Sunday was half marathon #8 for me, and my 3rd state in my quest for half marathons in each of the 50 states. It was at the Talladega Super Speedway and was an awesome experience! We got to the track and got to do through one of the tunnels under the track to the infield parking area. It was nice having all my guys there with me for the start – usually I leave them at the hotel and then they come a little later to catch me finishing, but our hotel was far enough away that there was no shuttle so we all went together. Before the race I got to meet a friend from our local Moms Run This Town group and that was nice to finally meet her after chatting online for several months. Pretty much the only thing that I think could have been better was more port-o-potties before the race. There were 7 and a couple thousand runners, plus family and friends of the runners.
I got to the start line after being stopped by a cross stitching friend I haven't seen in YEARS. Her sister was running and she was there supporting. It was nice to see her, although we really didn't get to chat much cuz I was on my way to the start. Soon the gun went off and we headed out – on the track, going down pit lane! Ryan, Robert, and Thomas were near the exit of pit lane and that was nice seeing them! We ran about 3/4 of the way around the track (on the apron – Talladega has 28 degree banking on the turns and that track is STEEP) and then headed out around the parking areas for a few miles. Eventually we made our way back to the track and ran around it, going under the grandstands. My Garmin didn't work super well under the main grandstand – I looked once and I was running at a 4:30/mile pace. Yeah right. I will NEVER be that fast. And then a few minutes later it showed I was at a 12:30 or so pace. I didn't change up my pace at all. But it all averaged out in the end. Once we had made a complete lap around the track under the stands, we entered the infield through the tunnel and made our way across the infield to the far side of the track. We came out near the finish line and then took one complete lap around the track to the finish. And there were my guys again cheering me on! When I was about at mile 12, Robert's 3rd grade teacher finished (they were announcing all the names as people finished) – Robert had been talking about mommy running at Talladega at school and it turned out that his teacher is also a runner and was running the same race!
The course was amazing. It was so much fun running on a NASCAR track, especially since we're such big NASCAR fans. There were water stops every mile and little signs with quotes from the movie "Talladega Nights" all along the course. Although there wasn't much crowd support along the course, it didn't really bother me since I'm pretty much a lone runner anyway. After I had finished and got my medal, we made our way to Victory Lane for our finisher photos, and then over to the post race party. We found Ms. M (Robert's teacher) and I talked to her for a bit and we took our picture together. Of course, all my pictures are still on my camera (it'll be interesting to see what all Ryan took pics of while I was running) so this one is the one that Ms. M took and emailed to me.
Oh, I suppose you want to know my finishing time, huh? Well, I am happy to say that I finished in 2:15:35, a new PR (personal record) by 9 minutes!! Now, for those of you that aren't runners, 9 minutes is a huge PR!! All my hard training paid off and I'm really happy with how I ran. And one more cool thing that you non-runners won't get. . . I got to meet and have a book (The Complete Idiots Guide to Running) signed by Bill Rodgers!! That was really cool meeting someone who has won the Boston Marathon 4 times!
And now on to the rest of my training for the Army Ten Miler. . .