Monday, October 14, 2013

Believing in Unicorns – The Montgomery Half Marathon Recap

October 12, 2013mhm_logo
This race was actually suggested to me by my husband.  He has “new to him” family in Montgomery so it would be a good opportunity to meet them while we were down there.
This was the 5th year for the race and it offers a 5K as well.  I paid $60 as the entry fee and if I remember correctly, that was before any price increase.
The drive down there was going to be longer than I originally anticipated so we left the house at 6:30AM Friday morning.  We certainly weren’t synced up with our schedules and made A LOT of stops.  But the best stop at the Welcome Center just inside the Alabama border to see the rocket.  Luckily they also have a “State Sign” because I was unable to capture a picture of the one along side the highway.
We arrived in Montgomery around 3:30pm local time.  It was nice to pick up an hour.  We checked in to the hotel and unpacked some of our stuff before walking over to the packet pickup area.  The Renaissance was the host hotel and I had to keep checking back to get the race rate but it ended up being worth.  Actually I think I got it for even less than the race rate.  This hotel was 1/2 block from the start line and 1 1/2 blocks from the finish area.  BOOM!
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Packet pickup was located the Montgomery Riverwalk Stadium – home to the AA Baseball Team, the Biscuits.  They are the farm team for the Tampa Bay Rays.  This would also be where we finished as well.  Getting our packets was easy peasy.  Since my husband wasn’t going to be ale to run (Exertion Compression Syndrome in his left calf), he signed up on site to volunteer at the Finish Line. 
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When we were initially up in our room I noticed that there was some sort of firefighters event going on across the road.  So after we got our packets, we dropped them off in the room and then went over to check it out.
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View from our room
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The competition consisted of firefighters wearing "full bunker gear" and the Scott 5.5 Air-Pak breathing apparatus, pairs of competitors race head-to-head as they simulate the physical demands of real-life firefighting by performing a linked series of five tasks including climbing the 5-story tower, hoisting, chopping, dragging hoses and rescuing a life-sized, 175 lb. "victim" as they race against themselves, their opponent and the clock.  (Source)  It was pretty incredible to watch.  The following picture is of a firefighter that had been declared dead for 18 minutes but was resuscitated.  He did not do the tower climb but did the second half of the course.  Amazing! 2013, 10-11 (22) After watching several “heats” we decided to walk around and go check out the Riverfront.  But before leaving, I was able to get this shot and posted it on Facebook for all of my female friends.  It certainly got a lot of LIKES!
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There wasn’t much going on down by the river but it was nice to walk around.
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After walking around for awhile we decided to go ahead and get some dinner.  I’d found 3 Applebee’s options in the city and the hotel guided us to the closest one.  The usual 3 cheese penne pasta was what I ordered. #respectthestreak.
It was back to the hotel and then we decided to walk around downtown a little more but not much was going on.  So I suggested that we go to the hotel bar so my husband could continue his Volunteer Carb Loading by drinking Michelob Ultra.  NASCAR was on TV, not much going on in the bar but then all of a sudden the guy a couple seats over says, “Hey, isn’t that Gregg Allman?”  At first my husband didn’t think it was; he thought he looked too short but then the guy mentioned that Allman was playing in the theatre in the hotel.  So we hurried over and I asked him if he would take a picture with my husband.  He agreed but said we had to make it quick.  We were the only ones that got a photo.  My husband was STOKED!!!
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We certainly ended the evening on a high note but alas, it was time to go to bed.
I set the alarm for 5:15AM.  My husband asked me to wake him up at 6:00AM.  Temperatures were perfect to start but it looked like it would be heating up quickly.
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The race started on time and it wasn’t long before we were running up hill. (Sadly, I can’t bring up the elevation profile anymore to post).  It seemed like we would run uphill, then there was a slight downhill, then back uphill, then slightly downhill and then uphill again before it leveled off.  Just after the 2 mile marker, there was a group of kids jumping rope.
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We then ran through was Oak Park.  It didn’t look very big but it was nice.  It was also the first time I saw – The Unicorn!
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The unicorn appeared again as we were exiting the park.
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We then headed to Alabama State University.  This area had some hills as well.  Their drum line and some cheerleaders were the entertainment here and they did a great job.
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Next we ran through the Huntington College campus. 
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I only saw one house decorated for Halloween.  And this guy was usually in front of me.  I liked the back of his shirt – No Excuses.
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Miles 7-9, had us running through a very nice neighborhood with some beautiful homes.  Had I looked at the water stop map, I would have noticed that there wouldn’t be one at mile 6 (although there was one at 2 and at 4) but that it would be here at mile 7 and then on the other side which would be mile 9.  I was then so confused where they would be the rest of the race. 
As I was told there would be…there was a hill that started just after the mile 10 marker.  The best part of this area was that someone had written in chalk on the road “your gym teacher would be so proud of you.”  I had my camera put away or I would have taken a picture.  This hill was tough and I walked up it about half way.  I was already drenched in sweat and wanted to save my legs for the last two miles.  We finally reach the last of the hills at mile 11.5.  One of the volunteers promised me that it was the last one!  After running past the Capital at mile 12, it really was running down hill.  I quickly sent my husband a text to let him know I was close.
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We entered Riverwalk Stadium from the east and my husband placed the medal around my next!  The mayor of Montgomery is down there and shakes each finisher’s hand.  I went back after getting some water and a little food and had my picture taken with him.
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Me and the Mayor
I got some food for my husband and he handed out a few more finishers medals before we headed back to the hotel.  I was pleased with my finishing time.  It was within my normal time frame even with all those hills.  They really need to place the water stops closer together as the course goes further along – they became 3 miles apart.  Overall, I would say this was a good race.
As we were leaving the stadium, they were getting ready to start the kids 1 mile run (they’d better be sending them up hill!).  I noticed that the Biscuits mascot was standing in the road.  So before the next wave of kids started I ran over & had my picture take with him.  Not sure “what” the character is/was – looked sort of like an aardvark.
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I saw the unicorn a total of 4 times out on the course and once again as we were leaving the finish line area.  It was finally with the person that it was “cheering” for.  And there was another group of people with some signs that I saw at least 3 times.  So this is obviously a very spectator friendly course.  And I think its great when family & friends do this for their athletes.  It really means a lot!  I’m hoping someday, I’ll have a sign waiting for me during a race.
It was good to get back to the hotel, shower and take a nap.  We had a full evening ahead of us.

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