I will never run a marathon. It’s not that I couldn’t — I’m just making the active choice not too. My run/walk tendencies plus having heavier bones just doesn’t lend well to uber long distances. Plus, I’m much better suited at being on a yoga mat for 6 hours than pounding the pavement.
My brother, on the other hand, got the genes that made him tall, lean and fast. Drew’s always run to stay in shape, but only started dabbling in races in the past few years. You may remember he ran his first half marathon last year at the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, pushing himself to a 1:45 finish with not a whole lot of training. So when he said he was signing up for the full 26.2 miles this year, I cleared all plans for the morning of May 18, 2014 in plans to be there for nearly every step.
Agreeing to be his race fuel crew, he dropped off his Powerade the night before and we made our plan where I would first meet Drew at mile 7 on his epic trek around the West side of Greater Cleveland. I arrived at West 65th and Franklin just in time to watch the lead runners blow by, then saw Ryan (@CLECraftBeerRun) ran by pacing the 3:25 runners. As Drew was shooting to run his first marathon under four hours, I waited patiently as the crowd thickened. It was exciting to see so many speedy Northeastern Ohioans breeze by!
My brother coming and going at mile 7.
I’ve come to recognize my brother’s gait from a distance so could easily spot him as he approached. He stopped only to take off his blue hoodie, recognize he had pinned his bib to his long sleeve tshirt (and not the short sleeve he had under it), take a few slips of his Powerade before he was off and running. Then then, so was I — to Rocky River I went!
With a quick pit stop at Starbucks (I have my fuel as he has his), I made it to the water stop just past mile 14 with plenty of time to spare. I missed the lead runners, but again got to see Ryan (looking strong) and another social media friend, Pam (@pam_mcgowan – who was looking FIERCE) before Drew ran up again. He slowed down to a trot so I could jog along side him as he again took some Powerade. He said he was still feeling good and that his knee wasn’t bothering him too badly. (He had dislocated it a few years back playing rec basketball and that was my biggest concern for him that morning.) He took one last quick swig, handed me the bottle and was again on his way. I yelled “see you in another seven – you’ve got this!” Back to me, he fist pumped the air and was on his merry way.
For mile 21, Hans, my mom, her boyfriend and his kids all joined me in time to meet up with Drew before the final stretch. At the intersection at Lake and Nicholson, I realized I was a bit ahead of our game plan, but it turns out it worked out for the best as Drew really appreciated seeing all of us before the mile marker. My mom had a made a sign that said “RUN DREW” and they all cheered, which put a HUGE smile on my brother’s face. He slowed to a quick walk, and Hans and I joined him as he again took a bit more Powerade. He wasn’t drinking much of what I brought, but he assured me he was taking water at each water stop. He gave me back the bottle and I said, “I’ll see you at the finish line” and he was off again.
We hightailed it downtown as fast as we could from there. Getting caught in traffic at Detroit and West 65th, I questioned my decision making skills, but by the grace of the Cleveland parking gods, Hans and I found an empty spot on the West 9th. We found ourselves on Lakeside, also finding the last leg of the race course. We waited it out and caught my brother one last time before he got to the finish.
Drew was in the zone when we saw him, but eventually all our yelling and screaming caught his attention. He gave us the “here’s lookin’ at you” finger-point and somehow picked it up again. As he sped off, I started yelling “THAT’S MY BROTHER! HE’S A MARATHONER” and the crowd around us cheered. I suddenly became overwhelmed in that feeling I had when I had finished my first half marathon — I was just so damn proud of him.
I would eventually track down my brother, who had found my dad and his girlfriend, on Lakeside, medal around his neck and blanket around his body.
He said he thought he came in around 3:50. I looked it up later to find his official clock time was 3:51:29 — absolutely amazing for his very first full marathon. Not only did he reach his goal, he blew it out of the water!
Even though after the half last year he was vowing to never to do this again, I can’t say I’m too shocked by any of this. My brother is determined, a hard worker, and mentally and physically strong. When he sets a goal for himself, he reaches it every time. Talk about commitment – his picture is in the dictionary next to the definition of the word.
Later Sunday night, he texted me to thank me — but in the grand scheme of things, I wanted to thank him for again showing me that anything is possible when you put your mind to it and simply #dothework. He’s one of my biggest motivators and is a constant source of inspiration. Here’s to you, Drew! Now, let’s see how long until we see you BQ…