Sunday, January 8, 2017

2016 Rocket City Marathon Race Report and Video

Here's Holly's Rocket City Marathon (Alabama) Race Report and Video. Following are Dave's comments and some photos from the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville.

Some states are easy to pick which marathon I want to do. This was one of them. I love the space program, so a marathon held in Rocket City with a rocket theme is a win all the way around. We got to Huntsville the night before the race with just enough time to meet our great friends Stan and Pam for a delicious pasta dinner. We then headed over to the hotel and checked in.

Race morning and we couldn’t believe how bundled up we had to be in Alabama! It was 22 degrees at the start and I don’t think it got up to 40. My three coldest marathons: Florida, Mississippi and Alabama. Crazy! I was feeling prepared for this race and my mental preparedness was much better than the last two marathons. Honestly, the hardest part about running a marathon is keeping your head in the race the whole time. It’s easy to give up and just start walking. I’m happy to say that this did not happen for this race.We started off a bit too fast but I think that was because we were cold and we were trying to warm up. The course wound around on itself several times, but I could never tell. We ran mainly through neighborhoods. The highlight of course was running through Rocket City Park. Running by the Saturn V and under a space shuttle was priceless. It was even better to run with Stan, who is a huge space nut and he provided great commentary.

We ran through a great park that had a ton of Christmas light displays up. It would have been cool to run through this in the dark to see them all. Dave and Pam were doing their usual stellar job tracking us and collecting the few layers we actually did shed. This is the first time I ran with a running vest and I loved it. It kept me warm but I didn’t get overheated.

We kept up our intervals the whole way and yes, we did get tired at the end, but I didn’t give up, as I really wanted to get in under 5:30. The wind picked up a bit and that was a challenge but soon we were finishing by running into the indoor Von Braun Arena. A nice place to finish since it was cold. We were given a huge medal and a finisher hat. They also had free race photos and great food: Ice cream sandwiches and chicken noodle soup. They also gave us finisher certificates with our names printed on it at the finish. Very nice.

This was a first class race setup with excellent communication, a nice course, great finish and great swag. I would highly recommend the Rocket City Marathon.

Here's the video:

Dave's Comments:

This race had one of the strangest courses on paper we have seen with the route crossing over itself many times. Our first planned stop was in an older area of town with a bunch of one-ways and closed roads. We ended up driving on the course for our first viewing point. Ugh. After that it got relatively easier with a lot of residential areas connected by larger commercial streets. Our last major hurdle was getting to the finish because of closures, but the police officers watching the course gave us a decent route cutting through a shady apartment complex. We got some snacks at The Embassy Suites breakfast buffet near the start (I was a guest so it was ok), a Starbucks, and a Korean grocery store. The course was pretty lack-luster with the exception of the older homes at the start and the Rocket Center.

Post-race we found "brewery row". Three different breweries on the same street almost next door to each other. We had lunch at Straight to Ale, which was in a portion of an old middle school. Dedication plaques and the gym scoreboard were left in-place to enhance the theme. Next door was Yellowhammer. They had a great space and shared their building with a wood fired pizza place - this ended up being our dinner spot later in the evening. Salty Nut was the third brewery we visited. They were in an older commercial building that was a bit smaller than the others but they had a great beer garden (which we could not use given the cold). We liked the place a lot but left quickly since a hard rock band was warning up. To their credit they handed us earplugs.

On Sunday we visited the Space Center and looked at rockets. We sat through an interesting presentation on the International Space Station and walked through a model of it. We toured through the room with the Saturn V rocket hanging from the ceiling and read through most of the timeline of the space program. Honestly I am the wrong person to comment on this since it was mostly looking at cylinders with pointy ends. To be fair, my breweries are the same thing: cylinders with liquid in them.


My exit from this thing was not graceful