It Runs the Family

After two years of postponements and deferments, the big event finally happened!

My brother Charlie and I both run marathons. For a long time we’ve wanted to run one together, but with him in California and me in North Carolina, and therefore separated by some 3,000 miles, the opportunity just didn’t present itself.

But when the 2020 Wilmington Marathon was postponed due to the covid pandemic, he decided to sign up for the rescheduled race for spring 2021, when we naively assumed that things would be more or less back to normal. Though the 2021 race was held, it was very limited and they offered deferments for those that wanted them. Due to various events, we chose the deferment.

I think the last time we really spend time together prior to 2020 was in 2006. In 2020 our whole family traveled to Pennsylvania to spend a few days with my dad, who would no longer be able to travel. In 2021, he and I coordinated our visit when dad’s health started to decline rapidly, and we saw each other for a day or two in September 2021 and then another day or two when dad passed in early October.

As far as I know, this is really the first time in our lives that we really spent significant time with each other (along with out wives) with no other family around. I’m not saying that as a bad thing, just observing that with a thirteen year difference in our ages, time together really hasn’t happened much – apart from significant online interactions.

But on February 23/24 Charlie and his wife Denise made the flight from California to North Carolina and then drove the last few hours to our place, and we would spend the next five days seeing the sights and finally crossing off a bucket list item: running a marathon together.

It’s been a very long time since I’ve posted consistently on the blog, and even longer since I’ve posted about running. Just a quick recap: back in 2011 I was involved in a serious car accident that should have killed me. Based on photos taken by the police and the insurance company, I should not have walked away; a driver talking on their cell phone drove a Yukon Denali XL at 65 miles per hour through a red light, into the back of one car before smashing into the driver-side door of mine. The door was pushed all the way to the center gear shift.

Anyway, as a result of that I was suffered from accident-related trauma, which exacerbated depression which I’ve dealt with in a variety of ways since I was a teenager. My wife Krystal told me I needed to find something to do and suggested I get back into running, which was something I’d enjoyed since college. Since it didn’t hurt any worse to run than to not run, I started running with the intent to run a marathon.

So, now its 2022 and Charlie and Denise are here. We visit my workplace (huzzah it was Panera day!) and then drove/walked around town seeing the sights: the birthplace of Pepsi, the theaters where Krystal has worked on plays, the exterior of Tryon Palace and Mr Tom’s house, the oldest Episcopal church in North Carolina, and the like. We ate at Morgan’s Tavern for lunch (and got a to-go plate for Krystal) and I drove around my usual running route before heading home.

For supper we had pierogi and vegetables and talked into the night before heading to bed; they’d had a long trip, after all.

The next day we had an easy morning before driving down to Wilmington. Packet Pickup and the Expo were well-run (pun intended) and I was happy with the swag presented by the vendors. Whew even won some stuff by spinning a prize wheel and answering health-related questions!

Then we drove the course backwards as best we could (some parts were distanced from public roads) before visiting the USS North Carolina. Afterwards, we checked into the hotel and find a place for dinner: The Boathouse, where I had catfish that was fried perfectly.

We went back to the hotel for a relaxing evening watching The Office before waking up at 4:45 so Denise could drive us to the start before roads started getting shut down. We found a spot away from the wind and passed the time talking to some folks running the half marathon.

You can’t touch this.
Seriously. Don’t touch me.
This was my dad’s handkerchief.
We each carried one.

Sooner rather than later the race began. Some weeks ago we talked about a plan and realized that due to sickness and lack of training on our part we would not be as ready as we’d have liked, and settled on a goal time of five and half to six hours. So we placed ourselves at the back of the pack and crossed the line over four minutes after the gun.

I’m not sure if it was the way the corrals were set up or if there were just that many people, but it did look like one of the larger events I’ve attended.

Denise cheered us on at mile five, but her bike horn had given out by then. Was it our own fault for not running faster or hers for constantly honking for nearly and hour? Neither. We all blame the horn for lack of stamina.

At mile 6 we still felt good as we ascended a ramp to the freeway, which had a lane closed off. It was here that we started walking every so often, passing what would be the finish line around mile twelve and the halfway point about two and a half hours into the run.

The course became trickier as the road became rough and more hilly; I think we both started feeling it around mile 15 and walked to mile 16, where the course became a paved trail around a very pleasant lake. We walk/jogged to mile 19, though to be fair it was more walk then jog. We did make sure we looked good for the pictures.

Around mile 19 or 20, after Denise cheered us on again with a group of strangers she’d shared our names with, we were both feeling rough and decided to walk. At mile 24 I tried running again as Charlie was feeling up for trying, but my left knee protested. We decided to walk until we saw the mile 26 flag.

We finished at a slow jog that was still faster than walking. We were just three minutes past short goal and, amazingly, my own time was a palindrome at 5:33:33.5. We received our medal and blankets and crossed into the reception area to the usual table with milk and bananas and beer and biscuits and first aid. There was even a table where you could register for a “Destination Marathon” but we just laughed, knowing that while we’d register for another at some point, today was not that day.

It was a good half mile walk back to the car, and then Denise drove us home to rest and recuperate – my poor feet were howling. We stopped for Bojangles on the way and then had Fettuccini Alfredo with broccoli for supper. We rested periodically until Krystal came home from the theatre (where they’re putting on The Wedding Singer) and went to bed before our adventure continued on Sunday.

I say “adventure” but it was really a recovery day. Apart from getting some necessities at the grocery store and going to see The Wedding Singer in the afternoon, we stayed home. It was rainy and blah and so we hydrated and talked and listend to podacsts.

Monday would see all of us head out on a new journey together.

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