My First Half Marathon: The 2011 Mercedes Half Marathon

by Stephen Vinson on February 14, 2011

in Uncategorized

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.

Will Nevin

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:

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.  :)

The Race

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:

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:

Emily’s Post:

Jen’s Post:

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!!!


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Lalabomba March 3, 2011 at 7:10 pm

Congratulations on updating your Life Resume, is such an amazing fashion.

Mel Edwards February 20, 2011 at 10:46 pm

You’ve been on my mind all week, and I wanted to let you know that you’re AMAZING and wonderful and I’m so proud of you!

Carol February 17, 2011 at 4:16 am

I checked in just to see if you made it Stephen. Congratulations. I’m so glad it went well. Hang in there.

whoatemyblog February 17, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Thank you, Carol. Oh yes, I made it. :)

Jennifer February 16, 2011 at 10:30 pm

This is so awesome! Congrats and good luck with all your goals! I plan to run/walk my first half in April and you’re such an inspiration. Great job!

whoatemyblog February 17, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Good luck on your half in April!!! My second half marathon is in April. :)

Jamie Crosby February 16, 2011 at 8:44 pm

Congrats Stephen, job well done!

whoatemyblog February 17, 2011 at 2:54 pm

Thank you, Jamie.

Jmusselman February 16, 2011 at 1:57 am

Stephen, I saw you on the way to the start. I said to my husband, look at that man. Isn’t that awesome, if he is going to do the race today. I went buy you when you were at about the 9 mile mark. You looked so good and I let you know it. I always say it only takes the first step. After that you know you will finish. Well, Stephen, you took that first step 2 years ago. You will no doubt finish this journey of yours! All the best to you, my friend.

whoatemyblog February 17, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Oh yes, I’m finishing what I started. :) Thank you

Allison Crusoe February 15, 2011 at 10:45 pm

CONGRATS! I ran my very first half marathon on the same day! I know how you feel and I am SOO inspired by your story! :)

whoatemyblog February 17, 2011 at 2:57 pm

The feeling is amazing. It’s funny, the more time that goes by after the half, the prouder I am of the accomplishment.

Thank you :)

Bridget Wright February 15, 2011 at 2:28 pm

Stephen, awesome job!! Your story ALWAYS gives me goose bumps!

whoatemyblog February 17, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Bridget, it was so nice to finally meet you!!!!!!!!! :)

Sonusingh 4367 February 15, 2011 at 11:55 am


Alan February 15, 2011 at 4:14 am

Awesome job man!!! What an inspiration!

whoatemyblog February 17, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Thank you, Alan.

Sean Anderson February 15, 2011 at 2:49 am

I’m beaming for you, my friend. Absolutely stunning. Well done on all accounts!!

My best always

whoatemyblog February 17, 2011 at 3:04 pm

Thank you, Sean!!

Tim February 14, 2011 at 10:04 pm

Amazing!!! Well done!!!!!!!!!

whoatemyblog February 17, 2011 at 3:04 pm

Thank you, Tim!

Emily Sandford February 14, 2011 at 8:34 pm

Amazing, Stephen. This makes me so pumped and way less scared about my first half in April. Be proud, my friend.

whoatemyblog February 17, 2011 at 3:04 pm

There’s nothing to be afraid of!!! Thank you!

Sean Connolly February 14, 2011 at 8:24 pm

Well done! I love the photo with the race director!

whoatemyblog February 17, 2011 at 3:05 pm

Valerie (the race director) is such a sweetie!!!

Thank you!

Jack Sh*t February 14, 2011 at 7:44 pm

You’ve come a long way, baby. No, I’m serious… that’s a long f*ckin’ way.

whoatemyblog February 17, 2011 at 3:05 pm

Tell me about it!! Thank you, Jack!

katie's mom February 14, 2011 at 7:28 pm

Stephen, I am a friend of Jen West’s and since she first posted about you on her FB page, I have been following your blog. I wanted to tell you how inspiring you are and (even though you don’t know me) how proud I am of you and your accomplishments! Congrats again and keep it up…I know that like Jen, you will reach your goal!!! :)

whoatemyblog February 17, 2011 at 3:05 pm

Thank you :)

Stacia February 14, 2011 at 7:06 pm

do some recovery walking in water this week if you can Stephen and great JOB!!!!!

whoatemyblog February 17, 2011 at 3:06 pm

We went Tuesday for Aqua jogging, and we might be going back tonight. :)

Honib1 February 14, 2011 at 6:40 pm

Way to go.. had I been able to walk well I would have come down and watched.. I think my husbands son was running in the full but not sure…
I have a walking boot on now.. but .. I have no idea why they call it a walking book it more like a trip step stumble boot… ha..

best to u!

whoatemyblog February 17, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Thank you :)

Heather Milam February 14, 2011 at 6:24 pm

Saw you on Highland Ave and you looked strong! See you at ‘Dega! Keep up the journey!

whoatemyblog February 17, 2011 at 3:07 pm

See you at Dega, Heather! Thank you!!

Janis February 14, 2011 at 6:19 pm

Stephen, this is fabulous. Absolutely fantastic! Enjoy the view from up there on Cloud Nine!

whoatemyblog February 17, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Thank you :)

MorticiA February 14, 2011 at 6:18 pm

Stephen, you are absolutely amazing! What an adventure! I held my breath a few times, reading your blog account. Congrats!

whoatemyblog February 17, 2011 at 3:08 pm

Thank you, Morticia!!

Will Nevin February 14, 2011 at 6:08 pm

It. Was. A. Blast. Already looking forward to the race in ‘Dega, champ.

whoatemyblog February 17, 2011 at 3:09 pm

I saw that you signed up already!! Thank you for being the best walking partner!!! :)

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