Alexander family trains for marathon
By Katie Scarvey
The Salisbury Post
On October 25, the Alexander family is going to log 131 miles.
Not a big deal, you say?
It is if you’re doing it on foot.
On that day, Mark, Linda, Michael, Maddi and Lauren Alexander will run ó and complete, they hope ó the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C.
They’ve been training hard and have probably put more miles on their sneakers this summer than any other family in Salisbury.
Of course they have slightly different reasons for anticipating the day.
Maddi and Lauren are looking forward to the feeling of accomplishment. Michael is too, but he’ll also be relieved to have the torture of running behind him. Linda and Mark will be happy to have another Marine Corps Marathon under their belts ó and to have had the experience with their children, who typically go only to cheer their parents on.
Altough Linda and Mark have run this marathon several times before, it will be the first time for Michael, 26; Maddi, 21; and Lauren, 18.
Mark’s first time was in 2000, when he was supposed to run with Linda, who had “shamed him into doing it” with her, she says. But she broke her hip while training, so Mark had to run it by himself.
They ran the race together in 2001, and in 2004, Linda ran it without Mark.
Linda’s most recent marathon was last November, when she traveled to Greece to run the original marathon course, along with her friends Amaryllis Tores and Molly Conner, the women who encouraged her to get into distance running, she says.
Linda and Mark have been running for about 30 years but only in the past 10 years have they tackled 26.2 miles. Their kids are now taking on that challenge as well.
“I’m not really sure what I was thinking when I decided to do this,” says Lauren, who will be a student at UNC-Chapel Hill this fall.
“I knew it would mean a lot to my mom to run one with her, and we had always talked about doing one as a family. It’s been fun doing something with my parents that they are really interested in. I guess that was the ultimate persuasion.
Lauren started running around the second grade.
She and Maddi would do “little 5Ks and stuff,” she says.
“We were the only two people in our age group and Maddi would always beat me.”
In middle school, her interest turned to soccer and basketball, although as a senior in high school she ran a half marathon in Myrtle Beach.
She says she didn’t really train for that one. “I think I’d run like two miles,” she says. “I did it on a whim.
“It was painful,” she admits.
She says this marathon, will “probably be it” for her.
“I think this will be like, ‘Yes, I did it and it was fun while it happened,'” she says.
She recently ran 15 miles on a training run, the longest distance she’s ever done, she says.
“Getting to those points where you’ve run farther than you’ve ever run, you feel really good about yourself,” she says, adding that the actual running itself isn’t that much fun, “unless you’re having a really good running day.”
Maddi, also a student at UNC-Chapel Hill, ran a year of cross country in high school. She started running when she was in fourth grade and her parents were training for races, she says.
” They probably made us run with them so they wouldn’t have to worry us about being home alone,” she says.
“Our bones have been brittle ever since.”
She’s kidding about that part.
“I think we’ve always admired our parents for doing (the marathons),” she says. “The one in Greece, I thought that was pretty cool.
Maddi has also run a half-marathon.
Of the five, Michael is probably the least gung-ho about the family’s marathon project, although he has only himself to blame for his participation.
Initially, only Linda and the girls were planning to run.
“She asked … and you can’t really say no,” Maddi explained. “She convinced us it would be a fun family thing to do.”
But as Linda sat at the computer waiting to register the three of them, Mark and Michael began bantering back and forth, giving each other a hard time. Somehow, they goaded each other into agreeing to sign up.
“I never thought he’d bite on it,” Mark says.
Neither was really happy about it, Linda says, but neither would back out, either.
“We’re bad about the ‘I dare you’ things,” she adds.
“I swore I’d never do it again,” Mark says. “I’m happy running half marathons and just running for fun.”
Still, he’s looking forward to the family time.
“To me, this is all about the kids this year,” he says.
Michael will be the happiest when it’s over.
“I really don’t like running,” says Michael, although he adds that he doesn’t mind running “if there’s a purpose behind it.”
Michael ran a season of cross country in high school, but even that was on a dare.
“A buddy of mine had an agreement that if I did that he would do a long hike with me,” he explained.
Linda and Mark like the course for the Marine Corps Marathon, which goes through Arlington, Georgetown, and Washington, D.C.
The terrain is flat and the scenery is pretty, Linda says ó although Mark points out that he can’t really appreciate the monuments along the way, since he’s too busy looking for mile markers.
Lots of spectators line the course to cheer the runners on.
“Washington is just a blast,” Linda says.
One of the couple’s favorite stories from running the marathon is when Linda “hit the wall” at mile 20 and was having a tough time finding energy to finish. Mark was trying to talk her through what is for most runners the toughest part of the race.
It was unseasonably warm that day, and Mark ó trying to be helpful ó poured Linda’s water bottle over her head to help cool her off.
Except the bottle was full of pink Gatorade, not water.
Linda says she was too exhausted to even tell him to stop.
“She just let me pour,” Mark says, laughing.
Linda finished the race ó her hair stiff and spiky with Gatorade and her clothing stained pink.
“We’ve had some good times at those races,” shesays.
Typically, about 30,000 runners participate in the event, which is dubbed “The People’s Marathon.” Runners do not have to qualify to enter.
This summer, Michael has been working evenings at a restaurant, so he has had a difficult time working his runs in, but they’ve all been trying to stick to a training schedule.
“Training’s been difficult,” Linda says. “We all run at different paces. That’s been kind of a challenge.”
Linda and Mark often do long runs on the weekend with their friend Bucky Cline.
They try to make sure one of them accompanies the kids on their long runs.
“It’s hard to do those long runs,” she says. “Without somebody pushing you to do it, it’s very easy to stop.”
Even though they sometimes complain about all the running they’ve had to do, you get the idea that this family wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It’ll be a struggle physically and mentally, ” Maddi says, “but we’ll feel good about it. We’ll feel like we can knock down any barrier in our life.
“We’ve kind of gotten to the point where we feel guilty when we don’t run. It’s kind of like a bad habit…you don’t feel good when you don’t do it. It’s kind of like a drug.”
There’s also the camaraderie involved with taking on such a challenge together.
“We’ve always been close,” says Michael. “It’s been fun ó as fun as it can be.”