WTVM's Jason Dennis recalls experience running half marathon in AL

WTVM's Jason Dennis recalls experience running half marathon in AL

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WTVM) –  Running is something that's now a part of my life, and a half marathon over the weekend was another adventure involving my newer healthy hobby, hoping to motivate others to do the same.

Ten months after running my first ever 13.1 miles at Callaway Gardens, I ran the "Magic City Run" half marathon on Sunday morning in downtown Birmingham, AL. It was a cold and windy 35 degrees to start the race, alongside hundreds of other runners – and some walkers – but it was a lot of fun and a fulfilling accomplishment! This is not something I ever thought I would or could do several years ago.

My time ended up being 2:02:50 (on my GPS watch), with a gun time of 2:03:15. That's at a pace of about 9:20 per mile, and overall was about 5 minutes faster than my one in the Pine Mountain area. It was clearly behind the person who smashed the Magic City half marathon record: Scott Fuqua of Birmingham finished it at an incredibly fast time of 1:13:40, at a 5:38 mile pace.

The best part was having my wife and kids there, cheering me on at the finish line, which was in a cool place – at the end, we ran through the outfield wall of Regions Field in Birmingham, then finished just behind home plate! This field is the home of the 2013 Southern League champion Birmingham Barons.

There are some pictures, in the slideshow with this article, of me before and after the race, including my post-race meal; almost ate that entire pizza.

I finished 334th out of almost 900 runners in the half marathon. Event officials tell me the 5th annual Magic City Half Marathon and 5K was the biggest in its five-year history, with more than 1,700 runners registered for the three event distances – including a one mile fun run.

This event, on a USATF certified course, benefited a non-profit connected to a former American Idol winner – the Ruben Studdard Foundation for the Advancement of Children in the Music Arts.

There were times during the long run that I wanted to stop, but my goal was to do this half-marathon without stopping, except for two or three quick stops for a sip of water, which I was able to do – thanks to training and prayer and motivation. This involves running through some pain, and mostly getting through mental walls, before and during the race.

As we ran through the streets of Birmingham on Sunday, by some historic landmarks like Railroad Park, with music in my ears, I was passing some runners, and getting passed by others. We had people cheering us on along the way, holding signs of encouragement and some funny ones with slogans like "Chafing the Dream."

Two days later, I'm a little sore, but not as bad as expected and not injured. This half marathon comes after 2-3 months of training, building my body up to sustain 13.1 miles again. I started running on a regular basis a little more than two years ago, first using the C25K (Couch to 5K) app on my smartphone. I'm not sure where my next race will be, or if I'll ever do a full marathon.

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