Monday, November 11, 2019

CAUTION: Talladega Half Recap Ahead! #ItsDegaBaby

      It's no secret that I love running the Talladega Half Marathon in Talladega, Al. I just completed my 5th event (there have been 6). Sponsored by the The Trak Shak, Birmingham Coca Cola Bottling Company, Red Diamond Coffee and Tea, Talladega Super Speedway, Jim N' Nick's BBQ,The Urology Centers of Alabama (Birmingham) and The Birmingham Track Club, the main goal of this race to raise awareness for Prostate Cancer via Urology Health Foundation .

     Growing up about 15 minutes from this NASCAR track, this is a super fun venue for me. I see lots of friends and family and get to run on the track where I used to "hang out" on as a teenager.

     I got to the track before sunrise. With a 7:30am start time, the race officials ask that everyone arrive no later than 6:30. I was pulling in to the infield to park before daylight. How fun is that?! The sun coming up over the track is so pretty!

     First stop: FIND MY PRINCESSES! My Mom, My sister and one of my bff's Leigh, all gathered up and are ready for lots of fun photo opps. I mean, what else do ya do an hour before race time? :) 

And then, here comes my Dad! He knows not to EVER expect a serious pic! 

     One thing that I really like is that because this race is on a Sunday morning, lots of people will miss church. This race offers a Non-Denominational worship service before the race begins on the infield near the Kids Zone by the pit garage. Now that's the way to get your praise and worship on! 

     Ribbons line the fence in honor of those battling Prostate Cancer. Very cool tribute to those battling.

     Selfie with "the Flash"!

     Selfie time with the sis! 

     Here we go boys! Let's do this! 

     The race announcer announced over the speedway..."This is more than a race!! THIS. IS. TALLADEGA. 

....And we're off!!!! 

     The race starts on the track and we are off! Headed for Turn one and the runners already start to spread out. This track is BIG. As we approach the turn, we have to merge closer to the left side. The bank is steep. Not gonna lie, this is killer on the ankles if you are too far to the right. 

     We make a full loop around the track and jump off and head towards the parking lot. As you can see here, we are already up a good but higher than where we started. There are not huge hills, just a gradual incline. In the pic above, I'm looking through the fence over the track. 

     As I was leaving the track, I look over on the bank (just above where the start line was) and I catch our fearless race director (Val McClean) cheering on the runners. I love that about that her. She supports the runners and is on-hand during the entire race. She also coordinates the Mercedes-Benz Marathon Weekend so this lady is the expert of putting on a good race! 

     Of course, I have to stop and tweet to Val what a great job that she is doing by cheering us on! As I'm just about to start running again, a friend from Twitter/Instagram, Jodi (aka @jlthore) spotted me! We were hoping to meetup in Nashville but didn't make it happen so I was really excited to finally meet her in person. We ran a few miles together just chatting and chatting. I really love meeting new friends on the course...each race experience is a totally new experience, even if it's the same 'ole course. :) 

      After I left Jodi and her boyfriend, we were headed back into the entrance of the Talladega SuperSpeedway. This was approximately mile 7-8, something like that.

Selfie at the Infield Tunnel Entrance. 

      Up a pretty big hill and then it's time to run the Grandstands! This is a really nice change of scenery. You actually run through the breezeways of the grandstands and there are REAL RESTROOMS there if you need it. I don't stop but I saw lots of other runners taking advantage of them. 

     At some point between mile 8-9, my friend Rachel (aka @runinhighheels), caught up with me. We ended up running the rest of the race together which was totally fun and unexpected. We chatted the whole time about different races, training, brands that we are working with (or want to work with) and just girl stuff in general. And of course, we posed for the camera. ;)

      At mile 11.5ish you shall find the Beer:30:00 tent set up. Not kidding. This is an "official" stop on the course. Come on, it's Dega Baby! 

     Another thing that I loved was seeing all of the quotes from the movie Talladega Nights. Any reference to Ricky Bobby or Shake and Bake and I'm in! I loved this quote.....#Merica. 

     One more loop around this track and we are DONE! It seems like it goes forever too because one lap around it over 2 miles....WOWZA!! 

     Caution: The Finish Line complete with Checkered flags is straight ahead....I spy the Bling!!!!

     Rachel and I had really had a blast running together...we sprinted to the finish line like we were total ROCKSTARS for a strong finish and decided that we will definitely run more races together! Too much fun! Can you say hammin' it up for the camera?!!

     Stopped for a quick pic with Val. She's really a doll and I wish every race had a race director as great as she is!

     It's a Pit Row Finish! My time was not the greatest but I don't really care about that. I train hard at home for speed so that I can relax at the race and know that I will have the "time" to goof off and get a good run in too. Backwards logic when compared to most runners..but I'm not like everyone else. I run for experiences.  I had a great time, got a good workout in and another long training run for Chicago Marathon, Rock 'n' Roll Vegas Marathon and Walt Disney World Marathon is in the books! Yeahhhhhhhh

     Seriously. I'm hanging out on pit row with my bling! #NascarQueen 

     Just as I was leaving the track, I was stopped by another Instagram friend of's @WDW13point1. How fun is it to connect with your online buddies in real life?? Super cool in my opinion! Again, I could have chatted with him for hours....So much to talk about! Running, Disney, Social Media. What's not to love?!?

     So I finally left the track and was headed to the pit garages for the after party....but first, let me take another picture with my medal! The official race photographers were set up on Victory Lane for pics. I had to stop there too. Can you really have too many?!?! 

     And then there's THIS GIRL. I have have no words for the amount of fun that I have with my Leigh Marsh! Get me to the Pit Garage!!! I'm starving!!

Next stop. It hit the Pit Garage packed full of Live Music, Lots of Jim N' Nicks BBQ, and of course beer. I didn't drink the beer, instead I opted for a hot cup of Red Diamond Coffee. I know, I know. I might just be the only runner in America that wants coffee after a race but I seriously freeze to death after I cool down. Thanks Red Diamond...You are the #BombDotCom!

     I will DEFINITELY run this race again. It's already on my calendar for next year. As always, there was not a shortage of porta-potties, water/Power Ade/GU stations.  My event shirt was a short sleeve, women's cut dri-fit shirt with the Talladega 21000 Half Marathon logo on it and there was plenty of BBQ! Score!

 I left the Speedway and headed home but had to make a quick stop by my Mom's house. I grabbed another cup of coffee and took one last medal pic. Super fun day, great race, fun times with my peeps and coffee for the road. I love being a runner. :)

**For more information on the Talladega 21000 Half Marathon, 5K Lap around the Track and One mile Fun Run/Walk please visit

Happy Running and See You at the Track!

*Disclaimer: I was graciously provided a complimentary entry for this race in exchange for my social media coverage. However, I love this race and would pay to run it any day. #ShakeAndBake

Tuscaloosa Half Marathon: "PR" does NOT stand for "PRETTY ROTTEN"

2015 Tuscaloosa Half Marathon
Official Time 2:02:01
     Last Saturday was a pretty big day for me as I ran the 2015 Tuscaloosa Half Marathon in Tuscaloosa, Al. Tuscaloosa is home of my Crimson Tide Football and aside from Orlando, Florida, it's pretty much my favorite place on Earth. And oh yeah, I set a PR.

     I'm a HUGE Alabama Football fan so this race was a NO BRAINER for me. I ran it a couple of years ago and I gotta be honest, I was SO disappointed in the Inaugural medal and the course. Don't get me wrong, I didn't complain about the race at the time. I'm always happy to get out there and make the most of any experience so I definitely still "liked" the race but it just needed a little work.

     The Inaugural medal was a medal with a pic of a running shoe and Indian Feather?! I get it. There IS Indian history with "Tuscaloosa". But come on, I wanted my Crimson Tide represented!!!  The course. We didn't even come close to the stadium...I stopped by there on my way home to grab a pic with my medal. Boo.
The one and only pic that I took during the race.
Stadium Selfie. <3

     Since the Inaugural year, there have been BIG changes to this race! And changes that are for the better for sure. First, the course. We ran through the campus! Right past Bryant-Denney Stadium....I was a happy girl!  The medal....OMG. It's freaking BEAUTIFUL. It has Houndstooth. It has a Crimson Elephant. The lanyard was Crimson. Two Words: ROLL TIDE.
The Bling!!!!

     Here's what went down:
     We started the race. 28 degrees. Okay that's a little bit chilly. It was going to warm up pretty quick so we made the decision to shed off all of our layers. Yiiiiiiiikes. The first couple of miles were just not fun. I couldn't feel my digits. Somebody remind me why we do this to our bodies??

     By mile four or so, I started warming up and thawing out pretty good. But hey, I forgot to mention that there will some pretty big HILLS on those first few miles. Holy Tuscaloosa!!

     By mile 6,. I really felt great. Keep going!!

     I had pace and distance on my watch set but I didn't want to look at the time.  The mile markers didn't have the time on them either so I was glad for that. I couldnt' handle the defeat until the end. I wanted to have a good race.

     Mile 7,8,9....uneventful. Keep running.

     Mile 10. I fell apart. NOOOOOOOO. Oh yes I did. I got to the point where I was wheezing. CRAP. I was mad.  I was slowing down and I knew it. Bottom line. I'm stubborn as all get out and I don't want to admit that sometimes I just need my inhaler. I'm going to have to start running with it and I can't get that into my head.

     The same thing happened to me after Mercedes, Talladega and during Tower of Terror 10 Miler. I need to NOT be a crazy person and take care of myself. In my mind, I'm invincible and things like this aren't supposed to happen to me. UGH.  Just BREATHE already.

     Mile 11, 12, 13. I'm still mad.

      I cross the Finish Line and I dont' even want to the see the time. I"m MAD.

I set a PR. I did great. Holy crap. I've gotten faster. My hard work is paying off.

I'm still just mad.

I'm not proud. Dangit.

My watch said 2:01:58 and my official time was 2:02:01. I beat my PR by more than 6 minutes.
My watch time.

     So all day after the race was over, I just sat and looked at that medal. Cheesy I know. But it really bothered me. No one in my house has even seen my medal yet. No one asked to see it and I didn't show it to any of them. No one asked how my race was and I didn't tell them about it.

I felt PRETTY ROTTEN all day.

I sat and I thought. And I thought. And I thought.

     Here's what I know: I care so much about having a "good" race. I love that fact that I'm fast enough to set a PR. Really I do. But I'm so in love with running that I get mad when I don't have a "good" race.

     I felt like garbage from mile 10 on and it just hurt my feelings. The rest of my day, I was a mess. Yep. I admit it. I cried like a baby. I know that is just the craziest thing on earth to admit to but it's true. I hurt my own feelings and I'm sensitive to that.

     It has taken me a few days to get over it all. In the end, I'm super proud of my PR. I don't feel "Pretty Rotten" anymore. I'm more grateful than ever to have great friends and I love my bling!!

     I'm done beating myself up about it all. And good grief, now that I know I can run so close to 2 hours, I'll have to break that two hour mark one day!!

Happy Running and Happy PR!

Red Shoe Run....I'm Lovin' It! #RSR17

Trading in my running shoes for my RED SHOES.
     When I decided to run the Red Shoe Run in my hometown of Birmingham, Alabama last year, I had no idea that I would be forming a life long partnership with Ronald McDonald House of Alabama and the Red Shoe Run!! I knew that the race helped a good cause but boy oh boy was I in for a sweet surprise!

     I was asked to help promote the race amongst my running friends and spread the word...I was super excited to be a part of it. Then I was asked to speak on one of our local morning television shows to help promote the race there as well! Talk about a little bit giddy! I was sooooooo giddy! I wanted to do a good job and I wanted to help bring in as many runners to the race as I could.  I wore red and white striped socks and prayed that I wouldn't stumble with my words. 
Time for the news!

Talk of Alabama.
     While the promotional part of the race is great for me, what I really enjoyed the most was learning exactly what I was running for. I went to the Ronald McDonald House. I wanted to see the facility and learn as much about the house as I could.
Ronald McDonald House of Alabama.

From the Ronald McDonald House of Alabama Website:

What We Do
Families from throughout Alabama, across the United States and from around the world come to Children’s of Alabama and UAB Hospital seeking life-saving treatment for their critically ill children. Often times, they come to Birmingham exhausted, scared and financially drained as they struggle to pay for overwhelming medical bills. 
Our Ronald McDonald House cares for 41 guest families every night, providing them with a home away from home while their children receive medical treatment. In addition to providing a comfortable bedroom, we surround our families with love and support from our volunteers, staff and other guest families who share the same hopes and fears. We also provide home-cooked meals, activities, indoor and outdoor play areas, laundry facilities, computers, WiFi, and much more so that our guest families can concentrate on what is most important — family.
In addition, we provide a comfortable, relaxing place to rest and regroup while only steps away from a sick child’s bedside at our Ronald McDonald Family Room at DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa. We also have a Happy Wheels Cart that delivers the comfort and care provided by the Ronald McDonald House to children and families while they’re at Children’s of Alabama.

Birmingham’s Only Affordable Temporary Housing Facility for Sick Children and Their Families
Twenty-four (24) hours a day, 365 days each year, the doors of the House open to welcome families of sick or injured children.
On any night when you open the door of the House, you will find 41 families and approximately 100 individual guests resting in cozy family bedrooms. We provide a stocked kitchen for guests to prepare their own meals, laundry, recreational and internet facilities, and welcoming dinners prepared by House volunteers.
Birmingham’s Ronald McDonald House asks for a $5 to $10 per night donation for services that cost more than $95 per night to provide. No family is ever turned away for their inability to make the minimal donation. Last year, the House provided over 700 guest stays; an estimated 38,000 stays since the House opened in 1979.

     The above two paragraphs explain what the Ronald McDonald House does and how they operate. However, the next picture really summed it all up for me. As I walked in, the hallways were lined up with bicycles that had been donated for kids. There were little pop-top collection boxes everywhere. I knew then that people from all over the community pitched in to make this Ronald McDonald House work AND I knew that they money that we were raising and collecting actually went towards everything that I thought that it was.

     Just the fact that families can stay here while their kids are in the hospital and take some of the financial burdens off, that's huge.
Bicycles in the hallway at Ronald McDonald House of Alabama.
Pop-top collection boxes.

So many pop-tops collected for Ronald McDonald House.
     I had so much fun touring the house and getting to know some of the people who worked there and chat with some of the families who were staying there. There are so many stories and I took home the heart of the Ronald McDonald House with me. <3
Picked up my team's race packets!
     Now it's time to actually run the race!! We had a starting temperature of 28 degrees! BRRRRRR!! It snowed on us while we were running! We hardly ever get snow in Alabama so this was a big deal to us.

Lakeshore Trail.
     The race took place in Homewood, Al. There is a one mile fun run, a 5k and 10 Mile option. I chose to run the 10 mile option. Even though we were just freezing while we ran, when we finished the race, the post-race party was indoors with lots of HOT McDonald's Coffee!! Major Score!!

     My friends and I had so much fun posing for pictures with Ronald McDonald, drinking hot coffee and watching the post race awards.

Kristin and Ronald. :)
     "Taking place in beautiful downtown Homewood, Red Shoe Run provides a great opportunity for team building and fundraising among groups, companies and organizations of all kinds. All money raised stays at the Ronald McDonald House in Birmingham to keep families close at a time when it’s needed most. Special awards are handed out to the top individual fundraiser, the top fundraising team, the most spirited team and the largest team. Team perks include a complimentary team sign, VIP seating and a Team Roll Call during our awards ceremony inside Rosewood Hall.
This year’s event will take place on Saturday, January 21, 2017 beginning at 7:00 am. To register and begin fundraising, visit"
Running with my friends....always fun!

Love my finisher's medal!

Yes. I'm a McNuggett.

Mid-Run Selfie.

Red Shoe Run Bling....I'm Lovin' It!

     Overall, I would say the Red Shoe Run was a huge success for the kids and I cannot wait to run it again this Saturday! Join my team (#TeamBamagirlruns) and use code BGR17 to save yourself some bucks! 

      For more information about the Red Shoe Run and Ronald McDonald House of Alabama, please visit

Happy Running and I hope to see you and your red shoes this Saturday!! If you are not local to Birmingham Al., and still want to make a donation, please do so! The Virtual run option is greatly appreciated. :)
Red Shoe Love!