Mullets, Maniacs, and Moe’s – Mercedes Marathon Weekend, Part 1

Stop yelling at me. It’s not my fault races take a long time to put up pictures, ok? Geeezzzzz

This past weekend was marathon #10 – the Mercedes Marathon in Birmingham, Alabama. Birmingham is a little under six hours from where I live if you happen to hit Atlanta at the right time, so it was a reasonable distance to drive by myself. Interesting fact: I hate driving. I particularly hate driving alone. I have a threshold of about 8 hours before I get real belligerent. Ask T-Rex Runner Mom. It’s best not to call me if I’m on the road by myself, because I automatically hate you for the following reasons: 1) you’re not in the car 2) you’re not experiencing my pain 3) I’m not sleeping. I was pretty excited for this race, though, because I was meeting up with my friend Kate, who you may recall me meeting during the best example yet of my blinding speed the Jacksonville Bank Marathon. She is also running Myrtle Beach this coming weekend, so we planned on having Mercedes be a fun warm up for a flat race where we could maybe PR.

I got to Birmingham about an hour and a half ahead of Kate because she isn’t good at navigating listened to her GPS. I had booked a hotel about 4 miles from the race start. I felt pretty confident because it was a Holiday Inn, and as a Priority Club Member of the IHG hotels group, I have yet to be disappointed.

But sometimes you book a hotel near the airport and forget that the neighborhoods around airports are ghetto aren’t really that nice.

And sometimes those neighborhoods pretty much encompass the whole city, except for downtown.

Inside, the hotel was fine. I pretty much threw my stuff down and ran back out. I had somewhere important to be.

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On my way to Mecca Moe’s I learned my first interesting fact about Birmingham: parking rules there were basically created with the sole purpose of being ignored. I saw people parked in front of “no parking” signs, in emergency zones, in loading zones, in handicapped spots, on grass…the list goes on. I parked in a spot like a civilized person. Also, it was right outside the front door of Moe’s.

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After my delicious burrito, I went back to the hotel and came dangerously close to falling asleep before Kate arrived. I get so tired the day before marathons. It’s almost like my body knows I’m about to torture it, so it tries to store up energy. We headed to the expo as soon as she got in, with plans to come back and nap for an hour before the Marathon Maniacs dinner at 5:30.

We headed to the general vicinity of the expo. I parked in a completely illegal space – hey, when in Rome, right? We showed up at the convention center and started to walk around, but something didn’t seem quite right. For one, there were a lot of mullets. A lot of ripped jeans. Not a lot of running shoes.  That’s not to say that marathon runners can’t have mullets…but they pretty much don’t.  We eventually figured out we were at the car show. So we started asking the staff of the host hotel, which was directly across the street, for directions to the MARATHON expo. Maybe we got bad directions. Maybe I just can’t follow directions. Either way, we walked around outside in the freezing cold and wind for what seemed like an hour but was probably 20 minutes. We started just randomly following people who looked the least like white trash like runners. That didn’t work either. We got there eventually, but neither one of us could feel our hands.

The expo was relatively uneventful. With all the races I’ve been doing lately, it’s starting to become impractical for me to buy clothing at all of them. I do like to purchase pint glasses and mascots when available, but they weren’t in this case. We did get free samples of Coke products though and a free bottle of water, which was pretty much the best thing ever. Free Sprite? Might as well be free Moe’s.

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After our eternal trek to the expo, we only had a little bit of time to go back to the hotel.  Kate showered in an effort to look presentable for the Maniacs dinner. Naturally,  I still took a nap. T-Rex don’t care. T-Rex don’t give a shit. I forgot to mention that on our tour of Birmingham, I noticed that the city tried to make me feel welcome as an honorary Jew.

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Kate and I headed off to the Maniacs dinner, which was held at a teeny tiny little Italian restaurant named Rocky’s. I think she and I both were envisioning, oh, I don’t know, something with waiters, enough tables to seat everyone, stuff like that. Instead, we got the best food ever, some very close quarters, and an awesome time.

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I’m still working on getting the group shot from dinner, but there were probably about 20 or so people that came. It was really nice to be among other crazy people people with similar interests who absolutely do not think it’s unreasonable that I’m running at least 24 marathons this year…because many of them are running more. Kate and I sat with two men from Atlanta at first and then Lori and Marie, who proved to be great company. Lori is a Maniac we met at the expo. Kate saw her wearing her Maniacs shirt and thought it was totally reasonable to walk up to her and say “Hi, what’s your name?” like we’re in freaking kindergarten and this woman knows wtf you’re talking about. Kate and I were not wearing Maniacs gear, so Lori looked at her a little like she had two heads while carefully responding. I eventually interjected that we were both Maniacs too, not creepy stalkers, and we found out that Marie is on her way to becoming a Maniac too. Don’t worry, we’re working on Kate’s social skills regarding Maniac introductions.

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While sitting at the table, Kate whips out her spreadsheet containing all the races she’s done, whether she has registered for them or not, what her time was in each, what state each race is in, etc. I could not stop laughing. Don’t get me wrong, I have a super aggressive marathon planning spreadsheet. It’s a google doc, so I can access if from anywhere. It calculates how much my gas will cost based on the price per gallon and how many miles to the gallon my truck gets and how far it is to each race. But I don’t CARRY IT IN MY PURSE. That shit is color coded!

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Of course, the other Maniacs were SUPER impressed by Kate’s devotion to the cause via her spreadsheet. She made a lot of friends with that. I don’t think they appreciated me mocking her. Too bad so sad. Sorry I’m not sorry.

After a great dinner, we headed back to the hotel. As we were walking back in, one of the employees goes, “Y’all, Whitney DIED! She died! WHITNEY HOUSTON IS DEAD!” Another tragic loss of great talent? Yes. Surprising? Obviously not. In the immortal words of Katt Williams, “Whitney done smoked her knee caps OFF.” So true. But dammit, she can sing. I have fond memories of listening to her cassette tape in one of my mom’s many minivans growing up. Yes. Cassettes. AJ, I’ll explain what that is to you later.

 

IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII wanna dance with somebody. I wanna feel the HEAT with somebody. Yeahhhhhhh I wanna dance with somebody. With somebody who looovveesss me!

The rest of the night was taken up by a Whitney Houston Memorial Dance Party and registering for more marathons. Obviously. 5:00 am comes early, and we were determined to be considerably more successful at finding the starting line than we were at finding the expo, because no one likes a mullet before dawn. No one.

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