Thoughts from the journey… Excerpts from a day in the life of Sherry McLaughlin

26Apr/102

The First Annual MIHP Lemonade 1/2 Marathon

You know what they say, when life hands you lemons...

I had been training for months for a spring half marathon. Normally, I do the Martian Half Marathon, but since they moved it a weekend up this year and put it on a Saturday, that took me out of the running (no pun intended). So, I decided to enter the Trail Half Marathon that was held this past weekend.

My crazy schedule and lack of immediate attention to detail left me high and dry when I tried to sign up three weeks ago, only to find out that all 1,100 slots had been taken. Now, if you know me, you know that I don't particularly enjoy running. I do it as a matter of discipline and so that when I take part in my yearly Olympic Distance Triathlon, I'm not dying running the 10K at the end of it.

So, with all of this crazy training behind me, I decided to run my own half marathon. That's right...just me. As the vision became clearer in my head, a smile grew on my face. Not only would I take the top spot in my age bracket, but I would also win the overall prize! Never before in my wildest dreams did I think I could ever win a half marathon and now, in just a few short days, I could be crowned champion of my own race.

The idea was brilliant and so I started telling people about it. If you know anything about my life, you realize it is far from private. And, yes, I know much of that is my own doing. As the story spread, I heard a client say, "I think I might want to join Sherry on that run." All of a sudden, what could be the best race of my life could turn into my worst. After all, with only two people running the race, coming in second also means I would be finishing dead last! This woman had never run a half marathon before, though she was certainly a runner.

Oh, the dilemma. But as one of my other patients said, "It might be like that tree in the woods scenario. If you win a race and nobody is around to witness it, did you really run the race at all?" Point taken.

So, the invitation was extended and the time set. 7:30 a.m. sharp, the starting "gun" would go off. We would leave from my house and follow a carefully mapped out route through Birmingham/Bloomfield, ending up at the Starbucks on Old Woodward in Downtown Birmingham.

Just so you know, I was taking this thing very seriously. I got up at 4 a.m. to eat my pre-race bowl of oatmeal with walnuts, then back to bed for a few more hours of sleep before getting up to down my pre-race supplements, Advocare Spark, O2 Gold and Catalyst. Marilyn arrived a little bit before 7:30 and we did final potty stops and took our pre-race photo (see below) before heading to the starting line.

The starting gun went off...well, there was no gun, but we said, "Go!" and started running. The day was gray and damp, threatening rain and with a bite in the air. The route went down tree-lined streets and on dirt roads. We navigated mud and pot holes and ran by some of the most beautiful homes in Oakland County. At mile 6, there was a torrential downpour that lasted for about 10 minutes. We were soaked to the skin. We ran past the Cranbrook Art Museum and through the campus. We negotiated some long hills and enjoyed the downhills that inevitably came. We talked about life and running as we paced each other mile after mile. And as the minutes ticked by and the miles were conquered, my competitor became my friend.

At mile 9, this guy jumped out of his car and ran past us and then turned around to take our picture. He cheered us on and then showed up a few blocks later to shoot more photos. "See you at Starbucks!" he said. Our race came complete with a fan and a photographer... (Thanks, Greg!)

At mile 11, we made a left hand turn to begin our run around Quarton Lake. At mile 12, we faced the long hill into downtown Birmingham. And on the final turn, as my legs were aching and my heart was pounding, I made a run for the finish. It was a slight uphill battle, but nothing could stop me now! My legs were churning and I could see the finish line just ahead. As I crossed the proverbial line, I stopped my watch. Marilyn crossed just 7 seconds behind me to complete her first half marathon. The winning time was 2:11:46. The Kenyans might laugh at that, but I was smiling. And as I hugged Marilyn after she crossed the finish line, I just knew in my heart that this was exactly the race I was meant to run this spring.

There were no crowds. No finishing medals. No speaker announcing our names. But at the end, there was our number one fan at Starbucks, reading the paper and waiting to take our picture. And two women who were now friends...bound by 13.1 miles of mud, rain, potholes, long hills and some great conversation.

Thanks, Marilyn, for coming out very early on a Saturday morning to take part in this inaugural race with me and thanks for letting me win. Thanks to our number one fan and race photographer, Greg. I'll see you guys next year...and maybe a few more of you will join us. But for now, please allow me to bask in the fact that I currently hold the course record. 😉

Until next time...

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  1. You guys were cruising, it wasn’t exactly easy trying to get in front of you and take pictures. I’m already looking forward to next year’s event, though (sans rain)…

  2. Awesome job Sherry (& Marilyn)! You are so crazy. Your life is definitely a journey….thanks for letting us travel with you! 🙂 Fun story!


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