Marathons: Paul #32, Leah #22, State #17 : Mercedes Marathon 2014
16th February 2014, Birmingham, Alabama, USA
Finish Time = 3:44:28
It was great to get away to another Southern State during the winter months. Alabama was definitely not as warm as Louisiana but the weather was good for running, the sun was out but it stayed cool.
We changed our flight plans at the last minute to avoid problems in Atlanta from an ice storm and flew an indirect route into Birmingham which meant we got in later. We made it to the Expo to pick up our running bibs with only 2 hours to spare (there was no race day pickup allowed either) and then had to go straight to the pasta dinner we’d booked tickets for, and had forgotten about. One of the problems with booking so many races!
At the pasta dinner we were talking to a local who told us that “…although the town is getting better, I wouldn’t recommend you go walking around once it’s dark”. Towards the end of the dinner it was getting dark and we had a walk to our hotel so we made a move. One of the downsides of not having ingrained knowledge of the US is I find races in States we need that work with our schedule, but don’t really know much about the cities themselves. I did get a few funny looks from people when I told them we were running in Birmingham Alabama, and I guess from the pasta dinner conversation I realised why. According to Forbes, Birmingham is the 5th most dangerous city in the US.. who knew? Well, I didn’t for sure.
On the morning of the race our hotel wouldn’t give us a late check out, meaning we had to be out by 11am. With a race start of 7am we were on a pretty tight timeline!
Safety in Numbers?
The marathon was a 2 lap course through Birmingham city. The first lap was run with the half-marathoners and the second lap obviously just the marathoners. It wasn’t the most interesting or scenic of courses and the crowd / supporters didn’t seem as friendly as Louisiana. The start of the race went through a neighbourhood that you probably wouldn’t be able to go through on foot normally. It was the kind of thing I’d only ever seen in American films. There was also a lot of uneven road and 6 miles in I almost went over on my ankle which caused a lot of pain. We stuck with the 3:45 pacer which got us used to a quick pace from the start. After that we just ran at what felt natural and actually ended up running much quicker than we had expected to or were trying to run. It was one of those runs that didn’t even really feel like much of an effort!
We crossed the finish line with a fist-bump in 3:44:28 and felt much better than at other marathons where we’ve finished slightly slower. By this time it was 10:44am. We ran through the finish, grabbed our medals and a bottle of water and then carried on towards the hotel! Within 20 minutes we were showered and changed and back in our car. We drove straight to the airport and managed to re-book on an earlier flight back to Denver, getting us back home 5 hours before we had anticipated and full night’s sleep before work the next day, which we weren’t expecting. Fantastic result!
We did have some time at Birmingham airport to have a traditional Southern style pulled chicken BBQ sandwich for lunch and we actually ended up doing all our cool-down stretches in the airport gate area. We’re past caring what it looks like to everyone else!
All in all it was another great weekend and another State completed. While we weren’t too keen on the stressful “in and out” approach to this one, it was necessary to make the times work and to fit around our work schedules.
Elevation Graph from my running watch:
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