On Saturday, I ran the Huntsville Half Marathon in Huntsville, Alabama. This was half marathon #11 and race state #19 – woohoo!
After running the Nashville Half Marathon back in April, I was looking for a smaller race to try for my next half. I also wanted to run a new state so I began looking on Running in the USA at neighboring states and what might be available.
The Huntsville half is capped at 1000 people and looking at the previous year’s results, less than 600 people ran. I thought that seemed like a good number. I was also looking for a late fall race because I essentially took the summer off from running with the heat and humidity and being burned out after the miserable Nashville half! So I knew I needed to give myself some time off and then also time to get back into running and training.
I drove down to Huntsville on Friday afternoon and stopped at Fleet Feet Sports Huntsville to get my packet, which was my bib number and some coupons. This race does a finisher’s shirt so you get your shirt and medal after you finish the race. They had the shirt and medal displayed at packet pickup so I was able to see what to expect, which I liked.
As I was trying to go to sleep the night before the race, I was feeling a little under the weather – my head was pounding and my throat was sore but I took some ibuprofen and was able to get some sleep.
When I woke up, my head and throat felt better but I felt like there was a brick in my stomach. Sometimes when I travel or have pre-race nerves, my stomach goes a little haywire and I am unable to go to the bathroom. This was not a good sign that my stomach hurt from the get-go.
Also when I woke up, I checked the weather. The forecast kept going back and forth between rain/storms and being clear. It was clear! But at 6am it was already 62 degrees and 100% humidity – not my ideal running temp but also not as bad as the Nashville half!
I got up, ate my breakfast, and got dressed.
I headed to the race start. The race started at a church that had a pretty large parking lot so parking was easy peasy. I was about 30 minutes early so I hung out in the car for a bit and then got in line to use the bathroom and walk around.
The race started on time and it was already feeling pretty warm once the sun came out. The first few miles of the course were residential streets that were mostly shaded and lots of turns, which kept things interesting. Then we were on a long open stretch with the sun beating down, which was not so fun. Then we took a few miles on the greenway trail, which was somewhat shaded. That part was also out and back. Once I got back on the wide open sunny road, I knew I only had a few more miles to go. Even though my stomach was really hurting by this point, I had to just power through. By the end, I was practically doubled over from the pain, but I finished!
After crossing the finish line, I got my race medal and was able to look at the different sizes of race shirts and pick which one I wanted, which was really nice! I was too sweaty to try them on so I went with the Women’s Medium but later wished I had gotten the Large. Oh well!
They had lots of food options for the post-race. I had a slice of orange and a piece of pizza (maybe not the best choice for my stomach, but it sounded good in the moment). I was also able to get some fresh clothes out of my car and use the restroom inside the church to change out of my soaking wet race clothes! That was nice as I had a 2 hour drive back to Nashville.
Overall, the race was well organized and I loved the ease of logistics that come with a smaller race size. I wasn’t pleased with my finished time of around 2 hours 30 minutes but considering I walked quite a bit because of the stomach pains, I am ok with it. Other than the stomach issues, I felt pretty good so I feel like I could’ve had a better time but you just never know! I have two more half marathons already on the books so I’ll get back at it soon and continue onward.