Phew: –interjection (used as an exclamation to express disgust, exhaustion, surprise, impatience, relief, etc.)
I’ve been trying to think of a word to properly described the past couple of weeks, and it finally came to me as I sat down to write this blog. PHEW!! I thought that sigh of relief would come much earlier, perhaps even the Monday following Mercedes weekend, but NOOOOOO! The running Gods have blessed us with a taste of Spring, and it seems everyone needs shoes! Believe you me, this is no complaint, but busy days at the store mean no sitting in the office writing a blog.
You’ll be happy to know, I reached my goal of finishing the Mercedes Half Marathon!! Now, before you start your sarcastic,WHOOPITY DOO’S, allow me to tell you why this was a bigger challenge than you may think. You may remember in a previous blog a mention of some lower leg issues I was having while training. My diligent efforts of massaging, icing, stretching, and compression sock wearing paid off!! I was able to complete a pain free 10 miler the Saturday before Mercedes, which gave me a little more confidence leading up to “race” day. Furthermore, Scott and I don’t actually make the days leading up to “race” day, what one would call, ideal. Our Mercedes weekend starts on Wednesday with a gathering of all our left over winter apparel and shoes, which are collected from all three stores and then loaded on a truck. Said items are then transported to Boutwell on Thursday, and organized into an expo, Trak Shak, retail experience! The REAL fun begins when the doors of the expo are opened, and Scott and I begin our “winter clearance marathon” standing all day Friday and Saturday behind registers, properly positioned just beside a bottomless cooler full of icy cold bottled Budweiser and Bud Light!
Needless to say, the legs were a little fatigued and parched come Sunday morning! So, I awake, strap on my glowing Puma Faas 500’s and head to the start! My race plan: DON’T CRAMP! Also, my friends Wayne and Abercrombie told me they were planning to run 7:15’s, which I thought would be reasonable. The race begins, and allow me to say, Birmingham provided weather nothing short of PERFECT! Dead legs would be the proper description for miles 1 thru 3! Luckily our pace landed us right next to the cross dressing, ultra marathoning, just a tad freaky, celebrity of the Mercedes Marathon Mr. Gerald McGwin (see photo)!! The cheers of “THAT’S THE PRETIEST WOMAN I EVER SAW” and “NICE NET STOCKINGS” guided us through Highland Avenue without a hitch and on pace!!
Now, I knew the real challenge of this race for me, along with not cramping, was going to be miles 10 – 13.1! Approaching 10 miles, at the water stop in Forest Park on Clairmont, I slowed to shake hands with some friends and, of course, grab some water. I got through the stop, looked around to find my compatriots and one in particular was not beside me as he had been for the entire race. I looked up a little further and see the former, collegiate track and cross country athlete up on his toes, like “olden” times, trying to gap me! Nothing like a little friendly competition to keep your motor running through those tough, late miles. I gradually picked up my pace and passed Ab around 10.5 miles. I had to focus so much on not letting him get back to me, and again, not cramping, I forgot to stop and get a beer at the infamous beer and doughnuts stop sponsored by our friends from the Birmingham Track Club, and I really wanted a beer!
I’m not sure what it is about running down 20th Street to the finish, but it is one of, if not, my favorite finish to a race! I have to admit, during a race most of the time I’m thinking to myself, “When will this street end?!”, but there’s nothing like seeing Linn Park and the crowd once you cross 6th Avenue! I crossed the finish line at 1:31 and change, and actually felt pretty good! PHEW! Then it was on to the after party with friends and refreshments! WHAT A GREAT DAY!!!
I can’t express enough gratitude to all who walked up to us at The Trak Shak tent after the race and thanked us for a great day and event! I can only say thanks in return and give credit where credit is truly due! If you have the opportunity, shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and thank the ladies at the Birmingham Events office! They work their butts off to ensure all the weekend’s participants have a great experience! Particularly, thank Valerie McLean! Her dedication to this event and the running community in Birmingham deserves much praise!
What’s next? DEGA BABY!!