Thursday, October 30, 2014

It's All Relative - The Marathon to Marathon


A year ago I was very fortunate to be chosen to be an Ambassador for SkirtSports (  I think one of the reasons they chose me is that I enjoy encouraging others on their running journey.   I truly enjoy being part of the SkirtSports community, it has rewarded me in so many ways.  
As much as I love to hear compliments on my skirts, the best compliment I ever received was someone saying that I inspired them to run.  To me that is a huge gift.  I’m in my third decade running and that compliment has only recently been bestowed upon me.  My friends and family know that running is a huge part of my life, so when one of them starts up with running-it is like giving me a gift.

A few years ago I retired from my career as a police officer.   Dean, my brother was unsure of what kind of gift he wanted to present to me that would be meaningful and something I would remember for a lifetime.  I was teary eyed when I opened the card, in his sentiments he wrote that this card was good for one marathon with him. 
Although Dean had not always been a runner, he was active in sports all his life.  Running was a development in the past few years for him.  We ran the Bix 7 miler together and that was his longest run to date.  He has always been a big supporter while I did my running, including crewing for me at a 100 miler.  Even though I missed a cut off at mile 93 and was pulled from the race, he enjoyed being part of the running community and trying to help along the way.
I gave Dean a book on marathon training along with a training plan.  We decided we would do the Marathon to Marathon in Iowa in June of 2013.  I enjoyed watching the progression of his long runs and hearing of his experiences in training.  I remember how proud he was of what he was accomplishing, I guarantee I was even more proud of him.  

Time flew by and it was time for our marathon to happen.  Our parents drove from Michigan and an aunt and uncle drove from Kansas to support us.  My husband (Erick) and Dean’s girlfriend (Christi) came along to be the ultimate sherpas.  They were along the course to support us and make sure we got to the finish line.

Anyone that knows me is aware of the black cloud that has followed me to a lot of my races.  The Marathon to Marathon would be no different.  The forecast was not looking good.  Race day met us with temps in the 70’s.  The marathon started in Storm Lake, Iowa and headed north to Marathon, Iowa. The race is a point to point road course through cornfields and farms in rural Iowa.  There is little place to take shelter in a storm.  The winds picked up and before we knew it they were up to 20 mph, by the end they were almost 40 mph.  Almost the entire race, as we looked to the north it was a wicked and dark looking sky.

Dean did great, but  he battled some muscle cramps when he got to the 20 mile mark.  This was further than he had ever run.  Around mile 21 the race director drove by in his car and said there was a dangerous storm headed our way.  Cloud to ground lightening was expected.  He said that if a bus drove by we would need to get on it and clear the course.  Dean asked what exactly that meant and I said it would be the end of our race.  He told me he knew exactly how I felt when I missed that cut off at the 100 miler he crewed me at.  The idea of a race being cut short against your own will is not appealing.  He kicked it into high gear and kept going.  Throughout driving rain, thunder and lightening strikes (sometimes within 1/4 mile of us) he pressed on.  
Our family
Erick and Christi took extra caution and drove our Jeep along the route, always within 1/4 mile of us in case there was an emergency.  The race director drove past us again around mile 23.  He asked if we were ok to keep going.  Without thinking or consulting Dean I said, “It’s just a little rain.”  I think we both laughed at that a bit later as we had never been out in that kind of an open area in a lightening storm.  
We started to realize that we are going to be able to complete this race, despite the storm.  We turned the corner and saw (through the deluge of rain) the sign that announces we have arrived in Marathon, Iowa!  We had about a half mile to go to the finish.  Our parents and aunt and uncle were standing in the pouring rain in their dollar store ponchos waiting for us.  Our mom tried to run with us in
Our mom
her Crocs in the ankle deep water to the finish.  We crossed the line and the announcer says our names and also that we are brother and sister.  We received our medals and congrats from our families.  I’ve never been more proud of my brother than I was on this day.   
Fast forward 1 month.  It is my birthday and my brother has no idea what kind to give me as a gift.  I open a card and he’s presented me with a certificate to run a 50K, his first ultra marathon, with me.  He doesn’t need to say the words that I’ve inspired him, his actions mean more than any words could say.  

Post race celebration
Way to go Dino!
Since our marathon, Dean has done the Bix 7 miler again, this time with Christi.  She also did her first half marathon with him in September.  These actions mean more to me than any other gift could.  These are gifts from the heart and it’s all relative.  
Back row-Erick and Uncle Tom
Front row-Aunt Jan, me, mom(Carole), dad(Paul), Dean and Christi