Sunday, January 22

Race Report: Gulf Shores Half Marathon

The start: Low key starting area with maybe not enough port-o-potties. The Gulf Coast Half Marathon at Gulf Shores was definitely a small race (fewer than 500 runners) but what they lacked in pre-race frills, the organizers more than made up for in post-race awesomeness.

The bad: I'm having a hard time thinking of anything negative. So I'm going to stop trying. (Quitter, I know. But this is good quitting.)

This is the best half marathon I've run. Ever. And I don't throw around terms like "best" lightly, at least not with races.

My only complaint today: the weather sucked, but that's not the race's fault. With fog as thick as pea soup, this was a warm and wet 13.1. As one runner told me while we were waiting in the port-o-potty line, it was "not a PR kind of day." But that's ok... because it was an awesome-race kind of day!
When I said "thick fog" I meant it...
Note that you can't read street signs.
The good: Where do I begin...
Spectators were few and far between, but water stations were frequent (one at almost every mile) and the water station volunteers were wonderful. Seriously, a girl could get spoiled with this kind of course support. The Gulf Shores half might have ruined me for other races...
LA Parrotheads water station.
They even had a live parrot!
Water station mascot.
The course was gorgeous. Even in the thick fog, or maybe because of it, the run covered some beautiful scenery -- coastal dunes, salt marshes, pine forests. I want to go back to this part of Alabama when I have time to stop and enjoy the view.
9 runners who look just like me!
(Hubby found a new feature on his camera. I am a fan!)
The finish: Holy after-party, Batman! (Or should I say "Lulu?")
Jimmy Buffett's sister, Lucy, runs Lulu's Homeport in Gulf Shores, Alabama, and man does she know how to throw a party!

The entire indoor/outdoor restaurant was open to runners, which meant plenty of seating and plenty of food. Runners and guests had access to unlimited jambalaya, red beans and rice, fresh fruit, cookies, beer, and sports drinks. And even more important, race-walkers had plenty of hot food still available when they finished (all too often the food is gone by the time walkers wrap up).

A live band played tunes for a couple of hours. If the guests weren't doing the "post-race shuffle" it would have felt like just another vacation day at a beach resort.

My race: If you've been reading awhile, you know I don't run well on hot-and-humid days. But I still shaved 4 minutes off of my last half marathon time. I'm convinced that on a cooler day I'll be able to break 2 hours.

The weather put a damper on my A-game goals, but I solidly accomplished negative splits. I ran smart in the first half, and strong in the second. Unofficial results have me at 40 out of 215 female runners, and I had a smile on my face (almost) the whole time.

I can't wait to go back next year and move up the ranks!
(Hell, I'd go back and run this race again next weekend if they'd let me. It was that good.)

What's the best post-race party you've ever been to?


  1. I've never been to a post-race party. :( Either I feel too crappy at the end of the race and I want to go home, or for whatever reason, we have to leave right away (usually at away races).
    Congratulations on a great race!

  2. Loved reading this, sounds like you had a wonderful day...and that new feature on the camera is pretty cool!!!

  3. Sounds like a great race! Cool post-race party! I've never been to a post-race party, all the races I've done have been 5 & 10K's thus far. I am looking forward to what they have after the race at Disneyland next week!

  4. great job! Sounds like you had a fabulous day! My favorite after race party is in Seaside, OR after Hood to Coast. Always fun to celebrate a great race!

  5. Congrats! That fog looks so spooky. Also, I must check to see if my camera has that setting that your husband found. That is such a cool shot!

  6. I hear ya on the heat. So glad you had a great race! If I'm ever in AL in Jan...

  7. Congrats on a strong performance in less than ideal conditions! That photo of the many yous is really cool!

  8. Congrats on the race! There was a lot of fog there.


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