A Tale of Two Mercedes.

A Guest Post by Chris the Husband.

Mercedes and I have a history. We loved, and we lost. Ingrid, wherever she is now, is a 2002 SLK AMG, a two-seat retractable hardtop convertible with 350HP. I cling to the happy memories, and think of her fondly when the Spring peeks through the cracks in Winter’s wall.

Mercedes SLK

I’ve been running weekly for 12 years now, nearly always alone, but it takes me a while to reach new heights. Only a few months before I bought Ingrid, in February 2012, I ran my first half-marathon. The local premiere race series in Birmingham is the Mercedes Marathon Weekend, a 5K, children’s events, a half, and a full marathon.

I enjoyed the experience, but after 13.1 miles on that cold morning 3 years ago, I was exhausted, nauseous, and nearly fainted at the finish line after stopping suddenly. I didn’t believe people my size, my age, and my historical activity level could ever live going around the loop again – the Full Mercedes is a double-loop course – so the average half-marathoner gets lapped by the motorcade accompanying the full marathon leaders, generally an exceptionally fit and lanky bunch who are totally killing it running 5 minute miles and blowing past all the water stops.

I was content to be a running loner, and a half-marathoner, and went on about my life, bought the aforementioned convertible at a delightfully depreciated price, and rode off into the sunset on a daily basis.

Fourteen months later, after waving goodbye to Ingrid, who was happily in the hands of another man, I was a newbie member of the Birmingham Track Club, in particular a new regular attender of the Saturday Morning Long Run group that meets at 6am on Saturday mornings at the Trak Shak on 18th Street in Homewood, right down the hill from Vulcan.

Mercedes Training

This is a diverse group of weekend warriors – from easy going 13:00/mile folks to 6:00/mile shirtless guys – and everyone in between. Feel free to come out and run with us anytime. I can’t thank them enough for the friends they’ve become, the encouragement to push myself, or the passion I got to try the unthinkable – the Full Mercedes Marathon.

6000 people start the race, and 4500 stop at 13.1 miles. The rest go around again, with less company, less energy, less pomp, and less circumstance.

The long, lonely second lap was a mountain I wanted to climb.

By now it was the fall of 2013, and although I wanted to – I already mentioned I’m a slow burn on new levels of achievement – I didn’t think I could get ready by February, so I made a year-ahead commitment to run the marathon in 2015, to give me a whole year with the track club to develop my base ahead of the marathon training season.

I stuck with it for all of 2014, and the scorching heat of August with its dripping wet running clothes faded into the marathon training season and rainy December Saturdays doing 17 miles in wet squishing shoes, also with dripping wet running clothes.

The longest training run I did was 22 miles, and for much of it my sore legs made me doubt my endurance, but I was determined to finish the full marathon – walking, crawling, or otherwise.
Race week rolled around, and with a gross sinus infection not getting any better, I got shots on Saturday and began antibiotics before a light supper and an early bedtime. I had only been on antibiotics for about 21 hours when the race started, so my apologies to any runners who grabbed a handful of gummy bears or Vaseline or both out the same bowls that I did.

Sunday morning brought a light rain and a mild temperature, better than the storms forecast earlier in the week. I had no time or pace goals for this day – merely to survive – so I ran at a comfortable pace, whatever that meant at the time, and I crossed the finish line 5 hours and 18 minutes later, with a group of BTC friends waiting and cheering, escorting me in, videoing, and high-fiving.

Mercedes Marathon

I wasn’t about to die. I wasn’t nauseous. I didn’t want to faint. I could have kept going. I felt far better this day than I had 3 years before after half the distance.

Mercedes Medals

All 38 years and 200 pounds of me crossed the finish line of a full marathon with breath and energy to spare. The chubby 2nd grader in my yearbook cannot believe it. So the truth is, a bunch of you people could totally do this. Maybe not on your own, but with a little help from your friends.

And I’m at peace with Ingrid. I wish her well in her new life. I’m Team Mercedes all the way.

Top Secrets Learned about Rachel.

Here’s the thing. When you’ve never met someone in real life or even had a single phone conversation with them, but then come and live at their house for five days, you learn a lot about them in a short amount of time. In a normal friendship, these peculiarities are spread out over such a long period of time that the person in question might seem normal. Perhaps not as much in the friendship of Heather-The-Blog-Reader-From-Mozambique and myself.

Ergo, this list was born.

A guest post, by Heather The Missionary.

Top Secret

19 Secrets I Learned about Rachel.

1. Her basement is a death trap.

2. She bathes her kids even less than she claims.

3. She has serious angst when hitting publish on her blog posts.

4. Hospitality is not her gift. (But it is her husband’s.)

5. She enjoys listening to “Dreaming with Jeff” and can be found late at night giggling along to his “soothing” voices.

6. She drinks energy shots like a teenage boy.

7. She enjoys a good fruity cocktail at the end of a long day (but then.. who DOESN’T?)

8. Her back porch is an accident waiting to happen (yet she sends her hubby out there to BBQ.)

9. She has pet names for her SUV (and all SUVs like it.)

10. She doesn’t know why anyone reads blogs. For real.

11. It’s a good thing she homeschools because she would NEVER have her kids at school by seven every morning! (Eight would be pushing it too.) (And also nine.)

12. If she had a chance at another career…. Graffiti Artist is a completely viable option.

13. She loves to show off all things southern – especially food! But only if she doesn’t have to cook it.

14. She stinks at fast forwarding in a manner that doesn’t frustrate the entire room.

15. She’s having an affair with Chick-fil-a.

16. She is the strangest mix of introvert/extrovert…Like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde only neither side of her is a psychopathic villain.

(That she knows of.)

17. She freaks out in the middle of the night approximately one week before she has visitors and sends long, rambling disclaimers via Facebook about how she is not as much fun in person and really quite high maintenance.

18. She runs over a lot of curbs.

19. She collects lint from the dryer on her windowsill.

Bonus one added by me…

20. She simply cannot HANDLE a list of 19 items. 19?! An odd number, a prime number, AND one away from a nice even number? Unacceptable.

Birmingham, Meet Meat. Meat, Meet Birmingham. {Giveaway}

Guest Post by Contributing Editor, Chief Husband, and Meat Expert Chris.

There are certain pivotal moments in the history of the world when things change for the better, when life as we know it receives an upgrade to its operating system that – like Siri, or Instagram adjustable filter intensity – opens the door to a richness of experience that was previously unimaginable.

I like to think that this was one of those moments.

So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs.

Genesis 9:1-3

Much of humanity, including Rachel and I, have since had a love affair with meat. Birmingham is a great city for meat lovers. You can’t sling a pair of oversized sweatpants in this town without hitting a Barbeque restaurant. So when the opportunity came to try the newest addition to Birmingham’s meaty repertoire, I pretty much fell all over myself to get there.

Welcome to Texas de Brazil, in the new Uptown district.

Texas De Brazil 1

It is fancy and casual at the same time, with a passionate décor and a comfortable vibe. It might be date night, but there are no illusions – everyone knows why you’re here. The meal begins with vast array of salads, soups, appetizers, and side dishes, but don’t get the wrong idea. This glorious buffet could be a meal unto itself, and is offered as such, if you so desire.

Texas De Brazil 8

As if marinated mozzarella balls, antipasto meats and cheeses, sushi rolls, and shrimp weren’t enough, there is a big bowl of bacon. Not bits. Legit pieces of freshly cooked bacon, stacked in a bowl, to feast upon at your discretion.

To whet your appetite for this:

Texas De Brazil 7

An endless supply of freshly prepared cuts of steak, chicken, lamb, pork, and Brazilian sausage that each bring a juicy high-five to your evening. As long as you leave your sign flipped to green, the happy swordsmen keep coming and carving onto your plate.

Texas De Brazil 4

They of course also bring extra side dishes to cleanse your palate between meats, because we are, after all, only human. Overall, it’s not just the kind of place you want to come back to. It’s the kind of place you want to bring a friend so you can watch them enjoy it for the first time.

Texas De Brazil 3

So, to help you enjoy the excess responsibly, here are my pro tips:

Fast before you go.

Sleep it off as soon as possible.

Remember it fondly. I certainly do.

And win this gift card for $50 to help your meal along. To enter, just comment on this post and tell me who the biggest carnivore in your life is. This contest is open until Monday, September 8 and the winner will be announced on the Giveaway Winner’s Page on September 9. This gift card is good for all Texas De Brazil locations, so check this list to see if there is one near you. Best of luck and eat some meat!

Disclosure: Our meal was complimentary. There was no agreement that a blog would be provided, so my passion for their work is absolutely authentic.