Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Alabama Marathon

Outside the U.S. Space & Rocket Center
     My 25th Marathon overall, also my 18th state on my goal.  Was the Rocket City Marathon in Alabama.
First off, I love visiting the south!  There is just something different about the people who live there, I don't know why but I find them to be some of the nicest and friendliest people in the country.  Maybe it's the cute southern belle accent, whatever it is, I just enjoy visiting them!
Alabama kept my southerners friendliest people theory going, because they were just that!

The race course was relatively flat, in other words just small rolling hills throughout the 26.2 miles of the course.
The one thing I was looking forward to in this race was hearing the song "Sweet Home Alabama" play on the course.  Thanks to the Community Volunteers around mile 8.5, I didn't have to leave disappointed!
Fun course through cute neighborhoods, continuously turning corners and meandering through different areas.  This kept the course from getting boring.  The straightway portions between miles 10-14 were within view of some of Alabama's beautiful forested mountains.

     As for me, this was my 3rd Marathon in 36 days, and my body felt it.  I don't really recommend anyone try that unless of course you okay with being in a lot of pain and a healthy addiction to running helps:)
My current injury, hip bursitis screamed in pain for a lot of the course.  Imagine having several needles stuck in through the side of your hip and shoot in through your quad, that is how I felt step after step for a good portion of the race and then pretty much constant the last 8 miles.
     However, despite the pain and fatigue I did actually have a few really great miles that felt near effortless miles 11-14 particularly:)
I also had my 2nd best marathon time of the year, which was pretty cool since with this goal I can't worry about my time too much!  I knew I was going to finish and within the qualifying time (because I had already told myself that I refused not to) and I just dug deep and figured it was going to hurt regardless.  So I might as well see if I can run it a little faster and not prolong the pain any longer than I had too.
I may write of the pain, but don't get me wrong I loved the course and really enjoyed running my race!  If I didn't really enjoy it, I probably wouldn't continuously put myself through this.

     This was the first race that as I crossed the finish line a volunteer walked with me for a ways down the chute to make sure I didn't fall over or collapse (his words).  Granted because of my hip I was limping pretty bad, and my smile was probably replaced by a grimace from me telling myself to just accept the pain, you'll get to a bed shortly...  However, I choose to believe they did that for each runner who crossed the finish line, although I don't remember too much about it and I didn't think to look around to see if they sent a volunteer along with everyone else.
I was kind of one track minded at that point, I knew I had a mile more to walk to get to my rental car, and I was just SOOO looking forward to getting off my legs for a bit.

U.S. Space & Rocket Center
     This was a full Marathon only race (which I loved) and it's also a smaller town race.  I believe there were around 1,500 runners.  However, the organization and volunteers were above and beyond what you would expect from a smaller marathon race.  Everything ran smoothly from the friendly and helpful volunteers at the expo, to the many who stood the long hours on the course providing snacks and drinks.  I also have to give a shout out to their police department who also spent several hours of their day standing and blocking and directing traffic so that the runners could have full right away.  You would think with the stress of dealing with drivers who wanted to get through the closed streets they would be grumpy, but they were not.  Every officer was just as friendly and cheered us on as much as the volunteers.  At no point did I ever feel that I wasn't completely welcome in their state and on the course.

     That night after the marathon I went out sightseeing, I had seen signs about a luminary tour through the historic Twickenham during the race.  Here there are actually more historic late 1800's Antebellum homes than any other area's in Alabama.  They do this for one night each year, and lucky for me it happened to be when I was visiting.
     Plantation, Federal Style, Victorian, Carpenter Gothic style homes and more.  Picture miles and miles of 100's of candle lit bags every five or so feet lining up and down an entire historic city.  Beautiful homes some literally dripping with the money that the owners evidently had plenty off.  Very classy Christmas decorations, statues and large black fire lit lanterns.  Pine garlands wrapping pillars, wreaths, and lots of professionally done yard lighting with small touches of white Christmas lights to decorated their homes and yards.
     One of the most amazing and largest Christmas light exhibits I've ever seen.  You could tour by foot too, I saw butlers dressed up fancy to invite passersby into the gorgeous historic homes probably to tell the homes story.  I swear some of them looked like they had 30 or more rooms just from the front.
I was too tired to go by foot and I could see more from my rental car:)  All the homeowners had all their curtains drawn wide open so you could see right into their magnificent homes.  It took me almost 2 hours driving around to see the majority of the historic city.
One fun thing was many of the owners had convertibles fancy porches, BMW's that they each decorate up in Christmas lights and other displays.  (You almost have to see it to understand) But they drove around as a train, tops down and all wishing everyone a Merry Christmas to show off their lite up convertibles.  One lady in the tour told me "Y'all hop on the back and we'll show you some real fun."  It was fun, I followed for a little while.
Absolutely beautiful and aside from the race the next most favorite thing I did in Alabama.  Sadly I didn't take pictures, I'll be kicking my self for a while for not doing so...
U.S. Space & Rocket Center
     Overall this past year has been more than I could have imagined I would accomplish.  In one year I have ran 14 Marathon's.  I can't believe my body let me get away with all of those to be honest!
I've met several GREAT new running friends on my travels.  I have visited some amazing places, and seen some beautiful country, America really is a beautiful place to explore with a lot of great people! 
My marathon travels this year have taken me through several lush beautiful pine and maple forests, granite cliff side coastal views, Smoky Mountains, Magnificent Waterfalls, Sandy Beaches at Sunset, a view from the top of the tallest mountain in the USA (Mt. McKinley), Desert Plains, Rolling Green Acres, Walking on Glaciers over 4000 feet deep in ice, NY Time Square to Amish Country.  Wildlife galore, Grizzly & Black Bear, Wild Orca's, Humpbacks, Seals, Buffalo, Caribou, Desert Bighorn, Armadillo's, Eagles just to name a few of what I saw.
This year alone I have visited 14 National Parks and loved the beauty of each and everyone of them!

I already can't wait for 2012, I already know it will be amazing and I am really looking forward to seeing more of America as I work on my goal of running a full marathon in each 50 state plus D.C.
Now, I need to put a little effort in getting my novel ready to go to a publisher, fingers crossed that I will be able to get it ready to go before the end of January:)

Hope all of my readers have a Very Merry Christmas, and I hope you are all enjoying everything life has to offer!

4 comments :

  1. I'm so glad you felt so welcome in Huntsville and enjoyed the race so much! I can't wait to run this race for my first marathon. I've heard nothing but good things about the course, volunteers, etc.

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    1. Yes I LOVED Huntsville, it was one of those places I can for sure see myself returning to visit!
      This is a GREAT race for your first marathon, the people who run it do a great job, you will not be disappointed!! Good luck in your race!!!

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  2. Glad that people welcomed you and made y'all feel at home, here in Alabama. I moved over here (to the Decatur area) from Mississippi a couple years ago, and I must say that the people in Alabama are alot nicer and more friendly.
    Ironically, I haven't been to the Huntsville Space Center in 20 years. Thanks for the nice pictures.

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    1. I love visiting the south, and I loved Alabama! Hope I get to come back oneday soon!!! You'll have to get over to the space center one day!

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