By Jack H. (Nick) McCall
Republished from the Knoxville Bar Association’s DICTA magazine / March 2016
Q: Alicia, how exactly did you and your husband Mike become the running pair known as “Team Bert”?
A: ALICIA J. TEUBERT, Elmore, Stone & Caffey, PLLC
Long before my husband and I met, we both enjoyed running recreationally. Even as far back as middle school, we both would go out for a run for fun. As our free-time dwindled with college, law school and starting our careers, running unintentionally got phased out of our schedule. Just before New Year’s 2012, we realized how sedentary we had become and decided it was time to get active again. It started with the 60-day Insanity Challenge. After a lot of sweat, we successfully completed Insanity. At that point, we asked ourselves, “Now what?” That is when my husband, Mike, threw me a curve ball and said, “You know, running a marathon has always been on my bucket list.”
Although I was always more of a distance runner (compared to a sprinter), I had never considered running a marathon. So, I suggested we try a half marathon first (to make sure we would not die). He agreed and we started looking for one to run. Thanks to Google, we quickly learned that Knoxville had a half marathon, but it was only a month away. I thought “no way,” but Mike wanted to do it. I consulted with a friend who had run marathons in the past. She suggested that because of Insanity, it would not be a suicide mission to run the Knoxville Half Marathon as long as we started our training right away. We trained for and ran the Knoxville Half in April 2012. It was hard and fabulous at the same time. We were hooked. Shortly thereafter, we were researching full marathons. One of Mike’s colleagues suggested considering the Apalachicola Marathon in Florida. With the lure of a flat course and beautiful ocean views, we made the commitment and registered.
We trained for and we conquered the Apalachicola Marathon in October 2012. By conquered, I mean we crossed the finish line hand-in-hand with a smile on our faces. Our goal was “do not walk” and somehow we made that happen. It took a week before we could run again, but training had become part of our routine. The more we trained, the more time we spent with each other. The Knoxville Marathon was scheduled for early April 2013 and we focused our attention on it. Intimidated by the hills (even famous runners call our race the “KnoxHills Marathon”), we did not set a time goal. We just wanted to run it and do our best. We learned it really helps to train on the course you will be facing. We completed the KnoxHills Marathon almost 5 minutes faster than the “flatter than a pancake” Apalachicola one. That was when our competitive nature started to kick in.
Our next marathon (in Ann Arbor, Michigan) was only 2 months away and we set a goal of finishing it in under 4 hours (this would take more than 12 minutes off of our Knoxville time). I’m not sure whether it was (a) the nostalgia of being back in Ann Arbor (where I went to undergrad), (b) the fact that our families and friends came to watch or (c) that we were celebrating our 5-year wedding anniversary, but we completed the Ann Arbor marathon in 3:57:30. We also began competing locally in some of the shorter Knoxville Track Club races. Being new to the scene, we joined the KTC’s “Socialites Team” and became acquainted with some of the friendliest and supportive runners in our area. The Socialites have team jerseys and almost everyone puts a nickname on the back. It did not take long for Mike and I to come up with our nicknames. In college, his fraternity brothers called him “Bert” and they would yell “Mrs. Bert” when I walked into the house. So naturally, “Mr. Bert” and “Mrs. Bert” went on the back of our jerseys. We became “Team Bert.”
I am not sure who thought of it first, but we set a goal for Team Bert: to run a marathon in all 50 states. As of the publication of this article, we have run 11 marathons in 10 states and our 12th race/11th state will be completed March 6, 2016. So far, we have done Florida (twice), Tennessee, Michigan, Mississippi, Kentucky, Alabama, Virginia, West Virginia, North Dakota, and Hawaii. The March 6th race will “check off” Arkansas. Some of these races went really well (like Alabama, where I first qualified for Boston, and North Dakota, where I set a personal record by almost 15 minutes). Other races did not go as well (like Mississippi, where we walked the last 6 miles in the blistering sun and humidity). Through the good and the bad, Mike and I keep working toward our goal, keep strengthening our bond, and keep internalizing our motto: “Team Bert: Together, No Distance Is Too Great!”
“The Last Word” column is coordinated by KBA Member Nick McCall.