Ironman Countdown

Monday, August 24, 2015

40 Days to Go -- and a nod to my Three Big Brothers

Greetings from training camp!  I'm feeling pretty good overall, with a nice touch of anxiety and panic.  It has been a true test for me to balance everything these days:  long training sessions, the children, my home-life, my job, everything else.  But I'm making it work as best as I can... I am very lucky to have a husband who supports this whole crazy-train, and a job that allows me to primarily set my own schedule.  I have been fortunate enough to have a lot of leave built up, and the flexibility to take work home, so I can squeeze in some half days or days off as needed.  It is exhausting, however, keeping up all these schedules!  I'm ready for a nap... but it'll have to wait 40 days or so!

So I'm getting down to the wire here.  If you have been following along with my 10 Day Dedications blocks that coincide with training, you may have noticed I have only 4 left, including this one.  I remember when I first read Swim Bike Mom Meredith's blog, with her dedications prior to her first Ironman, I though: what a great way to stay focused and grateful.  When I asked her for permission to totally copy-cat that idea here, she was so supportive and said that it really does help with the focus of positive energy.  And so it has.  We are getting down to my core people here....

So this 10 Day Dedication is for my three brothers:
John, James, and Patrick.
James, John & Patrick (Easter modeling, 1984?)

(^^I know none of you three are on Facebook and think it's dumb, so I hope you don't hate me for writing all this!!!)

Being the youngest has many pluses and minuses.  Being the youngest and a girl with three older brothers is a pretty cool advantage, and I seemed to get a lot of "street cred" being the Markey boys' little sister.  I learned very early on the following:  boys never grow up; boys are gross; boys smell; bathroom humor, as my mom calls it, never gets old; boys are hysterically funny; boys are fiercely loyal.  My brothers were all basically wonderful to me.  I have some good stories of being messed with or teased, but nothing remotely tortuous.   I learned a little from each of them; and I like to think I share a few character traits with each of them too.
with my Dad, for his 75.5 Birthday party

Having three brothers is like having a "get out of jail free" card, so to speak.  When I was on various swim teams, or when I would meet guys in college, etc., it was deemed cool that I understood football, basketball, and baseball... like, really understood the game and also didn't seem to mind the general male obsession with watching sports ALL THE TIME.  It was appreciated that I could take teasing fairly well, that I was not mortified at their sense of humor.  I don't know, I guess growing up with brothers just thickened my skin a little bit.  When a teammate would hear I had three older brothers, they'd nod like it explained something about my ability to brush off whatever gross thing another one had done (swim team boys can be disgusting, mostly in a funny way.)
the boys with Dad, Easter modeling, 1989ish

Here's a little about each of them:

cheering for me at MCM
John:  He's the oldest.  When I was little, I called him "John-John."  He use to read "Mr. Quiet" (of the Mister Books) to me and do all the voices. We are about 10 years apart, so to him I was very much the baby.  He has never been mean to me.  He never called me names.  And he never ever yelled at me.  Seriously, never... just mutual adoration. We always had a very sweet relationship, given our age difference.  I cried when he went away to college (it was 45 minutes away, but that didn't matter to me at 8 years old).   John has a huge heart, a great sense of humor, and the kind of personality you just want to be around.  He can talk to anyone.

He is an amazing uncle to my kids; they just giggle when he is around.  I am so grateful to him for always loving me and looking out for me, no matter how old I get. It couldn't have been easy, being the oldest of so many, but he didn't seem to mind.  Probably helped that he was the tallest and strongest too, so the role just suited him.
John & me, 1987

James, me, and John at the Terps game, 2006

at my wedding, 2004

stylin' the LT jersey (1985?)
James:  He is the second in line, and just over 7 years older than me.  Growing up, James was just cool.  He knew all the good bands to like in the 80's; he had cool concert t-shirts.  He would buy albums (in cassette form!) from Kemp Mill record store when I begged him to, like Bon Jovi's "Slippery When Wet" (though I'm sure his soul died a little doing so).  James like The Specials, the Cure, R.E.M., The Dead Milkmen, General Public, The Police, the Beastie Boys, Run-DMC... he was so into alternative rock and everything cool about music!!!  Just the coolest.  Plus, he was smart... IS smart.  I remember it being slightly infuriating to my parents that my brother, who was quite "social" (clearing throat) in high school could pull straight A's without batting an eye.  People say I look most like him, but I think its just becuase we both have dark hair and blue eyes.

I have loved watching him become a Dad, too.  His children are growing into such great kids... three boys and a girl. We both love the NY Giants... "all the good guys, play on the Gi's side..."  I don't remember when we made that up, but we did.   James has the same best friends he had as a teenager, which is a pretty neat thing.  We share the same sensitivity, and he loves to cook (like me!).  My favorite memories of him are all pretty goofy, because, despite how introverted he can be, he is also super funny. 
James & me, 1989

As a side note, and I have to mention this, one of the greatest things James ever did was marry my amazing sister-in-law Kathryn.
cheering for Mare & me at the Dewey Beach Tri
And while this is about my brothers, she gets included too.   Kathryn is kind, beautiful inside and out, a wonderful fun mom, and a great friend.  She is so supportive of me, and she's a terrific aunt to my kids.  Julia asks for her all the time, wanting to know when she will see "Aunt Kaf-rin" and have a sleepover.  Kathryn is a strong runner, too, and recently did her first triathlon, which is simply awesome!!!  Thank you Kathryn for marrying my brother... I hope he knows how lucky he is, haha!  I am so glad we are family.  Thank you for loving me and my family.

at my parents anniversary party

chillin' at Nags Head
Patrick:  He is the fourth child, just over 5 years older than me, and was the baby until I stole that from him when he was only in kindergarten.  Poor guy.  Of all of my siblings, Patrick played with me the most.  He was the perfect age when Star Wars came to be, and he had all the action figures and ships and the like.  We would set up "the guys" in the basement for hours... he was always Han Solo but would "let" me be Luke Skywalker (a raw deal, I learned later) and of course Princess Leia.  We would put Yoda in the plant... you know, to mimic the Degaba System.  We played a lot of football in the basement.  He knew exactly what to say to make me cry, and he also knew exactly what to say or do to make me laugh.  Sometimes when I watch my Jack and catch him teasing Julia, with simply a look, and I hear her whiny reaction, it's Patrick and me, 35 years ago.  Patrick could skateboard, and he could eat an entire sleeve of Oreo cookies in mere seconds.
when I came around, stealing the baby position

He does the best imitations of my father, both gestures and phrases so dearly familiar to us kids.  It helps that he looks so much like Dad too.   It's done with love, because I know how much he simply adores our Dad, but, man, IT IS FUNNY!   He is now a father of five himself:  4 girls and 1 boy.  His children are growing up into such great people, and I know he loves them more than anything.  I love watching him be silly with them, because it reminds me so much of what he was like as a kid.

the boys with Dad, Ireland 1990

Don't get me wrong, we are NOT a Norman Rockwell painting of a family.  I don't talk to my brothers on the daily; weeks can go by, sometimes months, before we may chat or text, let alone see each other.  All of us are busy with our own lives, and we just don't have that kind of relationship where we talk all the time about all the things we are doing... part of that is, well, they are boys and I am forever the baby sister.  But it's also just not how we are.  That being said, there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of them.  They are part of the fabric that makes me who I am, even as a "grown up."  I haven't lived under the same roof with them in 20 years, but that matters little because they are with me everyday.  I look up to them, even now, more than they will ever know.  They are my big brothers.  Many people are lucky enough to get one big brother.  I got three.  Each of them love me and relate to me in a different way.  And I know that if I needed to, I could call each of them right now and they would be here.  And that's what counts.  We are there for each other when it matters.  Always.

And so, my Three Big Brothers, know that I love you... we don't say that enough but I do.  I am proud to be your little sister.  I am proud of the men you have become.  I am so lucky to have been raised with you and that parts of you make me who I am now.  I will think of you during these next 10 Days of training.  James and Patrick, I will pray for your families and for you both.  Johnny, I will pray for your happiness and joy, because you deserve that.  I love you guys.

During these next Ten Days, I have:
5 Miles of Swimming
185 Miles of Biking
35 Miles of Running

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