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 - 9:20Mile 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 11 - 9:36
Mile 12 - 9:35
Mile 13 - 9:32Right 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.