I was VERY excited to go to Alabama for one main reason…
Yes, there was a lot of singing.
We’ve noticed that since Louisiana, the states seem to look fairly similar. Very lush and green. Lots of trees and vegetation. Long motorways lined with greenery on either side. It’s really very pretty. We drove through the tiniest snippet of Mississippi and it looked a lot like Louisiana with the swamps.
So far we’ve been driving basically Eastwards since California. At Mobile, AL, we made a left turn and started our long trip north. Big moment.
Our first stop in Alabama was the tiny rural town of Andalusia. Not many tourists go to Andalusia but the Husband has a cousin who’s lived there for years so we were off to see him. The road to Andalusia was pretty farmland, studded with the odd Confederate flag. Definitely not in the Bay Area any more.
It was great to see the Husband’s cousin. They haven’t seen each other for more than twenty years so I’d never met him. He had the same Ramsden genes and the most incredible accent in the world – half broad Yorkshire, half southern American. He sounded like a cross between Sean Bean and Matthew McConnaughey. I kept asking him questions so I could listen to that accent. It was a fun evening.
The next morning, I got in a good 7 mile run around Andalusia so I got to explore a little more. There was a mix of run-down houses and beautiful mansions in fancy neighbourhoods. It was a snippet of Southern small-town America that I’ve never seen before and it was fascinating to me.
I would have liked to have spent longer in Alabama – there’s so much history here. We passed by Montgomery, home to Harper Lee, Truman Capote and Rosa Parks. But we had a hot date in Georgia for July 4th to get to so we kept driving. Our next stop, as we headed further north, was Birmingham, to stay with the lovely Lisa. Lisa used to have the best running blog on the internet (which she needs to revive). We’d got to know each other through our blogs, we’d met up IRL earlier this year and she gamely offered to host us for the night. I was signed up to run the Peavine Falls 8 miler on July 4th – as we drove north, the boys all decided they wanted to do it too. This was a massive step up for the Dude and Big Brother, who have only done 5ks in the past, but the Husband said he’d run/walk it with them. So our first stop in Birmingham was at the Trak Shak, the local running store, to sign up and get numbers.
We then visited the Vulcan statue which was a little bit of a disappointment. We hadn’t known that Vulcan was the Roman god of Metalwork and the Forge, so frankly we expected a quirky giant state of Spock. No Spock. Disappointed Husband.
Due to the holiday weekend, Martin Luther King’s 16th St Baptist Church was also closed so we just got to see it from the outside but I’m glad we did. There’s so much recent history in this state, so much important stuff happened. Visiting here has really brought the 1960s Civil Rights struggle to life for us.
And then, after haircuts and a trip to see Cars 3, we spent the evening with Lisa and her family. We didn’t get any photos but we had a fab evening!!
The next morning was July 4th. It started horribly early and by 6.30am we were at Oak Mountain State Park for the Peavine Falls run. We had been totally ignorant of the details when we signed up but it turned out that the race was on road through the park. 4 miles up, 4 miles down. Last mile would be on trail. It was a very low-key race (and very well-priced) so there was no timing chip or starting mat. There was the National Anthem, and then we were off.
I’ve run a lot lately but nothing more than 6 or 7 miles and no speedwork, so my goal was to pace this run well, rather than race it! I knew that with four miles uphill, I needed to be careful so I put my head down and ran it as wisely as I could. I was delighted to get to the top without stopping to walk, and more delighted to turn back. Running downhill was awesome. I saw the boys and then I flew down. I felt fantastic until the final mile through the trails where my legs were tired and I just wanted to be done, but I ran the whole distance pretty steadily and finished with a time of 1.22 which was unremarkable in truth but was a solid, steady run for me and I was content with it.
(Finish line photos courtesy of the race photographer. Thanks for the free photos, guys).
Hanging round with Lisa and her friends afterwards, we cheered the runners coming in…and one of the group said ‘Wow, look at that kid’. We looked up and it was the Dude hurtling down the finish straight! ‘That’s my kid’, I said and dashed off to get him. Once I’d fed him oranges and water, he told me that he’d left his Dad and Big Brother at about mile 3 and run the vast majority of the race alone! My mind was blown and I’m incredibly grateful to the other runners who he said cheered him on throughout the race, but the thought of my little boy running the trails alone (albeit surrounded by runners who were probably keeping an eye on him) kind of did my head in! The Dude had a fantastic day…he was determined to run it well and seriously crushed it, coming in at 1.49.
The Husband and Big Brother rocked up shortly after, just after the 2 hour sign. Given that Big Brother only started running in May and has done nothing more than a 5k, this was a massive achievement for him as well. We were bursting with pride for these boys!
There were showers at the lake beach, elsewhere in the park. Cold water! Brrr. But we showered off, got changed and hopped in the car to drive to Atlanta. It was Independence Day, we had dear friends to see and we needed to get on the road.
Alabama, you were seriously great! Georgia…we were coming for you!