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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Talladega Half Marathon Recap!

Be sure to read my post about our travel time to Talladega!

The night before the race I slept about the same way I always sleep before a race. I was restless. I was too excited to sleep! I woke up about 20 times lol! One of those times I just knew it was close to time to wake up so I looked at the clock...and it was only 3 AM! But finally my alarm (and Andy's alarm that was so loud and sounded like a fire alarm and scared me to death!!!) went off! It was go time!

It didn't take me long to get dressed. And it was fun experiencing race morning with my hubby! Especially since he was racing too! He was doing the 5K!

After several bathroom tries (yeah I just couldn't go and it was worrying me) it was time to go. Andy took the pre-race picture of me right outside our room!

Then Paige, Billy, Andy, and I all headed to meet our friends so we could follow them to the race track. We got there and it was more amazing than I imagined! The grandstands looked like they were packed with people! But it was just the seat colors!

We got to park in the infield. It was very organized and there were parking marshalls telling us where to park. We then headed towards the start area. They had coffee set up in the Pit Garage as well as real bathrooms in addition to the port a potties! We of course had to take our pre-race photos before the start!

Yeah...they wanted to do a goofy one lol!

Our friend Katrina was meeting us there. But she was having a bad morning. She texted us earlier that morning and said she forgot her running shoes!!! Oh no! So she headed to Wal-Mart and grabbed a pair that she thought would work. Unfortunately there weren't any vendors set up at the track that were selling shoes. So she had to make do with the ones she bought. She even had to buy socks since her running socks were in her shoes that she left at home!

And yes....she did finish the half in those shoes but she didn't come through it smoothly. She had several blisters when she was done. :-(

Before we knew it, it was time to head to the start line which was near turn 4 of the track. It was about a 5 minute walk from where we were.

The weather was perfect! It was 66 degrees at the start....I actually was a little cold before we started running! It was overcast too.

Our posed look!

Our muscles lol!

And our "mean" look....

...that had us laughing so hard!

And then of course I had to have my picture taken with the Pace Car!!!

And was time to start! My awesome hubby took pictures...and some video!

You can see us in the middle of the pack at the 0:50 mark in the video!

I wanted to start out slow so I would have the energy I needed to run strong the entire race. Katrina said she would stay with me as long as she could. I started at a 10:30 pace and got faster from there. The first 2 miles were on the track! It was so cool running on the Talladega Superspeedway! We ran at the bottom part of the track. The turns of the track were super steep! I took this picture by just holding the phone out in front of me. You can see how tall the actual turn was! It was crazy!

At mile 2 we left the track and started running on the upper track service road. So we were above the track looking down on it! It was a little scary if you are afraid of heights! We were right above turns 3 and 4 at that point. I could feel myself wanting to run faster at this point. Katrina told me to go I did.

Miles 3, 4, and 5 took us out by all the camping grounds at the speedway. It was really beautiful!

At mile 6 we turned onto Speedway Blvd. and headed back toward the race track. I tried to take a picture of the sign but I wasn't slowing down for it! I was on a mission!

Around mile 6.5 I saw a very steep hill ahead that would take us into the grandstands. I thought to myself that I may have to walk that hill. But I got to it and kept on running! No walking! Running through the grandstands was a lot of fun! And as were were running we could hear them announcing the first place finisher of the half!!! WOW!!!

Coming out of the grandstands we had to go down another very steep hill and then we went to the upper track service road by turns 1 and 2! Looking down at the track I could see other runners that were close to finishing. The upper track service road took us through mile 8 and then we ran through the grandstands on the other side of the track.

Mile 9 had us running on the lower track service road. I remembered looking down when I was on the upper track service road at mile 2.5 and seeing that 9 mile sign. I was now there!

The miles seemed to be flying by! I ran as fast as my legs wanted to run. Usually I make myself slow down but today I didn't. I was confident I would have the energy I needed to run strong at the finish. So I ran fast. And I passed people. And it felt AWESOME!

Around mile 9.5 we entered the tunnel under the track that lead us into the infield. It was super steep but I still didn't stop to walk!

Running in the infield was fun because you could see the track all around you!

In the infield I reached mile 10. I looked down at my Garmin at my time and was amazed! Remember my 10 mile run a few weeks ago that was super fast for me? I ran that one in 1:42. Well my Garmin said 1:35!!! So I was way ahead of schedule! I started thinking about what my finish time might be. Paige had predicted 2:07 and I thought there was no way. I was thinking I would finish around 2:10-2:15. But now I thought I might actually make 2:07!!!

Around mile 10.5 we were on our way to turn and run back on the race track. All of a sudden I heard my name. I looked up and saw Billy and my hubby standing there!!! It made me sooooo happy seeing them! They took several pictures and video as I ran by! :-)

Andy told me later that after he saw me here that he got so excited because he knew I had a shot at a sub 2! I had no clue I was so close. I was just trying to make it in 2:07.

I had just made it to mile 11 when I heard someone screaming my name! I looked up on the upper track service road and there were Paige and Donna!!! It gave me a push seeing and hearing them!

That's when I realized I could probably make 2:05! The last 2 miles (they were on the track) seemed a little tougher but I think it's because I knew I was almost there. When I reached mile 12 I thought to myself, "Ok I'm tired now." Lol! But I also knew I had the push in me to keep running. So I did. Once I saw the finish line I started sprinting! I passed the mile 13 sign and then I heard Andy cheering my name! That gave me the extra push I needed!

I DID IT!!! I PRed!!!! And it was a HUGE one! I PRed by 19 minutes!!!!! I couldn't believe it! My official time was 2:02:40!!!!!!!! I was in disbelief that I had come so close to a sub 2 half marathon! As soon as I crossed I headed towards Andy. Seeing him was so emotional for me. Here I had just run the race of my life and the person I wanted there the most was there! I could tell that he was so proud of me!

Not only was Andy there but my friend Penny and her daughter Koti were there too!!! She had said she was coming the day before. She was supposed to be there before the start. So I just assumed she didn't make it. But there she was! She had moved away years ago. But she only lived a few minutes away from Talladega so she came to see me run! It meant so much having her and Koti there!

We hung out at the finish line to see Katrina, Paige, and Donna finish. My legs felt like jello lol! They had never run so fast before!

Then we headed to Victory Lane to have our finisher pictures taken. As we were walking up I didn't see the lip of the sidewalk and I fell!!!! I mean I fell hard right onto the pavement. My knee, hand, and hip hit the ground but luckily it didn't break the skin. I was MORTIFIED! But I kept the smile on my face and took those pictures lol!

Here are all our men who raced!

And all of us (minus Katrina who had to get back to her hotel to check out)!

And yeah...I'm not sure what me and Paige were doing here lol!

After pictures we headed to the post race party in the Pit Garage! They were serving Jim 'N Nick's BBQ! I had sooo earned that pulled pork sandwich! And it was delicious!!!

One thing I LOVED about this race and the after party....they had tables and chairs set up so we could SIT DOWN and eat!!!! I've been to so many races where you have food but you have to stand to eat it. And on really sore running legs that is not fun! It felt so good to sit down!

After we ate we found where the official times were posted! I quickly went to check mine! I was soooo excited about my time!

Pretty awesome! This race was amazing! I thought I would get bored on the course since it was all on the Talladega Superspeedway property. But I didn't! There was always something new to see. And I LOVED that every part of the course there was music playing! The water stops were plentiful. Every one had water and powerade. Since this was my first race without a hydration belt I relied on those water stops. And they didn't fail me! This race even had GU at miles 2.5, 6.5, and 10.5 if you needed it!

If you ever get a chance to run the Talladega Half it! I highly recommend it! And how cool is it to be able to say that you have run on the Talladega Superspeedway??!!

QOTD: Have you ever PRed by a lot more than you expected?



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