Ironman Countdown

Thursday, September 3, 2015

One Month to Go -- and the Best Big Sister Ever

Over the last ten days, the following things have occurred:  I had an "emergency" root canal; I worked through a few other aches and pains, we celebrated Julia's birthday three times; my kids started 2nd grade/PreK, and began their soccer seasons; I ran 15 miles one day and biked 75 miles the next; and I started making my packing check-lists for IMMD.   Whew!
first day of school

birthday celebrating at the National Aquarium

Chick-Fil-A birthday dinner at the pool

Time is flying.  Only one month to go!

Labor Day Weekend begins tomorrow afternoon.  I have a lot of training to fit in over this three day weekend (including my second century/100 mile ride), as well as celebrate the end of yet another beautiful summer and pool season.  This summer came and went in a blink for me.  I can't quite wrap my head around it.  It has been so much fun, and my children seemed to have had a blast.  And while I have really enjoyed IM training, and tried very hard to appreciate my health along the way, I am looking forward to being done, to be able to look at a weekend on the calendar and not think of how I can squeeze in five hours on the bike.  It will be nice to just go back to running for the sake of running; of biking when I feel like it; of not swimming AT ALL.

And so here I am, at another 10 Day Dedication.  This one will be all about my big sister, Marianne.  While I wrote about my brothers last time, and the influence they have had in my life, it is really my sister who has been the greatest presence in my world (other than my parents, and of course James and the kids).

Mare & me, with Kelly the dog 1978

Dottie & Kit
I often joke about the line from the wonderfully understated movie, A League of their Own, where Kit talks about  being the little sister to Dottie, who is a superstar in every way.  She says "Do you hear how dad introduces us?  This is our daughter Dottie.  This is our other daughter, Dottie's sister."  I say this often:  I am Marianne's sister.  And honestly, while Kit in the movie said these words laced with some jealousy and insecurity, I do not feel that way about Marianne at all.  I adore her.  She's just over 6 years older than me, and is my best friend.  Everyone who meets her loves her, and they walk away from her knowing they have met someone special.  Her closest friends will tell you how lucky they consider themselves for being part of her circle.   She is amazing
chopping down a Christmas tree, 1986

And it happens ALL THE TIME when I am introduced as my parents' daughter, or one of the Markey girls: "oooohhh, you're the teacher!"  or "oooohhh, you're the David Letterman fan."  Seriously.  I was actually at my high school for an alumni event, where I had once been student body president and rocked great grades, student-athlete etc. etc... and the principal, who KNEW ME back then, looked at me and said... "don't tell me... I remember, your last name is Markey, right?"  I said "yes."  She says, "You're a teacher!"  Um no, just a lawyer but whatevs.  Marianne, by the way, had minimal involvement in high school. I don't say that as a slight to her, but just to explain why the fact that she was remembered so easily, even at the place where I had been a queen bee, is so hysterical.  But the best story occurred during one of my very first jury trials.  We were starting the process of picking the jury, so the room was full of potential jurors.  The judge asks a series of questions to "weed out" people who may not be able to be "fair and impartial."  One of the first questions is:  does anyone know the Defendant, Defendant's attorney or the prosecutor?"  So there I am, standing at the front of the courtroom, in serious-mode, in my suit and with my files.  And when the judge asks, "does anyone know the prosecutor, Colleen McGuinn?" one hand goes up, and the woman says, "Aren't you Marianne Markey's little sister?"  See what I mean?  I was not even in the town or county of my childhood or anything!

Marianne is, or at some point has been: a pilot; a scuba diver; a teacher; a writer for David Letterman; a movie buff; David Bowie's biggest fan; a handy man; an electrician; a swimmer; a life guard; an Ivy League attendee; a special ed teacher; a big sister; a little sister; a coach; a dog-lover; a cat-tolorater, a beach-goer; a world traveler; a daughter; a wife; an ocean rescuer; a swim coach; a photographer; a marathoner (4 times over by my count); a triathlete; a tiler; a bathroom remodeler; a carpenter; a furniture re-finisher; a rule-breaker; an amazing story-teller; an aunt; a godmother; an Olympic torch carrier; an underwater backstroke phenom; and a yoga enthusiast.

Just based on that alone, you can see why she would be a fun person to have around.  She can talk to anyone about anything.  She will tell you her opinions on an issue in no uncertain terms.  She will confront a person directly if there's an issue to be discussed.  She is so open with her feelings.  She is so trusting of the good in people... which is funny because I basically don't like people (again, not YOU people, dear readers, other people) and I am essentially non-confrontational... gotta keep those feelings locked deep inside!!  Her husband also doesn't like people and is a "feeling-locker-upper."  I think we both need Marianne to balance us out for that reason!
Marianne & Sean, with Lukey
OBX Splash & Dash:  James, me, Mare & Sean

 Marianne is the reason I became a swimmer.   She swam, so I did.  She was a sprinter and mostly a 100 yard Backstroke specialist.  I was a distance freestyler, and evolved into a 200 yard Backstroker. (Haha, "evolved."  Can you tell I have a son who is into Pokemon?)  When she graduated college, and was heading towards turning 30, she took a stab at triathlon.  She had been running, and swimming of course was still pretty natural for her.  So she added biking to it and off she went.  I don't know that I would have ever tried it had it not been for her.  In fact, when I told her I wanted to try my hand at a sprint triathlon in 2001 (I was 26), she took me to buy a hybrid bike.  She did my first race with me.  And for many years since, we have done the Dewey Beach Sprint Triathlon in Delaware together, making it a "girls weekend" at the beach.  She also, as you may already know, is responsible for getting me my first road/racing bike on the cheap.
Dewey Beach Tri 2012

Marianne is kind and incredibly thoughtful.  She will do anything for you... give you the shirt off her back, as the saying goes. But probably my favorite thing is that we have our own inside jokes and "language" that no one else gets.  It has always been that way; and because of it, we make each other laugh.  When Marianne is laughing, like really laughing with tears in her eyes, I know I am sharing in a great moment.

Waterman's Sprint Tri 2012
Dewey Beach Sprint Tri, 2014

I have never felt like it was tough "growing up in her shadow."  It has never bothered me that I am identified as "Marianne's sister."  I think that is in large part due to her... she doesn't cast a shadow over me of her own making, if you know what I mean.  She was never mean to me growing up or insulting or anything like that... I mean, we fought sometimes as siblings do, but she did not hold herself out as better than me or anyone else.   She was simply her engaging self, and I love her for that.  It also helps that we are very different people;  no one can really compare us to one another because we are our own persons... and we can probably thank our parents for that.

Mare & me, with Jack in-utero (2007)
She has only ever been supportive of me, of anything I have ever wanted to do.  She showed up to cheer for me during both marathons I have done.  She has stuck up for me on countless occasions (again, I being the non-confrontational one)... including one of my favorite stories which involved her driving over to the convent at my catholic high school one night, asking to speak to the nun who taught my calculus class, and confronting her on being unnecessarily cruel to me on a personal level.... I mean, who does that?  And the end result?  Said nun called my house that night to apologize.... to me... her 18 year old student who she did not like.

In fact, due to some life complications regarding the children's extra-curricular commitments, Marianne is going to be my sherpa for IMMD so that James can herd the children through Friday and Saturday's events, before heading down to watch the latter half of the race and the finish.  (A "sherpa" in triathlete terms is the person who goes with you and helps you with your gear, parking the car, cheerleading, etc.)  She is going with me the day before to packet-pickup and gear check.  She will be my calming influence, as she always is.  Again, her selfless-ness shines through.
Jack with his amazing godmother

And so my beautiful sister, these Ten Days are dedicated to you... in gratitude for all that you have done and continue to do for me.  Thank you for lighting the way for me, down this road of swimming and triathlon.  Thank you for always setting the example of what it means to be kind, to be a decent human being.  Thank you for believing in me, and loving me, and for making me laugh.  I love you.
Marianne & Kelly, 1976ish

with our Dad
 Over these next 10 Days, I have:
5 Miles of Swimming
218 Miles of Biking
33 Miles of Running
the five of us


  1. She is a great person and a WONDERFUL friend! I love her--you're not too bad yourself, Marianne's sister!