Suz's love for COWS + Allan's work with LASERS = one unique blog name! Welcome to our blog filled with race recaps, pictures of our labs, and everything else we share with blogland!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Talladega Half Marathon

This time there will be no good, bad, and ugly but instead there will be a story. I have a feeling this post is going to be wordy but I promise it's worth taking the time to read. I set my alarm for 3:00 AM on Sunday in order to drive to Talladega, pick up my race packet, and be ready to race. I arrived before 6:00 AM and waited in line outside the race track to get in.

You know you are up too early when it's still dark when you get to where you are going
Once inside I made my way to packet pickup and then got ready for the race. At this point I wasn't feeling really good but I figured it was probably from sleeping for less than 5 hours and then driving for nearly 3 hours so I dismissed it. I met a friend who ran her first half marathon on Sunday and I hope I was able to calm her nerves by assuring her she would do fine and giving her some pointers. We started the race together and I intended to run with her and pace her to finish at around 2:30. 

Getting ready for the start
We ran a quick first couple of miles around the track and reached the second aid station (the first with bathrooms). I peeled off, wished her luck, and told her I would try to catch up. I have been very fortunate to never need to use the bathroom during a race but I made up for it during this one. I had to stop again at the next three aid stations and by mile 5 walking with brief spurts of running was all my body was willing to put up with. Lesson learned: no more waking up at 3 AM for races EVER!

This was before mile 5
I kept up this run/mostly walk pattern as we entered the track area again. I sprinted up a hill leading up to the area above the track that we would run around next. Once I ran along the covered area pictured below and came out on the loop above the track I saw an older man having some issues with his socks and shoes. I stopped to see if he was ok and he told me he was getting a blister and that he had hit a wall. This was around mile 7 or 8. I thought I would walk with him awhile and then start my run/walk pattern again.






This sweet man (who will remain nameless) is going to be the same age this year as my grandfather was when he passed away and I nearly cried when he told me his age. He talked to me about his family and his life and told me he had lived a long, happy life. I mostly listened and occasionally shared a few things about myself. I couldn't bear to leave him and he couldn't run anymore so I walked the rest of the half with this man. It's the first time I've never sprinted to the finish but it didn't feel right to take off and leave him when the time came.

I can't even imagine driving around this track!
Sometimes a race isn't about the time on the clock at the end or even the miles you run versus the miles you walk. On this day it was about living a moment with a stranger that I'll never have with my own grandparents. I hope his grandchildren take the time to run races with him before they no longer have the chance. While I placed last in my age group my new friend took home third in his and will add to his collection of awards from running over the years. For awhile during the race I thought I might be ashamed of my finishing time which I knew would be more than three hours but I'm not. No matter how many more races I run I'll cherish every minute and every mile of this one.

We drove in through here to park in the morning and ran through the tunnel during the race
I'll take my 3:11:23 finish time and be proud of it. Now to shift things and give you guys my opinion of the race itself. The course itself is not scenic but if the idea of running at a Nascar track appeals to you then this is a good one to cross off your list. I'm glad I raced it but I won't run this one again. The lady operating the microphone was incredibly annoying and she alone is reason enough for me to not run this again since her voice can be heard during all but a few miles of the race. She announced every single person that crossed the finish line and added her own little comments in here and there that I couldn't stand!

It's incredibly cruel to be up here and see people running through to the finish when you still have MILES to go
The shirt is highlighter orange. Now I love orange but this one is a little over the top. It is super comfy and comfort scores big points with me so I wore it yesterday. Allan says it attracts lots of attention and as he pointed out to me yesterday at Firehouse Subs, "All these guys are staring at you and I can't tell if it's because your shirt is so bright or because your shorts are so short." In my defense, these are the clothes I slept in and I left the house thinking we were only going to the airport and not to the office, Firehouse, and then the airport. Be grateful that I'm not posting a picture of what my hair looks like after sleeping on it for 12 hours!


The only other swag worth mentioning was a sample size of deodorant, a koozie, and a pen
Have you run at a race track before? If so, which one?
What you have you learned from a "slow" race?

35 comments:

  1. I think a race track race sounds dull, but one of those to do at least once. :) How awesome of you to stay with tha guy. I think you made a great choice to finish the even with him.

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  2. Great report! I do so many races that I learned a long time ago that they all can't (and shouldn't) be PRs. It's nice to do a race and not care about your finish time. How nice of you to walk with that man! I bet he really appreciated it. I plan to do the Indy 500 Half this coming May. It only goes around the track once (about 2.5 miles), so I don't think it will be too boring. I was looking at doing the Talladega 21000 this year, but it fell on the same day as my longest run for Chicago. Then I looked at the course map and thought that running multiple loops around the track would be torture, so I saved my money.

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  3. Great report and even better swag! I think I would of enjoyed that run...

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  4. that is a freaking bright color of orange! I love orange also but holy moly!

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  5. I just ran the Color Me Rad 5K which looped the Fontana Speedway in California. We did not have the annoying lady on the microphone and the distance was much shorter so it was bearable and was a fun run. Congratulations on finishing and it looks like you learned a lot from this race. Sorry that you did not have a better experience but I am proud of you for finishing!

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  6. Love the story!! Did you get a pic with the guy you walked with?? That is so sweet.

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  7. LOVE THIS!!! I had a similar experience. BUT, I was on the receiving end!!! At mile 10 I hit a wall, and for some reason my legs did not want to move. I was crying and this wonderful young lady came up beside me and talked me across the finish line. You have an extra star in your crown!!

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  8. What a great race story! Sometimes the story makes up for the slower-than-expected time!

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  9. Loved the story, made me cry. Kudos to you for finishing with the older gentleman. I admire you!

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  10. LOVE this story. It's not the destination, it's the journey! It's easy to get caught up in competition (with ourselves or with others), so moments like this remind us all that we're all part of the HUMAN race. We need more good people like you!

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  11. What a great race report! You are an amazing person for walking the rest of the race with that man, I'm sure he really appreciated it and enjoyed your company. Sometimes you just have to let go and enjoy the moment, which you did!

    The shirt is really really bright! Wow! Not sure I would like a race that goes around a track, but maybe I would do one someday.

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  12. Proof of what an amazing young woman you are Suz. Well done.

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  13. some races it's not about the time you run, it's about the time you have WHILE running. Well done, you'll remember this race forever.

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  14. What a sweet story! You are so caring and thoughtful :) Love this! And you go girl - two halfs in a row, that's impressive! See you Friday!

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  15. oh yes, the NC 1/2 marathon and i wouldn’t run it again. i got bored. the bling was cool though. i LOVE that you did this and took the focus off of you and you learned. what a cool experience that you won’t forget. on my more “relaxed” races-i have been able to take it all in and enjoy the scenery and my company on the run.

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  16. Oh my gosh Suz I totally teared up reading this! Congratulations on finishing another half marathon, who cares what the time was! I think I would probably have felt the same way getting up at 3am, I always need my sleep.
    There are a few older men that run alot of the races in downtown Charlotte and I see them on a regular basis and am always inspired by their running!

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  17. Super sweet story -- and I couldn't help but end in laughter when you described the MC -- I can't stand chatty MC's, definitely annoying!

    Also, I don't want to sound like anymore of a running diva than I already probably am, but seriously... I don't think I'd wake up 3AM for ANYTHING let alone a race... you go girl:)

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  18. What a lovely story - you are so gracious to have given up your RACE to help someone else achieve his. He will never forget you and your kindness.

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  19. I LOVE this story!!! What an amazing experience you were able to have!!! I'm sure it was just as special to him as it was to you!

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  20. What a wonderful story. And a wonderful experience. I also can't believe that you got up at 3AM and drove 3 hours for a race - holy moly!!!

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  21. I love this! You are so amazing. :) Sometimes it really isn't about the time on the clock, it's really about the work you did and that you accomplished something you set out to do! Great job!!

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  22. Running slow isn't always a bad thing- you get to enjoy more scenery, talk to more people, do more thinking. I didn't really 'get it' until I did a few ultras and realized those runners don't care so much about a time on a clock, they care more about camaraderie and enjoying the sport. Glad you were able to enjoy your race!

    I ran a half marathon at the Charlotte Motor Speedway a few months ago- your Talladega race sounds exactly the same as my experience! I especially hated running around that stupid racetrack, feeling like I had gotten no where. Oh well, it was a good experience but like you said, I won't do it again.

    Great race!

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  23. I learned pretty quickly with running to take what the day gives you & make the best of it so you can just enjoy the experience. Sounds like you did just that. The time on the clock, this day that was not what was worth taking away from this race :).

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  24. That is so incredibly cool that you ran the last half of the race with that gentleman. I hope he told his family all about you, too.

    Not sure I'd want to run at a track since I don't really love NASCAR, but football and baseball stadiums are big draws for me.

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  25. OK...sorry. I wanted to comment and instead replied to a comment, and then accidentally deleted the reply. :/ Anyway, this is the best race report ever! Just another reminder that runners are the most friendly and supportive people around. You made that man's day special and, for that, you should be very proud.

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  26. That was so awesome that you walked with the man! That totally makes the race worth it!! I actually like that shirt, too. I'm partial to bright colors for running! I've never run on a race track, but did a bike race at Nazareth Speedway here in PA before it was torn down. They used to have Indy Car races there. It was a fast mile track! It was a 30 mile/lap crit. We finished in just under an hour (it was also the first time I stayed with the lead pack- about 40 left by the end). I felt great but had nothing for the sprint and finished last in the pack. There is a duathlon in upstate NY that is a couple laps around a La Mans course biking, 1 running, then repeating. It's also in Wine country- I may end up doing that one if I ever get back into biking.

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  27. Awwww..that is the sweetest story Suz! That's awesome that you did that. I ran a race that went through Churchill downs, as well as one that ended in AT&T Park in San Francisco, but never one that went on a car racing track!

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  28. what a wonderful story! its like you all were meant to have that time together... on a lighter note, cracking up at allen's bright shirt/short shorts comment!

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  29. Suz, what a sweet story! I'm sure you were such a light to him during his race! I can't believe you got up at 3am!! Crazy! I need you to come pace me for thanksgiving!!

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  30. This is such a sweet story. I think you did the "right" thing by hanging out with that man. It probably meant something to him too. I mean, when you are out there alone racing, and you found someone whom you shared family stories with, that's some kind of bonding. :)

    Waking at 3 a.m. to drive to a race... uhm... no thanks! I need my sleep. Without it, I can't function. :)

    I did a super slow race. I had a knee injury, but already paid $ for the race, so I figured I would run/walk and eventually walk the race and get a medal. It was bad. It was slow. It was painful. Apparently, walking 13.1 miles is more painful than running the 13.1 miles.

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  31. Wow I have never heard of this race but just the fact that it's based on a major Will Ferrel movie is enough reason for me! What a great story, so glad you were able to enjoy the race and remember your grandfather this way :)

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  32. Sorry you didn't have a good race :( 3 AM is way too early!!!!

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  33. Sounds like a tough place to run a race. Congrats on finishing! I've had some slower than expected finishes - I've learned how great it is to finish when I didn't think I could.

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  34. I had planned to race for a PR when my aunt asked me to take my cousin for the weekend. So instead of aiming for the PR, I ran with my cousin for her very first 5k. It was my slowest 5k and is most rewarding. Not every race is going to be a PR and it's all about the experience!

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