This was my 21st half marathon, and surely my most memorable. I met my 23-year-old grandson, Ryan Joelee Kennedy, for the first time. I know what you’re thinking, so before you get out pencil and paper and start figuring out how I’m old enough to have a 23-year-old grandson, suffice it to say that it’s definitely mathematically possible. Ryan contacted my now 43-year-old son Everette just a few months ago and informed him that he (Ryan) was his son, in much the same that Everette had called me up when he was 23 years old, and that’s when we met for the first time. The whole story has more twists and turns than a barrel full of snakes, so I’ll leave it at that for now, and if you’d like more details you’ll need to wait for the TV movie.
The initial plan was for all three of us — Everette, Ryan, and me — to get together and run the half marathon. Everette’s training never quite get off the ground, and since he would have had to fly all the way across the country from Las Vegas just to cheer us on, he dropped out, but Ryan and I decided we’d stick with the plan.
We met at the Crowne Plaza on Saturday night and we had a great time just getting to know Ryan and of course making plans for the race. Linda and I were amazed at how much Ryan’s looks and mannerisms were similar to different family members even though he had never met any of us. When I asked him if he was ready for half marathon I was more than a little surprised that he hadn’t spent much time training for it at all. He said he ran seven miles once a couple months ago, and last week he went out one day and ran “about five miles.” I was a little worried about his prospects in a half marathon.
Having said that, Ryan’s a great natural athlete. He was a 1st team All State wide receiver and had more catches than anybody in the state of Tennessee in his senior year of high school, and he was a starter for four years on the baseball team at King College (Division II) in Bristol, Tennessee, and batted .370 last year as a senior.
All of that athleticism of course makes me proud, but running a half marathon is an entirely different animal and I was a little afraid that he might crash and burn along the way. My intention at the outset, as always, was for us to just run at our own speed and then meet up at the finish line. The more I thought about it though, it made sense for us to just stick together in the race and run together. I told him that if he felt like it and could zoom on up ahead, to just take off and wait for me at the finish line. Otherwise I’d go his pace for the entire race, and that’s what we did. We actually started off pretty well, hitting the 5k mark in about 24 minutes. By the time we hit the 10k mark we had run almost as far as his longest run ever, and we hit 10k at about 52 minutes. Several times along the way he tried to get me to run on ahead if I wanted to, but I was determined to stay with him. I looked at my watch when we crossed the 9-mile mark and we were at 1:15. I told him we had 45 minutes to run the final 4 miles and finish under 2 hours and that became our goal. I’m pretty sure those last four miles for him felt about like the last four miles of the couple of full marathons I’ve run — agonizing — but we managed to finish together in just under 2 hours at 1:59:08. I was a little afraid he might never want to run again, but just before bedtime on the night of the race I got a note from him on Facebook saying he’s already got another race scheduled for next week — this time a 5k. I have a feeling this is the beginning of a long running career for Ryan, and with some actual training he’ll soon be running circles around me and quite a few others.
7 – 1-10 Website (Information, results, registration, photo links, etc.)
7 – 1-10 Awards (Quality of medals, trophies, etc.) (1 to 10)
8 – 1-10 Awards Presentation (PA system, winning times, etc.) (1 to 10)
9 – 1-10 Food for Race Participants (1 to 10)
7 – 1-10 T-Shirts (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
4 – 4/6 Part of Race Series (Grand Prix, etc.) (6=Yes and 4=No)
5 – 0/5 Professional Photography (5=Yes and 0=No)
6 – 4/6 Chip Timing (6=Yes and 4=No)
7 – 3/7 Certified Course (by USA Track & Field) (7=Yes and 3=No)
7 – 1-10 Course (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
4 – 1-10 Parking (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
8 – 1-10 Entertainment (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
10 – 0-10 Age Groups (10 if 5-year groups; 0 if 10-year groups)
5 – 0/5 Indoor Shelter from Elements (0 if none; 5 if provided)
5 – 1-10 Bathroom Facilities
TOTAL – 99
Age Group: ?
Overall: 657 of 2,272 (28.9%)