What’s the story behind the Casa Superhero 5K in Montgomery, Alabama? I would love to tell you. Once upon a time, I set a goal to run one race in every state. Then I broke my leg. And then we faced a global pandemic. Goals made became goals delayed. But maybe we are back on the upswing? All signs point happily to yes!
When we made our plans to travel to Alabama (on our 17th anniversary, no less). the first thing I did was check to see if there were any races in the area. A’s band wouldn’t perform until 3PM, so I thought I might have time to squeeze in a race in a state I’ve never run before. Enter the Superhero Casa 5K in Montgomery. Sure, it was an hour from our hotel, but one hour is closer than five hours, so I bookmarked it for later. When I finally registered, it was past the deadline for guaranteed shirt and medal, which made me a little sad, but neither of those things are the point of the challenge. At the last minute, Mr PugRunner registered, too.
Since we were out of town, we couldn’t get to the early packet pickup on Friday. This made me a little nervous, because there were no instructions for onsite pickup, but I decided that since they had morning-of registration, we would be fine. My only request was that we arrive super early to make sure we found parking and had a chance at a t-shirt. I needn’t have worried. Only 250 people signed up for the 5K and the fun run, so there was no shortage of street parking at the Riverwalk Stadium, home of the Montgomery Biscuits, where the race would start and finish.
It was kind of freezing, so we took a quick walk around to find the restrooms, scope out the street, and then hopped in the car to wait for the 9:15 start time. As a Floridian, this is unheard of. By 9:15, it’s hot and humid and full sun. No one wants anything to do with that. I can’t claim to be a big fan – my body was ready to move, but we didn’t have many options, especially if we wanted to stay warm. With our packets in hand (we did snag those tech t-shirts!), we turned on the seat warmers, and listened to music until we saw the start line get displayed across the street.
Then it was time to decide on the final fit (I went with shorts, tank, gloves, gaiter for my ears, and sunnies) and to join the crowd.
Time To Go!
The race director spent a few minutes getting us organized. There were runners, walkers, adults, children, strollers, and dogs. Some of the runners had already gone out for the little kids fun run earlier in the morning, but the rest were there for the 5K.
We listened pretty hard to the instructions: we were completely unfamiliar with the area, and even having glanced at the course map, we had no idea what we were in for. It seemed there was another event going on that morning, so the director advised us to follow the cones with the red arrows, not the blue. Got it. He then said, hand to heart, “Be careful; it’s a hilly course; go.”
And so off we went.
Start Through Mile 1.5
You know those people who say they go out too fast? Well, that was me. I sprang forward with everyone else and was gone. My plan was to run five minutes and walk one, but when I turned the corner and saw the first hill, I lost all sense of reason. Most of Florida is sea level and flat, so even the slightest incline present a challenge. These were HILLS. But here we were, and the show must go on, so I put my head down and charged. I made it most of the way up, before the cold air settled in my throat, leading to one heck of a coughing spell. I decided to just do my best in the conditions, run up as much as I could, and then just use the momentum of the downhills where applicable.
In the meantime, it warmed up pretty quickly. I stripped off my gloves, and even my ear warmer, when it stated to get oppressive. The course was completely open, to the point that only select intersections were staffed by police, so I had to keep my wits about me, for sure.
I continued running, trying to soak in the city. It really was much prettier than anticipated. As I chugged along, I saw a couple in the distance, wearing one of our high school sweatshirts. It turned out to be our friends, who had spent the night in town and were grabbing breakfast! I can’t tell you how nice it was to get some extra encouragement in a strange place and on a tough course! Things did not improve, as that course opened up on to an even busier street. I ended up having to run in the grass until I was able to safely cross. There were several runners who cut bits and pieces of the course due to not being able to safely run where indicated.
Finish Line Celebration
Finally, the stadium was back in our sights. We ran all the way around, and entered a large gate to the outfield. Happily, it was all downhill and I was thrilled to cross! It wasn’t a PR, but I did come in third place for the F45-49 age group (no award). I was super proud because of the elevation and the hills – it seems my hard work in the gym and in my running is paying off!
Mr PugRunner came in a little behind me, and we took our time enjoying the festivities. They had some vendors and bounce houses set up for the littles, as well as superheroes in costumes.
I was distracted by the promise of chicken biscuits, which were just perfect.
And we also took some ball park photos, for posterity.
Oh, we did get medals, too! Whew.
After our snack and photos, I asked if we could head back to the Visitor’s Center. There was a gorgeous fountain, as well as some Rosa Parks memorials. I wanted to take some photos there, as well as take in the history.
If we ever return, I would love to spend a day or two exploring the public art, landmarks, and museums that seem to make up so much of the city.
This was a very nice event. Sure, it was small, but it seems like it will continue to grow over the years. There is definitely room to get more participants and supporters, and I’m sure the organization would love to see that in years to come.
I was definitely nervous on the open course – the traffic wasn’t heavy, but I’m also glad I run without ear buds. It would have been very easy for an accident to happen.
All in all, the weather was perfect, it was great to run somewhere new, and I’ve check off State #8 in my quest!
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