Enough is enough. The single digit temperatures that spanned several weeks drove us to begin looking for some warm weather to pull us out of the Tennessee midwinter slump. After researching many half marathons in the southern part of the country we decided to take on the Big Beach Half Marathon in Gulf Shores. Day after day as we watched the forecast for race day we consistently saw rain and thunderstorms threatening to disrupt our grand plan of getting away. At this point, all we could do was hope and pray that we would have a sunny day.
We arrived on Friday evening and took a quick trip to visit The FLORA-BAMA. After a couple of bushwackers, we enjoyed spending time with Big Earl and his band and the Foxy Iguanas dancing the night away. At one point, I looked down at my watch and low and behold- I hit my step goal for the day (which was quite amazing after sitting in the car for hours). Good music will do it to you every time! Two thumbs up to Big Earl and his band- highly recommend if your down in Southern Alabama!
On Saturday we took a trip to the Hang Out, Lulu’s (Jimmy Buffet’s Sisters Place) and Big Beach Brewery. Although the weather was a little glum with little sun during the day, we made the best of it by hanging out with the locals.
Sunday morning came all to fast. As we looked out the window we still had high hopes of having a good running day as the rain had tapered and the starting time was an hour away. We dawned our rain gear and headed out to the race start at the Hang Out – Yes, the race started and ended at a bar- our kind of race 🙂
Along with our fellow runners we set out along route 59 which quickly took us to the trails in Gulf Shore State Park. A beautiful flat, fast and scenic course winded through the park providing a sense of solidarity in a sea of runners. The towering trees and cloudy skies helped to provide some relief from the steaming 95% humidity of the day. Even though we escaped the rain, our bodies ended up becoming drenched from the excess heat caused by the high humidity. Thank goodness the sun decided to hide behind the clouds as I cannot imagine what it would have been like having the high humidity and the sun beating down on our bodies for 13.1 miles.
At mile 11, just when we needed a laugh, we saw a sign that warned us to “not feed the alligators as a fed gator is a dead gator”- a perfect moment for a break, a picture and motivation to run a bit more quickly!
One of the coolest parts of the race took us on the boardwalks over the swampy areas of the park. Running on the wooden elevated boardwalks that went on for several miles provided us with a better vantage point showcasing beautiful panoramic views of the park. The last few miles of the race we ran down the blvd with the white sand dunes on the left side of our bodies providing us with a feeling as though we were running on the beach (although without the sand in our shoes).
After we crossed the finish line we spent time in celebration at the Hang Out enjoying a Tangerine IPA and talking to many of our running comrades that we met along the way. Stories were shared about favorite runs and challenging runs, helping us to plan out our future races for 2018. Sitting at the bar, we met Nancy from Baton Rouge. Nancy shared with us her experience at the Biloxi marathon which also takes place along the beach and is a must run from her perspective- definitely one for our bucket list!
Listening to our stories about running the seven continents together and finding out that the release of our book TWO-GETHER was fresh off the press, Nancy was excited and eager to be the first person to receive a signed copy. At a chance to sell our first book, David made a mad dash for the car to get a copy before she could run away! As he was returning, one of the spectators said to him “ if you still have that kind of energy after running the half- you’re doing pretty darn good!”.
Holding the pen and looking at each other with glowing smiles on our faces; another first for us as a couple. As the ink from our signatures was transformed on the title page it was like a new beginning of our next chapter- one that we hope will provide us with the opportunity to impact and change lives along the way. As we handed Nancy the signed copy the smile on her face from receiving the book and now being able to embark on our journey through our words completes the joint goal we set together a year ago – from ideation (like standing at the starting line) to delivery of our story (like crossing the finish line).
Our first book written and published-done. Our first half marathon of 2018- done. Our first run in Alabama- done. So whats next? Who knows? All we know is this:
“Life is Like a Marathon, Savor Every Mile”
-TWO THUMBS UP- Highly Recommended especially if you like scenic backwoods trail runs without the disruption from traffic.
We loved the fact that we did not have to deal with corrals, just the right size race with very enthusiastic runners. Appreciate all the help from the volunteers and support from the spectators when they were able to “find us” on the path. Loved the HANG OUT- nice open bar and restaurant on the beach with plenty of outside activities to keep the entire family busy and having fun together. Great post-race food including boxed lunches, free drinks and plenty of cookies, bananas and everything one needs to replenish their bodies with the carbs consumed during the race. Thanks to the Parrot Heads for making us feel right at home by placing the Hawaiian leis around our neck as we began our journey on the boardwalk. Also thanks to the special spectator/supporters that brought smiles to our faces as they threw mardi gras beads at us making the last mile a very memorable one! Lastly, thanks to the race director and team for insuring our safety and making this a marathon one that we will always remember and cherish.