Our day started at the crack of 5:00 AM, and after downing a bit of coffee and a bagel, Greg and I hopped in the car with Betsy and Cole to head to the start. We got dropped off and walked over to the starting line. That was when we bumped into Mike P, where else would a Caldwell be? thats right we bumped into him in the bathroom line! After a good stretching session and a couple more 'nature calls' moments in the woods, we got back in line and prepared for the start. It is always so fun to see those around at a race, there is shall we say, hmmm... how to say this delicately? Well as Mike P likes to say the ladies have alot of 'talent' if you will! Anyway, after 4-5 months of training, the race was underway. (see photos to right; Mike P and below that Greg and I, all still happy at mile 4).
The race started with a bang, with Greg and I finding a comfortable pace at about 10 min/mile. I apparently was more hydrated than I have ever been in my entire life, and over the first 12 miles of the race I think I ran to the woods to answer the call of nature 67 times (ok maybe only 8, but isn't that bad enough? Even for a Caldwell?). Either way, we were on a roll, running through the town towards the entrance to the town of Kitty Hawk. Around Mile four, we came around a corner and saw Betsy, Trinity and Colvin waiting there cheering us on. So I took a moment and ran over and gave Cole a big thank you kiss, Trini a appreciative pat and gave Betsy a big thank you before running to catch up with Greg and head off toward the town of Kill Devil Hills. Around Mile 8.5 we reached the Wright Bros. momument on Kill Devil Hill, running around the monument before seeing Betsy and Cole again, this time with Rachel and Casper (of course)! Cole was sleeping this time (making Greg and I extremely jealous!), once again cheering us up and cheering us on. We continued winding through the neighborhoods, taking in the incredible spectators with their pirate costumes and cheering, before entering a state park on the Sound side of the island, where we started a 3 mile stretch on dirt. It was hardpacked, so it wasn't so bad, but around mile 2.5 of the dirt it started into some small climbs and descents and my left knee started telling me it didn't agree wholeheartedly with this. (See photo to the left of Greg and I after the Wright Brothers Memorial). Greg and I had been progressively slowing our pace and I was resolute that I was going to be there to watch Greg finish his first marathon, so I ignored it and we exited the woods just as we reached the 1/2 marathon point. We were at about a 2:25 1/2 marathon. We entered onto Rt 158 (the main road along the outer banks) and continued south, cutting into and out of a couple neighborhoods before finally reaching mile 17 or so. At this point we found Betsy, complete with Cole and jogging stroller and two fresh water bottles ready to run with us and get us rolling again. It was really nice to see Betsy's face and got the conversation going again, taking our minds off of the pain that is marathon and onto a friendly conversation. Plus, getting to see a sleeping Cole is quite a good motivation! Anyway, about a 1/2 mile later we entered the neighborhood in Nag's Head, where we were staying to be greeted with a table of 'convicts' serving water and gatorade (they were actually volunteers from a local law office) at the 18 mile mark and Greg's wife Heather and his three kids, Trinity and Shelbi and Rachel, who had a bag of waters, gels and sports beans to replenish our stock. The water was such a great relief, but by this point I was so done with anything containing sugar that the gels and sports beans were of no use... I can't TELL you what I would have done for a granola bar (this is a family friendly blog!). Betsy continued around the neighborhood with us, keeping us going until about mile 19.5, where she cut off and headed back to the house, leaving Greg and I to fend for ourselves for the rest of the run. It was about this time that the wheels started to come off. My knee said, No Mas and Greg was struggling to settle into his comfortable job (something I think I didn't help with my requirement to speed walk every now and then to give my knee, lets refer to it as beelzebub, a rest). We continued to alternate between jogging and taking beelzebub for a stroll for the next few miles. It was then that we saw the very talented 'angel' who also was having difficulty with her knee. Now I completely buy into the look but don't touch policy of marriage (which is why I have been told Betsy puts up with my sorry butt), but there certainly are sometimes when looking almost feels like too much. Well this talented woman continued to keep our pace, pulling slightly in front of us before having to take a break to stretch out her knee or hip or something that hurt her, falling behind temporarily only to pass us again allowing us to enjoy her many talents once again. This kept going on, for I would say about 2-3 miles before I think her knee/hip/leg, lets call it Rosemary's baby, pulled her into a stop. I hope she finished, but she certainly motivated me to ignore good ole' beelzebuddy for a bit. IT was about this time that Beezelbubbles whispered in my ear that he was done, so I resorted to a few miles of continuous, err... lets call it power walking (my ego is already hurt, lets give it a rest for a bit). Greg, on the other hand continued to alternate, seeming to spend much more time running than walking, causing my 'power walk' to be quite a workout. This was about the time that we crossed the Washington Baum Bridge into Manteo. It was quite the climb, and I can say honestly that Greg was running when we reached the top. I can tell you this because he made sure to tell me so. OF course that is more than I can say for Beelzebullsh*t and I. However, Beezelbub met his Kryptonite when we reached the bottom of the bridge, when we ran into Mike P (who had finished in 3:25:49!!!) who had decided to walk back to meet us and run us in. This got Greg and I back into a steady rhythm, with Mike getting us back into a conversation again and keeping us motivated until he left us at about 0.5 mile from the finish. It was a HUGE help. No more motivation was needed and I asked Greg if he had anything left to finish with a strong last 1/10th of a mile and he said no, but once he saw the crowd at the finish he changed his mind, looked at me and smiled and we were kicking it in for the home stretch. We vaguely heard our names called as we crossed the finish line in what my clock had as 5:34:08, and seeing Greg's girls, Heather, Betsy and Cole and Rachel at the finish was awesome. We got the prefunctory picture (which I graciously allowed my knee, the recently ordained fallen angel; not to be confused with the talented mrs. angel from the course) and then gave the ladies and mini-gent a big sweaty hug. (See the happy finishers and the little devil at the finish to the left).
After reuniting with Mike, we all headed back to the house to shower (Mike had the quote of the day saying he smelled like weekold seafood, yeah theres a image for ya), to relax, have some pizza, watch the Patriots pull one out over the Bills and just all hang out together for a bit. We were rewarded when we got home with ribbons and banners and signs congratulating us all. This was in addition to the girls hand made shirts cheering us on and Colvin's onesie that said "my dad is rockin OBX!!! In the case of the onesie, Betsy was going to have it say "my dad is Ba-rockin' the OBX" but figured one big electoral win was enough without rubbing it in. Cole on the other hand disagreed (he is going to be a stubborn little stinker that one!!! It was too short a time haning out before Mike and Rachel had to hit the road (he worked today) and Greg, Heather and the girls went over to the beach again (Greg is the man. I can I say that again? Sure, Greg is the man.) I on the other hand stayed at home, watching football while little Beelzebub (did you forget him?) was quiety recruiting, eventually pulling my hips (Romulus and Remus), thighs (Lucifer and Mordecai) and my calves (Karl and Rove). Following his highly successful mutiny, Betsy and I decided to take Cole, who was not interested in napping, much less staying even remotely still (maybe he should have run the entire marathon?) on a walk to the pier to watch the sunset and then over to the supermarket to get some food for dinner (ok in actuality it was for Aleve, but whose counting?). Greg and Heather caught us just as we were leaving and decided to meet us there. The Satanic crew cursed me on every step, but like a good God-fearing soldier, I marched on and was rewarded with a spectacular sunset with some great friends and my family.
We returned home and ate left over pasta and played with the kids (as much as Satan's Siblings would allow for me), and then after putting the kids to bed, hung out, drinking a beer and just chatting. It is trully amazing the sacrifices that the ladies make for us to do these silly races (in my case I get to return the favor) and I wanted to make sure I made it quite clear how appreciative I, and I am sure Greg and Mike are for that. Our evening winding down and Beelzebanditto crying foul, we headed down to sleep, of which Cole was having none of. However, my head hit the pillow and I was gone for this world.