Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Race Recap: Centerpoint Half Marathon

Last weekend, I challenged my first "double"... running two half-marathons in two states in one weekend. Some call it crazy. LJ calls it budget-efficient. I call it FUN!  It felt like Spring Break for this mother runner.  I left the hubby, kids and most importantly, the cold Illinois weather at home.  I flew solo into Atlanta, went to the Publix Georgia race expo (for Sunday's race) and quickly hit the road for my Saturday race in Alabama... the Centerpoint Half Marathon. Unlike the minivan I've driven for a decade, my rental was a little silver bullet. I felt pretty darn cool cruising down the interstate, window rolled down, music rocking, in a tank top with the glorious Southern sun shining down on me... I was in 7th heaven and no one could wipe the smile off my face.

I arrived in Prattville, AL on Friday late afternoon and headed straight to the Centerpoint Half packet pickup. It's a fairly small event (in comparison to the Georgia Publix), so there was no expo per say, but I had a nice time chatting with the race coordinators. They were so nice and genuinely excited for me to be there. The half marathon (and 5k) is organized by the Centerpoint Fellowship Church and benefits a charity called Stella's Voice, as well as the Centerpoint International Missions.

I'm not really sure how I stumbled across this event, but sure am glad I did.  I found everything to be organized expertly, but it had a unique warmth to it that you don't find at larger races. When I arrived a half hour before start time on Saturday morning, I was one of the early birds. It was dark and slightly cool on my bare arms. I warmed up comfortably with a slow jog and some stretches... and chatted with some locals (I got to meet Amanda, who was also doing the AL-GA double!).  We lined up behind the starting line, where I fell into conversation with Kelli from North Carolina.

New friends I met in Alabama... Amanda, Kelli and Barbara!

By 7am, the sun was shining over the horizon and it was simply a perfect morning to run. The race started with a nice prayer, which I personally loved since running has become a time of prayer and reflection for me. I can't put into words what a beautiful charm this race had for me. Everyone was very gracious and supportive. There were a little over 200 runners in the half marathon, so congestion was never an issue. The start was easy and my first mile popped out at 8:55. Sweet! It felt good, but I told myself to back off. My goal was a smooth strong run, but no straining.

Mile 1 - 8:55
Mile 2 - 9:14
Mile 3 - 9:04
Mile 4 - 9:13
We entered some neighborhoods and I was quickly schooled that this wasn't the "flat" course that MapMyRun.com's elevation chart had showed me. Instead it was rolling hills that kinda reminded me of my own neighborhood. I was delighted to see some early signs of spring nature... the number of blooming dogwood trees had me smiling all morning (my whole trip in fact).

Mile 5 - 8:59
Mile 6 - 9:12
Mile 7 - 9:20
The course continued to wind through neighborhoods and we had several loop spots where we passed other runners (in front and behind). I always like those for support and banter between runners... especially in these smaller races.  The local crowd support was nice - lots of families sitting out in their front lawns to watch the "parade". I loved seeing several dads with a bunch of kids and then a "Go Mom" sign... made me miss my own cheering crew. There were water stations throughout the course - many in creative theme costumes, lots of kids and volunteer photographers.

Mile 8 - 9:20
Mile 9 - 9:22
I was starting to get tired with the low-9 pace, and my quads were starting to feel the rolling elevation. I had a little conversation with myself and started to back off. I had another race the next day... that I knew would be many more hills. So I made my first stop for water.

Mile 10 - 9:30
Mile 11 - 9:36
Mile 12 - 9:35
Mile 13 - 9:32
Right before the Mile 10 marker, I saw a brief glance of the finish area... but we turned and wound through some more neighborhoods. Eventually, we hit a little park trail, where I slowed to walk up the hill. Finally, I saw and heard the finish line area once again. I felt good coming in and pleased to complete the first of the double. As I crossed under the finish arch, I was happy with a well executed training run. And then I glanced at my watch... 2:00:05. What?! Seriously, to be so close to a sub-2 and not even know it. I was instantly upset with myself. Later, I realized I forgot to turn the auto pause off on the Garmin, so I wasn't quite as close as I thought. Still...

Alabama - State #11
Official Chip Time  2:00:41
9:13 avg pace
Division #5 out of 14 

There was a nice post-party afterward with families sprawled across the grass, listening to the live band and gobbling up a nice spread of food. I'm kinda lazy about stretching after races, but today I made a point to relax in the grass and stretch myself out real good. I was careful about what I ate and immediately began rehydrating in preparation for Georgia the next day.


Thank you Alabama! 
I had a great run in State #11 on my quest to Race All 50.


18 comments:

  1. What a great race and atmosphere! Wishing I could have done AL with you...

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  2. Fantastic race report! I, too, love small races. They have a charm that big races just don't. Congrats on your doubler! Can't wait to read about GA. :)

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  3. Wow what an inspiration you are!!! thank you

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  4. your recaps are so informative on the background of the race--- love that you accurately depicted the southern charm of this one. KILLER Day 1 of double header... now how many more are you going to add to your schedule ;)

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  5. I should have jumped on AL with you too! What a fun race - something I certainly love about running small, local races in the south. You certainly feel the love.

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  6. Sounds like a fabulous race!

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  7. Great recap! Love all the pics along the route!

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  8. Awesome! Great job!

    Sarah
    www.thinfluenced.com

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  9. whew I feel like I can't keep up with all your races because you rock through them so effortlessly!! :) Yeah for another fun day of running

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  10. Very cool! I would like to try that sometime. I think it'd be hard but could definitely be done. I'm totally flabbergasted by those who've done two FULL marathons in one weekend. Now that...I do NOT want to try!~

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  11. Love small races! Yay, Jess! The weather looks amazing too.

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  12. Great job! I would love to find some smaller halfs to run - it sounds like it would be a nice change of pace!

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  13. Sounds like you had a wonderful time! I'm so happy for you!

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  14. Great job Jess! I'm so glad you had such a wonderful race in my state. Wish I could have worked it out to run this race. I've heard lots of good things about it.

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I appreciate your feedback and comments!