This may very well be the biggest undertaking of my life. I have signed up to run a half-marathon.
You're probably thinking to yourself... "Derek? 13.1 miles? Are you ready for that? Do you think you can actually do it?" And you would be perfectly sane in that line of thinking. I've asked myself the same thing over and over. But, somehow I have found myself signed up for this. So crazy or not, here's how it all came about.
My life-long friend, Margaret, posted a link on Facebook last week suggesting that a group of us old friends get together and run this. She thought it would be a great way to reunite with old friends while doing something healthy for ourselves as well. There'll be bands and other entertainment all along the race course. The race winds all around through some of New Orleans' most beautiful historic areas. Then after the race, there's a concert in City Park featuring Cowboy Mouth and Sister Hazel. Cool stuff.
To be honest, I half-way thought about it and moved on. But Margaret persisted. And then I started noticing others that were talking about doing it. And it looked like a fun group of folks. At least 20 years ago they were. So I responded with a "Maybe" and started mentioning it to Heather.
I figured she'd say I was crazy. But she didn't. So I kept bringing it up in conversation, and she acted like it was ok with her. Hmmmm.....
So the other night, I told her that I thought I really thought that this was something I wanted to do. It would give me something to work toward (actually a whole lot to work toward), and it would be a great weekend trip for the 2 of us. We've been wanting to get down to New Orleans anyway, we just haven't actually sat down and made the plans to go.
Then yesterday, we had a meeting for some City budget stuff, and the mayor asked if I was sticking to my running on a daily basis. I then opened up my mouth and told him about the 1/2 marathon. His face lit up and he got all excited, and then he started telling me about how he had run the full marathon in New Orleans last year and how much fun it was. He kept saying how great it was that I was doing this, and how fulfilling it was going to be when I completed the race.
Well even if I wanted to change my mind I'm not going to now. He's going to keep asking me about it when I see him and he's going to make sure I continue to train and prepare myself for it. Which really is a good thing. He's an avid runner, and he can probably offer some great advice. And I can sure use all the advice I can get.
I got online yesterday and registered. I'm in with both feet now.
So. February 28th, 2010. 7am. New Orleans. 13.1 miles.
Well the turkey was great and the dressing was fine, We saw all the kinfolks and had a good time, We had leftovers for supper and we took out the trash, Now get ready for game day and the Iron Bowl bash...
The game's in the east, over by Opelika, You can ride in your car or hitch on with a biker, Or if you ain't got the ticket, the time or the gas to burn, You can sit on the couch and suffer through Gary and Verne...
Auburn comes in seven and four on the season, And if you've got the time, they've got the reasons, Injuries, depth, coaching changes, they've rehearsed it like singers, Plus Tubberville left and took all his fingers...
But the War Eagle folks aren't in a 'tizik', They got a new coach, that fella named Chizik, They've won seven games, they're as happy as can be, And, shoot, 3 of those wins were in the S.E.C....
They like their new coach, and if they don't, that's a shame It just took folks six months to remember his name, But at Bama our coach is more well-known by far, 'Bout what you'd expect ---from a movie star...
Auburn's fired up and hoping for the upset, They're buying up all the toilet paper they can get, But when the Tide starts risin', and their knees turn to jelly, They might need that paper for the upset in their belly...
This year Bama's eleven and oh again, And it's a mighty big shame that Pride is a sin, 'Cause when we say "Roll Tide!" we sure don't mumble, If you're a Bama fan it's hard to be humble...
And speaking of humble, Auburn's guy, Ben Tate, Came right out and said that he's the best in the state! He was serious, he meant it, it wasn't a joke, I guess nobody told all of those Heisman folks?
See, they think the best back is that Ingram kid, Mark Because, as they say, "he runs it out of the park", With a few good blocks we'll hear Eli's call, loud and true, "Touchdown Alabama!, ball carried by Twenty-Two"...
But the Bama defense has really played well, It's even been described as "six seconds of hell", The Tide comes from all sides, like water jets from a fountain, And in the middle of 'hell' stands a mighty big mountain...
Tiger fans should remember Rolando McClain, It's really quite easy, his name rhymes with 'Pain', That's what they'll be feelin' from this all star head-hunter, And a busy day at work for the War Eagle punter...
We expect a good game and the licks will be violent, The Tide fans hope that Jordan-Hare will be silent, Except for the cheers for the crimson and white, As they light up the scoreboard and tell Aubie, "Good night"...
They say "It ain't braggin', if you really can do it", And the Crimson Tide is ready to get to it, On the menu Friday night is War Eagle gizzard, And then, next week, "Here! Lizard, Lizard, Lizard..."
I don't even remember the last time I sat down and wrote on here. I know it's not really an excuse, but I truly have been so busy I haven't had time for much at all.
I haven't even written about Alabama football. However, we have been on the quad before and after each home game so far this year. It's been great, and of course we love getting together with everybody. And speaking of football, what the hell is wrong with Lane Kiffin? What a whiney little jerk!
We're still working on the fertility thing. Our first round of IUI resulted in a negative test. But we're not letting that get us down. We're still doing the shots and trying for a baby, and when God wants it to happen for us it will. We're also looking at adoption agencies and trying to decide which one will be best for us.
We stayed on the road all this past weekend. Mama's sister, Laura, passed away last Thursday. The funeral was Saturday in Graceville, Florida. So Heather and I drove down to Mama's Friday evening and went to the funeral with them. Then Saturday evening we came back to Mama's, and then back home, so that we could be up and in Birmingham at the fertility clinic for bloodwork on Sunday morning. We ate sushi for lunch and did some shopping while we were in Birmingham, and then came home and chilled out the rest of the evening.
I ended up getting the Associate Finance Director job here at the City. The fact that I was doing 2 jobs is a large part of why I've been so busy. But we have interviewed for my old position and hope to have it filled in the next week. Then things can begin to get better.
Thanks for being patient. I have still been keeping up with you guys. Just haven't been able to share.
I'm beginning to think I may need an ark. It has rained and rained and rained in Tuscaloosa. We've had our ferns out in the yard for the past week, and they are loving it! And my grass has never been greener.
But there are times when I wish the rain would stop. And there were several of those times this past weekend.
Thursday night, Heather came in from the hospital and said that she thought something had bit her all over. She was itching and her skin was blotchy. She took some benadryl and went to bed. Then Friday morning, she woke up looking like a freak show. She was swollen all over and was covered in hives. So she went to the doctor and found out that she was having a reaction to the antibiotics that she was taking for the crud she'd had the week before. They gave her a shot and put her on a week of steroids, and it seems to be helping a little.
Friday night, our friend Jessica came over while Chris was doing ballgame parking stuff with the Scouts. We sat outside until the rain forced us back in, and then Heather and Jessica worked on shelling the peas I had brought home Thursday.
Notice how Heather looks like a China-man with her swollen eyes.
Saturday morning, we woke to heavy showers outside. I had gone out to the Quad at noon on Friday and put our tents out. So on Saturday, we just had to take the chairs and cooler and food. We got ready and headed on over and were on the Quad a few minutes past 8am. Chris and Jessica arrived shortly after.
We normally have a huge tailgating group. But this weekend, the usual folks weren't making it out there for one reason or another. So since it was just the 4 of us, we decided to keep things simple.
But our lives are never simple.
It was raining when we got out on the Quad. And when we got to our spot, one of the tents had collapsed under the weight of all the rain. So I got absolutely drenched from the start. But I got the tent somewhat put back together, and we finally got things set up so we could relax.
Sorry those pics are so blurry. Something funny was going on with the camera on my phone.
The sun finally came out, and of course the Tide rolled and rolled! It was a great day!
We did end up getting wet one more time before we left the Quad, so yesterday I hung everything out to dry before packing it all back up.
This should be a big weekend for us. Arkansas may put up a fight. I'm sure we'll be ready for them though.
I have 2 things to write about today. And the first is how pumped up I am for this coming weekend. It's our first gameday in Tuscaloosa, and we've been phoning and emailing with all our tailgate crew to get ready for the big day.
This past Saturday, the Tide rolled over VA Tech in Atlanta! As I told you a while back, I sold my tickets this year and watched the game at home with friends.
Friday afternoon, I was just sick over my decision. I just couldn't believe I had actually thought to do such a thing. What kind of a fan am I?
Then Saturday morning, I got up to a rainy day. Clouds and rain were doing nothing to boost my spirits. I turned on ESPN Gameday and then turned it off. I couldn't watch it.
So I loaded up Hershey and we went over to Chris and Jessica's to help them with a landscape project they were working on. Jessica's parents were here from Pelham to help, and they actually had very little left to do when Hershey and I arrived. It poured down rain at one point, and we had to move under the porch for a bit, but after about 2 hours, their back yard was finished. I took a couple of pictures with my phone. I'm sure they won't mind me sharing.
The area with all the rocks was an area where the water just poured through their back yard. So Chris built a "dry creek bed" for the water to flow through. Since it was constantly raining, we all got to see that it works as planned. They did a great job, and quite frankly, I am now wanting to do the same in the bottom part of our yard where the rainwater flows from the neighbors yard on its way to the creek out back.
About 4pm, Adam go to the house and we started watching the Georgia game. Then our friends, Libby and Megan, from Birmingham arrived. Then Jack & Leigh Kennedy with their new little girl, Emma. (Emma only stayed about 30 minutes since she has only been home from the hospital a week. Then Leigh's mom came and took her back home.) Then Chris and Jessica, and Katie and Aidan and Ethan all arrived.
I'm sorry, but I forgot to take pictures. I'm not sure all of the food would have fit in a picture anyway. I had lost about 20 pounds until Saturday, and I'm sure over the past couple of days, I have put 5 of them back on.
We ate and drank and cheered on the Tide (and Auburn, too). And it was a great night for the Tide and the Tigers both. We have such great friends, and I didn't regret my decision to stay in town one bit! It was an awesome night!
I made something new that our friend, Debbie Watson, makes. It's a cheese ring with strawberry preserves. Oh my gosh, it was so good. I told several people Saturday night that I would share the recipe, and most of them read this, so I'll share with all of ya'll. Here goes....
1 pound of finely shredded cheddar (sharp and mild mixed) 2 cups of mayo 1 package of cooked bacon pieces 1 tsp cayenne pepper 3 or 4 finely chopped green onions strawberry preserves
Mix everything except the preserves together in a bowl.
Then pour into a round mold. (I didn't have a round mold, so I used a flat round pyrex dish, lined it with plastic wrap, and put a small round dish in the middle to leave a hole.)
Cover and refrigerate overnight.
When you get ready to serve, turn the whole thing over onto a plate, or cake server, or whatever you want. Then remove the mold and the plastic wrap.
Fill the center with the preserves and spread preserves over the entire top of the cheese mold.
We served ours with Sociables and Wheat Thins and it was good with both.
Note: I do have a fish mold, but Heather told me that the preserves would make it look like a bloody fish, and I didn't think that would be too appetizing.
I may do this again for the tailgate this weekend.
Every morning on my way to work I pass this little drive-thru coffee shop called "Cuppy's." For a while there, I stopped every morning. I kinda got hooked on their vanilla latte, and thought I couldn't start my day without one.
At the same time, I was on a big time diet, but I never even thought about the calories in that latte until Heather's sister pointed it out to me. Cheryl works for Royal Cup Coffee in Birmingham, so she's our go-to person when it comes to anything coffee related. She told me that I should ask for a "skinny" latte, which is made with skim milk instead of whole, and that I should ask for sugar-free vanilla syrup. So I changed to that.
Then Cuppy's changed the syrup to another brand, and my coffee started having a medicinal after-taste to it. So I quit it cold turkey and just started drinking coffee at the office.
Until this week.
I've stopped 3 times and until today I've just gotten a large regular coffee. But this morning I thought I'd try the latte again.
"I'd like a large sugar-free vanilla skinny latte, please."
Maybe I spoke too fast for the girl to understand. Or maybe it was just too early in the morning for communication. Regardless, when she handed me my drink, I thought, "what the hell is this?"
Yeah, that's ice. In my coffee.
I've heard of iced coffees, and I've seen them in the cooler at convenience stores, and I've always thought that sounded pretty nasty. So when she handed me an iced latte, I figured I'd just wasted $4 and some change.
There it is. The very thing that has been keeping me away from you all so long. It's the Mayor's budget recommendation, and it has consumed my life for the past month. Last night he presented his budget to the City Council in the form of a power point presentation. The news is bleak. We have a lot less to operate with this year than last year.
But Tuscaloosa is in a whole lot better shape than other cities in our state, and we should weather this economic storm and be ok.
So over the next 3 weeks, the council will go over the budget line by line and should have the final draft ready to adopt on September 29th.
Maybe I'll have time to write a little more. I still haven't posted about our fishing trip weekend before last. Thanks for hanging in there with me.
So sorry it's been so long since I've written. It's Budget Time at the City, and things have been wildly busy.
A couple of weeks ago, I told ya'll that Heather's brother, Hess, and I were taking a boat trip. Hess mentioned to me one night that he wanted to go down to Orange Beach via the river, and since I'd always wanted to do the same thing, I jumped on that bandwagon and we started making plans.
Almost immediately, we were met with opposition. You'd have thought we were trying to sail to Timbuktu.
"Ya'll will never make it."
"Do you know how far that is?"
"You need a bigger boat."
"You're camping on a sandbar in the middle of nowhere? Better listen for banjos!"
We didn't care though. We were going to make it come hell or high water.
So on Friday night, Heather's parents took us to Myrtlewood and we launched the boat into the Tombigbee River. It was about 7pm. Hess' wife, Carrie, would leave the next morning with the truck and trailer and meet us at the beach.
We had that boat loaded down. We had tanks and cans with 50 gallons of extra fuel. We both had our backpacks loaded down with extra clothes and gear. We had my tent, our sleeping bags, our sleeping pads, and Hess' camp stove (for coffee the next morning.) We also had a cooler with ice and drinks. We were ready.
Hess had gotten the marine application for his GPS, and I had written down the coordinates at our marina the week before when Heather and I were down there. So we knew kinda where we were going.
The original plan was to head down the river to Ezell's and eat catfish for supper, but Carrie fed us spaghetti with homemade cheese bread that she bought from the Mennonites before we left, so we kept on going past Ezell's and figured we'd go for couple of hours and camp.
Mama had called me the night before and reminded me that the Army Corps of Engineers has a campground just north of the Coffeeville dam. I told her that there'd be no way we'd make it that far Friday night. But I was wrong.
We had been traveling for a while. And it had gotten dark. And then darker. And I couldn't see where I was going anymore. So I told Hess to keep looking for a sandbar, and that we would need to stop at the next one he found. But we were in kind of a swampy area, and there were no sandbars to be found. So we just kept going.
This is about where Hess started wigging out on me. When he'd turn the spotlight on, all you could see was a wall of bugs. I knew they were there because about a dozen had already flown into my mouth and eyes. But they kind of freaked Hess out a little. Then he shined his light off to the side of the boat, and a crane was sitting on a limb that was sticking up out of the water pretty close to the boat. So we were probably a little shallower than we should have been at 30mph in the darkness.
Around the next bend, we saw the beginnings of lights ahead. All along the riverbank was all these lights. It was the campground, and it was about 9:30pm. We had made it to Coffeeville! The next thing we saw was this big reflective "Warning! Submerged Dam Ahead!" sign. And this time we both freaked. I slowed down to a crawl and we turned ourselves around and away from the dam. I wanted no part of that freaky thing at night.
We headed up to the Corps of Engineers campground and found a grassy spot with a seawall in front of it, so we tied the boat and set up the tent. It was hot and muggy, and I nearly sweated myself to death in that tent, but we managed to get a few hours sleep before somebody came by and blew a horn at us around 6am.
I think we really should have registered and paid to camp. But what were we supposed to do at 9:30 when we obviously couldn't keep traveling south?
Hess made coffee and some breakfast while I took down the tent and packed the boat. It was about this time that I realized my cell phone was completely dead. And it had been fully charged the night before. Hmmmmm....
Hess filled up the tank, and commented that we were burning quite a bit of gas. But we weren't worried, because we had mapped out marinas along the way. So we were pretty sure gas would not be a problem.
Hess called the lockmaster and told him we wanted to lock through. We were told it would be about an hour because a tug boat was coming through. We could go after him. So we took our time getting ready to go, and then the boat wouldn't start.
We tried and tried and tried to crank it, but no luck. Hess took the cover off of the motor and I tried cranking again while he looked around. Then he saw why we had burned so much gas. We had a hole in the fuel line. And a big hole at that. So Hess started saying something about calling Carrie to come and get us. But I persisted. We could call Daddy to bring us a fuel line. He was only about 30 miles from us at that point. Or we could try to just fix it. Which Hess did. He cut off the line at the point of the hole, and finally got it reattached.
And the boat still wouldn't crank.
You know how sometimes you just know that you are in a certain place for a reason? Well there was a reason we made it all the way to that campground Friday night. A couple from Grove Hill, AL was fishing with trot-lines and saw that we were having trouble. And the man was a mechanic. Now how about that?
He helped us for about an hour with no luck. Then when we were about to give up hope again, he mentioned the kill switch. I unclipped it, put it back on, turned the key, and the motor came to life! Whew! I almost thought we were going to have to call Carrie afterall.
We rode back up to Bobby's Fish Camp and refilled the tanks with gas. Then we called the lockmaster again. We had both noticed that no barge had come by us. And this was a couple of hours later than our first call. The lockmaster told us that the barge had broken down, but that it was back up and running and would be out in about 20 minutes. It actually took about 45 minutes, but we were finally able to get through and keeping heading downriver.
You see things so much differently from the river than from the car. We were basically running close to parallel with Highway 43, and we could tell from the GPS what towns we were passing. I grew up in Jackson, but had to look twice when we went under the Joe McCorquodale Bridge. Then later on we passed Thyssen-Krupp, the new steel plant that is being built in Calvert. It is huge and so much more impressive from the water.
The weather was perfect, and the scenery was absolutely beautiful. We were seeing parts of our state that we had never seen before. And we were having a blast.
We kept looking at the GPS for guidance, because the river has a lot of turns and quite a few forks, and for the most part we did fine. But just north of Mobile, we took a left when we should have taken a right. We had planned to follow the shipping channels to Mobile and cross over the tunnel, but instead we ended up following the course of the Bartram Canoe Trail and bypassed Mobile, heading instead toward Daphne and the Eastern Shore. Which worked out just fine for us.
About 3pm we entered Mobile Bay. It was here that we filled up with gas for the 3rd and final time. I then pointed the boat toward Point Clear and we headed across the bay.
Up until this point, the ride had been fairly smooth. But when we enter the waters of Mobile Bay, the winds picked up and the water got really choppy. I had to slow down to keep from being knocked through the bottom of the boat.
We rounded Point Clear and headed on to our destination, the intercoastal waterway. We could see Fort Morgan road in front of us, and knew that we needed to be headed toward the Gulf Shores end of the road. So we used that as a guide.
One thing we noticed was that from out in Mobile Bay, you can actually see both Fort Morgan in Gulf Shores, and Fort Conde in Mobile. We both agreed that we had always wondered how those fort actually protected Mobile Bay when they were so far apart. But being out there in the middle of them brought a new light to how things must have worked. The forts didn't seem that far apart afterall.
We found the intercoastal waterway with no problems, and followed it along until we got to our marina. It was 5:10pm.
We made it.
We got off the boat and fatigue hit us both about the same time. We were hot, sweaty, salty, and both in need of showers. Carrie and the kids were headed down the street to the "Little Beach", a neighborhood beach area, and were surprised to see us so soon.
Hess at that point admitted that he was surprised too. I couldn't believe it. I had full intentions of making it. And we did.
We all went out and ate at the Fish Camp for supper. And after over 300 miles on the water, and then an all you can eat seafood buffet, I was down for the count.
We've talked about making the trip again. We've done it once, so we could do it better the next time. And although we'll definitely have fun doing it again, this first time had that excitement of the unknown to it that the future trips probably won't. But who knows what the next one will have in store? You just never can tell.
Heather's brother, Hess, has a new boat. It's a 19 foot Carolina Skiff. And he's itching to take it on a trip.
So Friday afternoon, I'm heading down to Demopolis to meet up with Hess. From there, we will drive down to Myrtlewood and launch the boat in the Tombigbee River. And we're heading to Orange Beach.
I've always wanted to make the trip by river, but never have had the opportunity. So I am excited as heck about this!
We're planning to travel a few hours on Friday and then camp out on a sandbar. We've discussed tents, and I realized yesterday afternoon that I have a tent that I had forgotten about. It's a 4 man, which will be great. Otherwise, it's a 1 man backpacking tent or a big huge walk around inside tent.
Saturday morning we'll hit the water again bright and early. We figure it will take 16 hours or so.
We've mapped out the marinas and Hess has borrowed extra gas cans. So we should be good there. And I've started gathering my camping stuff and a few bare necessities in a corner of the kitchen.
Heather made sure I have plenty of batteries, so I'll be able to document the whole adventure. Should be interesting.
Hess' wife is heading down Saturday morning with the truck and boat trailer. So if we have problems along the way, she could always stop and get us. But we're hoping for no problems and smooooooth sailing. Except we won't really be in a sailboat.
No matter what happens, we'll have fun. And years from now, we'll be able to look back and say,
"Remember when we boated all the way to Orange Beach?"
"Remember when we had the crazy idea to take the BOAT to Orange Beach?"
I'm doing something that I never thought I'd ever do.
I'm selling my Alabama vs Virginia Tech tickets on StubHub.
It just about killed me to do it. But when I weighed going to Atlanta and spending $500 on the weekend, or selling the tickets and making a little cash, common sense won out for a chance.
Last year, Adam and Katie went with us to Atlanta to the Clemson game. Adam and I went to the game, and Heather and Katie went Atlanta shopping. And it was a whole lot of fun. That is until the girls wanted to tour the World of Coke after Adam and I had stayed out til 4 in the morning. We had a great time, but as always, we spent the tar out of some money.
Heather works that weekend, anyway, so she couldn't go this year. And I've committed myself to buying 150 ft of red and white candy cane rope lights to go around all 4 of the tents at our tailgate. Not cheap! So I've told all my friends, and what the heck... I'll tell ya'll too. We'll watch it at our house. We've got the new TV and the high def dish on the roof. We'll eat, drink, and cheer on the Tide. It'll be great! And we'll miss the Atlanta traffic to boot.
And I can hardly believe that all this will happen in only 24 days!