to Regions Field where the race started and finished. It was the coldest day we've had all fall with temps in the 30's, real feel in the 20's due to the wind chill. I ate a small bag of pretzels and drank my water as we walked to the start line.  There was a long line for the bathrooms in the stadium, so I used the porta potties outside of the stadium. The line began to form for the porta potties when I got out. I hit it at a good time.
It probably wasn't wise to sign up for a half marathon just two weeks out from my full at St.Jude. My plan was to treat this like a training run and have fun. I lined up between the 2:20-2:30 pace groups at the start.

They went over the course turn by turn. Then, they played the National Anthem and we were off. The first mile ran past Railroad park with beautiful trees, ponds, and nice views of the city.

I caught up to the 2:20 pacers within half a mile. There were a handful of runners sticking with this pace group, so I decided I would try to stick with them too. I thought it would help me maintain an easy pace. Miles 1-3 ran through downtown. At mile 3.5, we ran over the "Rumpshaker Bridge" and got a good view of downtown. 
Mile 1- 10:25
Mile 2- 10:14
Mile 3- 10:20

Just past mile 4 when we ran through this tunnel. Apparently, this used to be home to the original Welcome to the Magic City sign. The tunnel was dark and dreary. I feel like we ran faster through this part of the course.

Around mile 5 we ran past the Birmingham Museum of Art and Linn Park, home of Birmingham's main government buildings. I was still maintaining a consistent pace and sticking with the 2:20 pace group. I ran into Kristin from BamagirlRUNS at this point on the course and I struck up a conversation with her. She was really nice. We talked until we got to the water station around Mile 6.
Mile 4- 10:11
Mile 5- 10:01
Mile 6- 10:07
The race photographer captured a pic of me with Kristin

 Birmingham Museum of Art
I ate my Honey Stinger waffle at the halfway point. We began to make our way out of downtown Birmingham towards Legion Field. This part of the race was a down and back. We turned around at 9.5 miles at Rickwood Field, the original home of the Birmingham Barons.

Mile 7- 10:23
Mile 8- 10:33
Mile 9- 10:35
This part of the race brought back a lot of memories for me. When I was younger we came to Birmingham to watch the Barons play at the Hoover Met. It was neat to see their original stadium. We also came to Legion Field for a few Alabama football games.

Rickwood Field
Not the best picture into the sun
Legion Field
I stuck with the 2:20 pace group up until Mile 10. They were pacing a few minutes fast and decided to stop and walk to allow others to catch up. I walked several of the up hill climbs, but I still wound up getting ahead of the group. I felt good, so I kept going. We made our way back towards downtown in the final miles of the race.
Mile 10- 11:06
Mile 11- 10:12
Mile 12- 10:33

 One last view of the city before turning right toward Regions Field

The back of Regions Field
In the last half mile of the race "Happy" by Pharrell Williams came on my iPod. You may remember, that song played when I crossed the finish of my first marathon. Every time I hear that song it reminds me of my brother Raymond. He would have loved that song. I listened to Happy as I passed by Children's Hospital where Raymond received his cancer treatments. I thought about him a lot during this race, how much he loved the Bama games at Legion Field and the Baron's Baseball games.
I ran my last mile in 9:45. I guess I got a little carried away with the music and thinking about my brother. My finish time was 2:17:37. I ran a little faster than the 2:20-2:30 pace I originally planned to run. Although, I don't feel like I pushed it too much. I didn't feel completely depleted after the race.
I met Paula and Mark at the finish line and we snapped a few pictures.

I saw Kristin from BamagirlRUNS again at the finish and we took a quick picture. It's always fun meeting other bloggers at the races and it was so nice to meet her.

Overall this was a great race and I'm glad I ran it. There was plenty of support on the course with water stations every 2 miles and porta potties at several points along the course. There weren't a ton of spectators. I can't blame people for wanting to stay out of the wind and the cold. The ones that did spectate went all out with signs and cowbells.They didn't have a ton of stuff post race. They had some fruit, bagels, and craft beer. There was no post race entertainment that I noticed. Ruben was at the finish. I hate I missed him.
Michael was supposed to meet me at the finish line and I tried calling and texting him several times. Paula and Mark were getting ready to head back to the hotel and I didn't want to walk back by myself, so I took off with them. It was 11:00 and Michael should have been there by then. As soon as I left the stadium my phone rang. It was Michael. Apparently, he had been waiting in the stadium since 9:30 and he had tried to reach me. He didn't have any missed calls or texts and neither did I. Crazy!

I love the shirt design. They are a lightweight, super soft cotton. They offered Women Specific cut shirts. I always size up to a medium in women specific, but these ran super small. The mediums were all gone when I got to packet pick up, but the Large fits just right. I guess everyone had to go up in size. The medals are really nice and heavy weight metal.




  1. Great run! It looks like you are all set to go for your full in a couple of weeks!

  2. Thank you, Mike! It was nice to take this one easy and have fun!

  3. How awesome!! Even if the temps were cold, the sunshine always makes for a great day (in my opinion). I love all the pics you captured along the route ;-)

    1. The sunshine definitely helped warm things up a bit. It was a pretty day! I was really only chilly at the start and finish. Once I got going I was fine. I never take pictures on the course, but I thought since I was planning to take this one easy I would try to capture some pictures for my blog.

  4. Congrats on the finish!!! That's so awesome and i love that you just went with it :) It's nice to run without time pressure :)

    Popped over from the blog hop - finally catching up after a rough week last week :) Looking forward to following your marathon training - hopefully I'll get some inspiration to sign up for my next big race ;)

    1. Thank you for stopping by! The blog hop was a lot of fun!

  5. Sounds like a great race! It's always awesome when you run faster than you think you will without pushing the pace. Congratulations! Also, you take really fantastic photos while running!

    1. Thank you! I don't normally take pictures during races, but I figured since I was taking this was easy I should try to get some pics along the way.