Sunday, February 13th, 2011 was one of the best days of my life. It’s going to be very difficult to put into words how I feel right now. It was an amazing accomplishment to walk the half marathon, but what is so overwhelming and amazing is all of the support that was kindly given to me by all the wonderful folks in Birmingham, AL, the local media, my blog readers, twitter followers, and facebook friends and fans.
First, a very special person that I have been blessed to have in my life is Mr. Will Nevin. I’ve said it so many times this weekend because it’s true: If Will had not done the long walks with me on the weekends, I would have not been able to do the Mercedes half marathon! Will was gracious enough to ask me every week when we were going to meet at Rail Road Park for our long walks.
Will and I met through the blogosphere. He lives in Tuscaloosa, AL, which is 45 minutes from Birmingham, so he had a long drive every weekend to get to Birmingham. One of the things that touched me the most is that he walked at my speed. It’s challenging for slow walkers to find walking buddies, especially for long distance walkers.
Will has a blog, Duct Tape Wedding Ring, which he started a few months back. He started his weight loss at 340 ish pounds (I believe) and is now at 175 lbs. He did this in 9 mos, which is absolutely amazing.
Will has done 3 posts about the race yesterday:
- on the eve of the race of my life
- crossing the finish line
- pictures from race day and this week in coming attractions (2/14-2/20)
Will and I both know what it’s like to be a big guy and not be able to buy clothes at the cool places like Jos. A Banks, The Gap, Brooks Brothers, etc. Since Will has lost so much weight, he has been able to buy clothes from any store of his choice, and he knows how badly I want to do the same. So, he got me the coolest gift from Jos. A Banks, which he said starts my business attire: A 3 pack of handkerchiefs monogrammed with my initials. That is pretty much the only item that i can use from Jos A Banks. Here’s a pic of the handkerchiefs with my race medal and finishers cap:
Will gave those to me as a pre race gift. Handkerchiefs have special meaning for me because my granddad “Gramps” always carried a hanky, and I can’t help but think of Gramps and his hanky when I see a handkerchief.
I also want to thank Tiffany Nevin, Will’s wife, for loaning Will to me every weekend. :)
I started the day early, heading out a 5:30 to pick up Will from his hotel. We parked, mingled momentarily, and then got in starting line. After the moment of silence for Sundeep Caplash, a runner that was killed on a training run for this race, and the opening prayer, we were off.
We started out walking with Mr. Kent Faulk, a reporter with the Birmingham News. He wrote a great post on AL.COM about the race here: http://blog.al.com/spotnews/2011/02/thousands_of_runners_hit_stree.html
Later on, which for me was the highlight of the day, we met and walked with Mr. Les Longshore, the first person that registered ten years ago for the first Mercedes Marathon, and he has participated in all ten Mercedes Marathons. Mr. Longshore’s race number was appropriately number one, and he is eighty-five years young!! Meeting Les really was worth the entire experience!!!
Around mile four I could tell it was time to replace my shoes. I could feel a rub on the bottom of my right foot. It was tolerable, but I knew in the back of my mind that it was going to be a problem later on in the race.
Mile five, Will and I received the devastating news that our friend Jen West blew out her knee :(. Jen was running the full marathon. It was so sad! We love you Jen, and I’m going to give the husband of the year award to her husband Mike!! First, he cooks a mean spaghetti dinner, which we had the night before, and he made her the coolest medal for her race:
It was also around Mile five that I started receiving texts from my friend Chez, she was having trouble with her hamstring, but she was able to fight through the pain and finish the half marathon.
The two biggest hurdles for me yesterday was that I overdressed for the race. I should have worn shorts and one short sleeve shirt. Heat is the biggest enemy that I have on raceday!! Also, I should have gotten some new shoes and broken them in before this race.
Basically the rest of the race was smooth sailing. I did start slowing down because my right foot was killing me, but we trucked along. We received constant well wishes from the crowds, other racers, and even police officers!
Around mile twelve, Sonthe, my nutritionist, joined us for support and to make sure I didn’t grab a beer at the last water stop (yes, they were handing out beer. ) (Also, that was a joke. I only wanted water at that point of the race.)
Finally, my friends Jen West, Chez, Emily, and Laura joined us for the final stretch of the race. There were tons of folks cheering for us at the finish!! It was amazing!!! Valerie, the race director, was waiting for me at the finish line with my medal, beer, and a hug. (THANK YOU, VALERIE!) Here’s the pic:
Here’s our finish line photo:
After the race, we all headed over to Silvertron, my favorite restaurant in Birmingham. I love the atmosphere and staff. I always feel so welcome in there. :)
Here are more blog posts from my friends about the race:
Will and I have already set some new Mercedes goals:
- 2012: Run/Walk the Half!
- 2013: Run the full!
My next race is the Talladega Half Marathon in April!! We start training this Saturday!!!
AGAIN, THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH FOR YOUR SUPPORT!!! YESTERDAY WAS ONLY THE BEGINNING ;)