Monday, November 11, 2019

Tornadoes, Tuscaloosa Half Marathon and my PR!

Live pic from my TV...The tornado over 5miles away from this shot!
     This was the live pic on my tv in April 27, 2011 when the absolute worst tornadoes swept through Tuscaloosa, Alabama. We knew there was going to be bad weather, the weather guys had been saying all week "prepare for storms at the end of the week". What I did not realize was that these multiple tornadoes would be one of the worst set of storms to ever roll through. I had a feeling when I woke up that morning and heard our local weather guy, James Spann, say "this is one of those days that as a weather man that you really hope you don't have to see in your career". I knew at that exact moment that I definitely would not be sending my kids to school that day (yes, the schools were still open) and would not be heading in to work either. The hubby went off to work and when I watched the first set of tornadoes rip through Cullman, Al. on the live screen, I called him and immediately told him to get home. I'm not gonna lie, I've never really been one to overreact to storms. We seem to get them all of the time here, but now, we take it seriously. We heed the warnings!
     The hubby got home from work early and we were still kind of counting it as an "off day". The kids were outside playing. After all, it was HOT outside. But it was still weird too. The sky had a weird vibe and I knew it was coming. The hubby fell asleep and I was still watching the weather. It was heading towards Tuscaloosa now. Heading there quick. I saw it on the radar but when I saw it on the live cam, OMG. It was huge! The pic from the tv was still even 5 miles away and it was soooo big. I had friends in Tuscaloosa. Family in Tuscaloosa. I was screaming at the hubby to get up. "You have got to see this!!". GET UP!! I watched it all happen and prayed and prayed and prayed that it not hit the University of Alabama with all of those college kids. Oh the families. Oh the Moms and Dads who had kids there. Oh no. This is BAD. This is BAD. OH CRAP. I only live 30 minutes from there. It's headed here next. NOOOOOO!!!!
     My phone rang, it's one of my bff's in the driveway. They wanted in my basement. They didn't have one and we did so they drove over. It's flooding outside now. This is insane. We still had power and I had been charging every electronic device in my house. I downloaded the 33/40 weather app and was going to try to keep up that way if we lost power. I'm sooo worried now because we never lost tv and I just watched 1000's die in Tuscaloosa. I can't handle this. Still to this day I'm not sure if it would have been better to lose the power and see it all in the newspaper the next day and not watch it live. But then I think, had I not seen it all go down live, I probably wouldn't have taken it so seriously.
     The storm is turning and not going to hit my hometown. Thank the Lord. We ended up losing the power for a little bit but had it back on after a few hours. Then the stories started coming in...ugh. I couldn't stop watching the video footage from students posting youtube videos. The damage was incredible. People were finding things in their yards from Tuscaloosa from hundreds of miles away. WORST storm EVER.

     Fast forward almost two years....Tuscaloosa is finally being rebuilt little by little. Everyday I see new things being added. The Krispy Kreme (which was legendary on McFarland)  was one of the first things to be rebuilt. Whole apartment complexes that were demolished are being built again, repairs being made everywhere. Miles and miles of destroyed homes have been cleared away and concrete slabs remain ready to be built on again. The list goes on and on.
Alberta Baptist Church being rebuilt.
Devastation cleared. Flat land everywhere!
     So when I heard of the Tuscaloosa Half Marathon with all proceeds going towards "Building Toward Recovery", I knew I had to do my part and run it. Here was the Tuscaloosa Half Marathon Mission Statement: "The mission of the Tuscaloosa Half Marathon is to encourage healthy habits and exercise, while also aiding in recovery efforts from the April 27, 2011 tornado that ripped through Tuscaloosa County.

Benefiting organizations for the Inaugural Tuscaloosa Half Marathon and Fun Run are ReadBAMARead ( and the Kiwanis Club of Greater Tuscaloosa ( 100% of event proceeds will go toward rebuilding efforts for the playgrounds and school libraries that were affected throughout the county on April 27, 2011."

Run for a purpose. Run toward recovery.

     I was more than happy to donate and put the word out that my friends needed to run this race too. Aside from being an absolutely freezing day, it was a GREAT run. We ran 13.1 miles not just through the University of Alabama campus but all over Tuscaloosa, even right past lots of the devastation. Small reminders with every turn of every road of this storm. I had it in my brain that I was going to set a PR at this race. And I don't really know why other than I just wanted to run hard, make it hurt just a little and really be proud of myself for running through this great city. And set a PR I did! 2:07:52 was my official time and I couldn't have been happier because this race was HILLY! And yes, it did hurt..but it was a good kind of hurt. :)
 Headed to the Finish Line, running along side of the River.

 My Nike Sportwatch time.

 2013 Tuscaloosa Half Marathon Finisher Medal
  I wish I could have spend a little more time Friday afternoon at packet pickup/expo but it was an outside event and I was freeeezing so I just couldn't make that happen. I got to the race early Saturday morning, had no trouble finding a place to park, hit the restrooms and then headed towards the start line. It was in the 20's so I was ready to start running!

 Expo/Packet Pick UP
 LOVE the event tshirt!
 Start Line
 13.1 miles later, I crossed the finish line a happy girl and enjoyed my time at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater (home of the finish line party). I was really excited to get to go the Amphitheater. I've not been before and now I'm really hoping to catch a few concerts there this summer. They have great lineups and now I can see why! There was lots of water, bananas, Jim N' Nicks BBQ and even HOT coffee! The coffee was a HUGE bonus for me because I was sooooo cold after I cooled down.

Finish Line Party
 Tuscaloosa Amphitheater and Post Race Party!

 Ran into #TeamRunDisney friend Joe B. Raymnond! Fun!
     The band was playing and we took a few post race pics and decided to hang around for the awards and door prizes. I didn't place in my age group. Bummer. I thought I might since I knew I was around the 2:08 mark. Oh well, I 'll get 'em next time. A few of my friends did not want to stay but I love a good door prize so I decided to take my chances and boy am I glad I did! I ended up winning a beautiful Sara Blaine necklace from with a price tag of $370. Woah. Now THAT'S a door prize!! My mom won a $100 gift certificate to a local jeweler. So overall, I would say it's definitely in my best interest to hang around a few extra minutes and try to win a door prize. :)
 Door Prize Winners!

 Closeup of my Beautiful Sara Blaine Necklace!
 5th in my age group. Bummer.
      I'm not sure of the exact number of finishers in the race (I had heard there were around 1000 people registered) but for this to be the Inaugural race, I'm thinking they raised a good amount of money to help in the recovery efforts. Being a huge Alabama Football fan, Tuscaloosa Al. is one of my favorite places in the world (well aside from Walt Disney World)! The thought of something happening to my city was just devasting. There are so many things that are different now but so many things that are even better now. Adding races and recovery efforts over the next few years will definitely help in the healing/rebuilding process. I thoroughly enjoyed the race and will definitely run it again. My only complaint was that the lanyard was Yellow and Black! I wanted it to be Crimson Red or Houndstooth!! But other than that, no complaints on my end. Well Done Tuscaloosa Half Marathon!! Thank you for an excellent race and see you again next year!! Roll Tide!!

Sporting my Bling at Bryant Denny Stadium, Home of the Alabama Football National Champions.... One of my favorite places in all of the world!

My Top 5 favorite things about Tuscaloosa Half Marathon:
1. Running Towards Recovery....Love the cause.
2.  Running in one of my favorite cities. Roll Tide!
3. Post Race Party Rocked!
4. The course was challenging...and I love a good challenge!
5. Loved the event shirt...super soft and grey. Sooo tired of white race shirts!


  1. Great recap! I can't believe how cold it was. 20 degrees is TOO cold!! Congrats on your finish, though. That is an awesome time! RTR

  2. I love this post. After the tornadoes hit, my husband was asked to use his design skills to create something for the Toomer's for Tuscaloosa group. It's amazing how the rival schools came together in this huge time of need. I cannot even imagine what you and your family went though, so scary!

  3. Thank you for putting such a positive light on my town. I wanted to do that race. But I just couldn't. The storms hit hard and hit me personally (church gone, friends gone, 3 weeks of disaster relief leaves some deep scars) and I knew I wouldn't make the whole distance without losing it emotionally. But I'm so glad you wrote this post.

    Here is a review post and links to the my pics and posts after it hit.