The Birdtown Half Marathon was held on Saturday, May 19th. Along with the half marathon, they offer 8k and 4k distances, and a Little Birdie Fun Run for kids.
Saturday morning started overcast and cool, with the temperature around 57*F at race time. Parking was located across the street from Lakeview Terrace Park, the location of both the start and finish lines for the race.
Packet pick-up was held the prior night, at Lions Gym in Robbinsdale. A good friend of mine offered to grab my packet, so I am unable to comment on ease of packet pick-up. The race swag consisted of a drawstring bag, race bib, and a soft cotton t-shirt.
When I arrived on race morning, I got my packet from my friend, then headed to the staging area for the race. The total number of runners for the Birdtown races is approximately 600, so this was a fairly small race. Lines for the porta-potties were short and bag drop was a breeze. Even though my car was just across the street, I utilized bag drop because I was able to wear my long-sleeve shirt up until just a few minutes prior to the race start.
The half marathon started exactly on time, which I always appreciate. The course was a mix of city, residential, and park roads and paths. All turns were well-marked, with a police or volunteer presence at all major intersections. Many neighborhood residents were in their yards cheering, holding signs, or ringing cowbells.
During the first several miles of the course, I chatted with the 2:45 pacer, which made the miles cruise by faster. We even found out we’ve chatted online before! We separated once we got to the biggest hill on the course, but never got too far apart. I knew I wanted to finish somewhere around the 2:45 mark, if possible, so I tried to keep her in my sight.
I felt like I was cruising along for the first 9 miles. I felt good, and was pushing the pace harder than I probably should have. Just after the 9 mile marker, my right hip started to tighten up, so my pace dropped off a bit. Unfortunately, I had to walk a lot in the last two miles, so my time wasn’t as good as it could have been. But, that’s the nature of running; always so many variables to account for in each and every run.
Thankfully, the race finished on a downhill, so I was able to push into a sprint at the end. My finishing time was 2:44:35, which is a PR by almost a minute!
Post-race goodies included lemon gelato, muffins, Propel, and beer from Fulton and Dangerous Man. The gelato tops my list of favorite post-race snacks, right along with chocolate milk. I opted out of the muffins and beer; they just didn’t sound like they would hit the spot for me on this particular morning.
Overall, I liked this race. The course is challenging, but I liked the variety in scenery. The volunteers were awesome, and I loved the community support. I would recommend this race, and will likely run one of their races again next year.
I’d like to mention that I did something different with my fueling for this race. In the past year, I’ve been using Accel gels for long runs. However, Generation UCAN is a sponsor of Moms on the Run this year, and I received a sample of their UCAN Drink Mix. I drank the UCAN before the race, which is supposed to be sufficient fueling for up to three hours of activity. This means, I didn’t have to carry any gels. While my hip got tight, I never felt like I was lacking energy. I will be experimenting with UCAN more in my long runs, but so far, I like it. I also used the UCAN Hydrate to replenish electrolytes.