Emerald Isle Marathon Race Report
Still bleary-eyed and sans coffee, I took my place at the starting line at 5:55am alongside two handcyclists. The race director introduced us to the nice police officer who would lead us out as we kicked off the race. She asked how long I expected to take. I guessed 4:30 or so based on my last marathon time.
“Sounds good,” she said. With that, she gave me a few pointers on the course, reminded me to move to the right when runners overtook me, and wished me luck.*
[*For the record, this how easy it is for races to allow disabled athletes to participate in most races. More to come on a future post…it’s percolating, unlike my coffee^^]
After the national anthem, the horn blared and the three of us took off. One handcyclist was waaay faster than the other two of us, but he races every year and knows the course (again, not a problem). So the cop car stuck with us, casting an eerie blue light show against the pine trees in the pre-dawn darkness. Eventually, they delivered us into a neighborhood and we followed the signs from there.
The course is basically flat throughout so I just cruised along, looking at the houses, thinking about my chosen honoree for this race, Chris Rosati.
Chris has accomplished so much…not just in spite of his disease, but with it. That he’s dying from ALS forms the backdrop for his story, it sets the stage – but Chris poured in his creative vision, wrote the script, choreographed the scenes, and injected just the right publicity to bring attention. He pivoted his marketing genius towards his new cause – not ALS, but kindness.
The reason the Krispy Kreme heist worked is because it wasn’t just a publicity stunt designed to get attention for a product, a company, or even the man running it. The goal was to bring joy to others, strangers – but the realization that a dying man was behind the caper sent it viral while touching people deeply. His line I carry with me every day: “If I can’t impact people, this whole thing is a waste.” Yep.
It’s also not lost on me that the escapade provided the sponsors to launch even bigger projects. Hmm…
It was about Mile 5 when the lead runners caught up to me. The sun was up, but the wind off the ocean kept it cool. Absolutely perfect running conditions. Thank goodness I was in my trike or I would have cried out of sheer jealous torment.
I kept up with some of the faster runners, but I had no idea of my pace since I don’t wear a watch anymore. What’s the point? I don’t race for PRs and I’m an age group of one. I race because I love the challenge and the camaraderie of the race environment. It’s the one place I don’t feel pity behind the stares I always get. I feel admiration, encouragement, and like I still belong.
Porta potty love
Somewhere around Mile 11, I heard one of the runners say “7:47.” Wait, that can’t be a split, right? And then I realized it must be the time. I did some “trike math”…which means it took about 2 miles for me to calculate that I was dominating my last marathon time.
|Photo cred: Allison Matlack Photography|
True love is your husband standing beside a porta potty at Mile 14. My heart swelled when I saw him, in just the same way that I see Chris looking at his wife and daughters. ALS can’t touch that. Sure, it can try – it can change our lives and mess up our plans, can stress us out and make us crazy sick with worry and sadness, but as long as we show up every day to reinforce and build each other up, fight for each other, admit when we’re wrong, and put love first in our decisions and actions – it can’t win. We win. It’s not even close.
That’s what I was thinking. What I said was, “Did you see the time?!”
“Yeah, I almost missed you. You’re crazy,” he responded smiling as he helped me out of the trike.
Shortly after my pee break, I heard a voice yelling at me from somewhere on my left. “AAANDREAAAAA!!!!!!” I caught just the slightest glimpse of my friend Erin sprinting towards me, waving her arms, before I crossed the intersection.
A better friend would have stopped. Erin is an Ironman though, and I figured she’d understand. Erin is one of my newer friends. We connected through Swim Bike Mom’s triathlon forum (of course) and she and her daughter Sydney had come halfway across NC to see me race. Erin had planned to run with me, but was nursing a foot injury.
Erin’s motto is “choose joy” which Chris would obviously agree with. Unless you’re dealing with clinical depression or a devastating loss, it’s like the magnet on our fridge says ------->
Note to Self
The rest of the race was pretty uneventful. Most of it was spent pressing against a headwind on the path that parallels Route 58 on the way back to the start line. It had warmed into a beautiful sunny day so I could have triked forever.
There is so much more that I could say about Chris, but I think the best way to sum it up is to watch this video that aired this week on CBS This Morning. It’s a segment called Note to Self and you can watch others, mostly celebrities, talking to their younger selves about the life lessons they will learn.
If you want to know what a profound effect this man has had on me, just know that I was nodding throughout this piece. It didn’t shock me, scare me, or move me to tears. It sounded like facts -- wisdom I have absorbed from him and other ALS warriors. I know I haven’t really been tested yet, but I am ready for battle.
|Erin & me post-race (when she caught me ;) )|