On the last day of my vacation, I ran the San Francisco marathon with my little brother.
I don’t even know where to begin. We decided to do it in December: his registration was my Christmas gift to him. But he trained all on his own, with very little support and a hugely challenging work schedule. His determination and good spirits throughout the training and his level-headed, light-hearted approach to the actual race were hugely inspiring to me. He was heroic.
There were so many memorable moments, but the best, the most poetic, where when, after the climb to the Golden Gate Bridge, we turned to see the city backlit in a yellow dawn. There were rays of golden light shooting down into the water from the fog over the bay.
Much later, after we’d come through the Presidio and Golden Gate Park, when my brother’s legs were tired and he wasn’t smiling so much anymore, we were running down Haight Street and I swore I heard familiar music playing faintly behind us, but growing louder all the time. Could it be? No! Or could it? It was! A guy had strapped a boom box to the back of his bike and was blasting “Chariots of Fire” as he rode along the marathon course. Ahead of us, Haight dropped down towards the bay, and we could see the water beyond the city in the distance.
We knew our sister would be waiting for us in the Mission at Mile 20, and just before we reached her, our paths crossed with her husband, who was running the 2nd half marathon. Imagine seeing him like that, among all those people, but there he was, just when his course joined with ours. And a few minutes later, there she was too with her baby!
And on into the Dogpatch, where people lining the course urged us on, promising we were almost there, although really, we weren’t even half as close as they claimed we were. It was not until Mile 26, when my brother saw the marker and could finally see the Finish, that he smiled again. We looked at one another and he picked up speed, and we covered that .2 mile in no time at all. It was as if time, and the world, had stopped for us. And before I knew it, he had grabbed my hand and we raised our arms as we crossed the finish line. I don’t know that I have ever seen him happier.
And that was the perfect end to a perfect vacation among siblings.