The Marathon I Won

I’ll be running my eighth marathon on Sunday. This one is for charity, not time – I’m no speedster anyway. No, my training got derailed for obvious reasons and my waistline has expanded with all the cookies that have been delivered of late – not a good combination for running success.

I stood on the scale in horror yesterday as the digital readout spoke lies to me. I want to go back to the days of the rolling number wheel that looked so cheap and inaccurate you could truly rationalize it being off by 5-7 pounds. Modern scales reflect the downside of the affordability of precision electronics.

The situation brought to mind the first time I ran the Georgia Marathon in 2007.

I won it!

You heard that right, I broke the tape for the marathon.

In late 2005, I reached a plateau. It wasn’t a good plateau, it was a large one. I’ve always been a big lug, but the responsibilities of a father with four young children had led to an unhealthy weight. When the children (who caused the problem) see pictures of that time period, they call me “Fat Daddy”. Yes, my size 40 pants got tight and I made the decision that I wasn’t going to buy size 42’s. So I joined a gym, dieted, and found that I really enjoyed running.

After losing some weight, I saw an announcement of the inaugural Georgia Marathon and decided to set my sights on running the half-marathon. I got my training plan, ran four days a week, and bought all of the necessary paraphernalia including some snazzy running belts (fanny packs) that my children adore. By the time March 2007 rolled around, I was ready. My goal: 2 hours.

I lined up in coral G and watched in excitement as the flares went up and the gun sounded the beginning of the race. It took a little while to get into my stride, but I soon found my pace and settled in. Noting the split at mile 6, I made sure to turn left with the other half-marathoners, laughing at the few lonely souls going straight for twenty more miles. Through ten miles, I ran well until hitting a rather stout hill on mile 11. Once that was behind me, some mental calculations told me that I had a shot at my goal time.

I gave it my all. I pushed, grunted, and strained toward the finish. Finally, I saw it – the finish line. Just when it came into view, a roar came over the crowd. I looked around and didn’t see other runners around me.

This is really nice, I thought. They’re cheering for me!

I heard the announcer say something garbled – I guessed it was my name.

How’d they know my name? Must be the bib number.

I saw two people in official garb run a tape across the road.

Wow, that’s cool. A tape for me. Do they know it’s my first time?

Being the subject of such adoration was slightly embarrassing. Still, I lifted my arms to the crowd’s delight.

This is amazing! I wonder if they do this for everyone!

The same two officials who had run the tape across were now flailing wildly and seemed to be waving me off. Just after I broke the tape, I turned to see a group of very thin, insanely fit men barreling towards me.  Yes, at the exact time I finished my 13.1 miles, the professions finished their 26.2. I got a haughty look from the guy who rightfully should have broken the tape. Jealous, I suppose.

Although I might have been in the wrong place, I can forever say that I got to the finish line first!

Caption This



Pure Joy

I got to be party to pure, absolute joy this weekend. I have seen such displays on television after a big win in sports or gameshows. This time, it was my little girl who celebrated. After so many losses in the past six months, it was a much needed win.

As a parent, one of the worst things about cancer is being totally helpless. We are forced to sit and watch as one thing after another is taken away from our little girl. Ballet, plays, school, vacations, little things and big things are plucked away as she lays in bed.

Wonderful organizations are out there to give back to these kids. Groups such as the Make-a-Wish Foundation come beside them to give them something to look forward to during their treatment. A very introspective child, Kylie debated long and hard over her wish, finally deciding she wanted to see Aladdin on Broadway.

A few weeks ago, Kylie was asked to be the honored child at Make-a-Wish Georgia’s annual fund-raising Wish Gala. The chairperson of the event took her on a shopping spree for a gown. This day of shopping was unlike any that my girls have been on – especially Kylie. As a fourth child, hand-me-downs are the rule of thumb. If it isn’t obscenely high or dragging the ground, it fits.

Not this time. She was treated like a princess. After a six month hiatus, I saw her old friend, “excitement” start to creep back into her life.

The big night came. We all got dressed up for the Gala.



She knew she was going to sing with her sister. She knew I was going to speak. She thought of herself as the entertainment and the face of wish-children for the evening. What she didn’t know was that Make-a-Wish had planned a big surprise for her. They had a video from her favorite Broadway performers who granted her wish to go to see Aladdin. Here is her reaction:



Priceless.  Pure Joy.

After so many months of seeing her disappointed, I can’t look at that video without tears.

You might be wondering if I embarrassed myself and my family in front of the trendier set. I believe the answer is no. With a stern admonition from the start, I spent the evening minding everything I did and said carefully. I paused three seconds before any word escaped my lips. I didn’t spill or break anything. My online tux-buying escapade was made unnecessary by a friend exactly my size who owns a tuxedo. I did not step on anyone’s dress or trip on my way to the stage. I didn’t try to fit in by discussing the beach chalet I own in Vermont.

It was a lovely evening. Kylie was the star…. And she deserves it.