I arrived at the Renaissance hotel in Mobile late afternoon, turned my car over to the valet, checked in, and then walked the easy distance to the small expo downtown. I picked up my bib and my back-to-back plaque handmade by the residents of L'Arche Mobile, and then chatted with some running friends who'd also come into town for the race.
|Ran into David and Kevin at packet pickup in Mobile|
I realized, after these last two very cold days, that I'd not packed a warm cap for the races. Fortunately, as small as the Mobile race expo was, there was one booth there selling running gear and accessories and I was able to purchase a bright red fleece cap for $7.00. Perfect!!
|The really neat plaque made by L'Arche residents.|
Then it was a short walk back to the hotel, dinner and a beer in the lobby lounge, then I returned to my room, laid out my things for the next day's race and put my feet up in front of TV for the evening.
Sunday morning I was up early. I ate my breakfast of Cheerios and a banana, then started to get dressed. It was going to be cold at the start - in the low 20's - but dry and sunny, fortunately. By the time I had all of my running clothes on, I felt and looked like a fat red tomato. I had on my wonderful, new long Asics heavier weight tights, two long sleeve shirts - one of them lightweight, the other a heavier weight 1/2 zip with funnel neck and thumb-hole sleeves. Over this I pulled on a dense, heavyweight red fleece quarter-neck top, a neck buff, my new red fleece cap, and Polartec fleece running gloves. I was ready!!
The race start was just 3 short blocks from the hotel and I arrived just in time to hear running friend Jim Diego sing the national anthem. (click the link to see the video). He's been "running" around the country singing the anthem at marathons and then lining up at the start to run the marathons. He's one tough little running "cookie!"
I did this race last year, doing the full marathon. This year I was doing the half marathon. Same excellent, scenic first 8 miles and then the full marathon runners split off and we continued eventually heading back to downtown and the finish line.
|The half marathon route for Mobile 1st Light, data from my Garmin GPS watch|
As we started out and I began to find my pace, I found myself next to a young lady who was moving at about the same pace. We stayed together for the entire race, chatting and comparing race notes. She was from a suburb of Minneapolis but admitted she was cold. Of course, she was wildly under-dressed, wearing only a running skirt, long sleeve shirt and thin gloves. She didn't expect it to be this cold. I'm sure her drawers at home are filled with winter running clothes and that she was wishing she had some of it with her on this trip.
Having someone to run along with for the entire race made the miles go by quickly. Even when I managed to find that one little tiny patch of ice along the curb at around mile 12 and slipped and fell, she stayed with me. Later, after the race, we "friended" each other on Facebook and she checked in with me the next day, asking how my knee was.
|Really cool, handmade finisher medal. So unique!|
|Really gorgeous but unfortunately unearned back-to-back medal|
given to us at the finish line of the Mobile race. The center spins.
After I crossed the finish line and collected both my race finisher medal and the sadly unearned but gorgeous Back to Back medal, I made a beeline for the hotel, stopping first at the most excellent little coffee house near the hotel to pick up a cappuccino to bring with me back to the hotel. I couldn't wait to get into that hot shower and get warm!
|Here I am, all bundled up, crossing the finish line|
Once showered and dressed, I grabbed my cell phone and headed back to the finish line to get some of the very good post-race food and to wait for Jim and others who were doing the full marathon to come in. The food was so good....red beans, sausage, and rice and corn bread to go with. There was free beer, as well, but who wants to hold onto a can of ice cold beer when the temps are in the 20's?
|Finish line, waiting for a friend|
I waited and waited for my friends to come in, but eventually decided that I must have missed them and headed back to the hotel. I was tired and very cold and eager to get off my feet for the rest of the day. Another half marathon done. And I had another one coming up the next weekend - Chevron Houston Aramco Half. I ordered room service and settled in front of the TV for the evening.
I stayed another night at the lovely Renaissance hotel, then got on the road early the next morning for the 450 mile drive home. I love doing this little race and will definitely be back to do it again.
Next up: Chevron Houston Aramco Half Marathon the next weekend.