I’ve finished the Southeast and the Mid Coast Atlantic on my journey to run a road race in all 50 states to honor my father and his battle with Parkinsons Disease.
Sometimes when I’m tired or sore I wish I had decided to do a movie marathon instead. Or a 50 state vineyard challenge. Or chocolate around the world tasting challenge. Or test-your-liver-limits vodka challenge. But, as my friend and teammate Will reminds me, “If this was easy, everyone would do it.”
South Carolina was lovely. It was an easy trail run along a river where weathered fisherman hauled in catfish and striped bass. My tiny tot came along for the ride. We stopped to smell the flowers – something we rarely do in the short amount of time we have between races, states and home.
North Carolina. 7:30am on a Sunday.
Earlier in the week (like a few days ago…) I received an email from one of our former cadets saying, “Hey! check out the All-American Marathon here at Fort Bragg.” Well, the only marathon I will run is the kind that gives away a million dollars to every finisher and has cabernet hydration tables along the route. However, as luck would have it, the race had a 5k attached to it. And I get to connect with old friends. Win-Win.
July 1, 1991. West Point, NY.
My father walked into the chapel to make sure the lights were off and the doors locked. (Ministers are never off duty. Neither are their families. Ever spent your Saturday evenings breaking up communion bread? Or folding bulletins? No?) While doing rounds he noticed a lone visitor sobbing in the pew. “Just dropped off a new cadet?” dad asked. “No, he said. Two.” Twin boys from Nebraska, the first born sons, home grown heroes off to the Academy for “R” day. Dad brought him in for tea and he stayed the week. 25 years later they’re still a part of our family – all of them – uncles, aunts, best friends, girl friends, 8th grade piano teachers…. they came with a crowd. I have a thousand “Thomson Twins” stories but I’ll save those for more intimate settings (like my Tour of America Via Airport Bars challenge perhaps?)
The Fort Bragg run was through the main part of post – past the hospital, gracious spanish style Commanders homes and buildings meant to intimidate just a bit. Home of the 82nd Airborne Division as well as others including significant Special Forces commands, the run was filled with incredibly fit men and women, their incredibly fit spouses and incredibly fit children. It was an intimidating start when the starting gun was an artillery piece. The best part was an email all the runners received the night prior…
Note to self – Leave the gas mask and RPG’s at home.
My host Derek and his eldest daughter got up at 0 Dark 30 and came with me. It was a great race full of all the pageantry you hope still exists, surrounded by the men and women who deserve nothing but our complete reverence and thanks. And me – a hopeless romantic, a sucker for uniforms, parades and balls.
I love this particular challenge because of the reunions across generations and state lines.
Reunions are special.
They remind us we’re a part of something bigger – that our community isn’t just where we live or where we work but an intricate network of people from every road that have influenced the paths we’ve taken and the direction we’ve gone.
Run to Win.