We chose Wilmington because of its convenient location of 'on the way to our beach vacation', but this little stop over ended up being a full on vacation for us all on its own. We arrived friday around 7 pm, just in time to check into our huge suite at the Sheraton Suites Downtown (living room, king bed, kitchenette - pretty baller and would have cost much more in a bigger city)
Then we were off to explore downtown. Wilmington has beautiful architecture and wonderful restaurants. We got to spend time in a little park making wishes by a fountain, and we even happened upon this message written on a car...
We ate our dinner at a place called Chelsea's Tavern. The small outdoor tables sat just across from the Opera House, for a breezy and beautiful evening. (and the food was amazing - lemon tabasco toasted quinoa for me, free range chicken for the boy)
And of course we had a pre-race ritual of a good local brew. We stopped at the highly reviewed Washington Street Ale House. It was another lovely establishment. Below are two local ales, one full of hops and heavy and the other light and citrusy. I forget their names but we quickly began sipping from one than the other calling it the jump from a hot tub to a swimming pool
[hot tub] [swimming pool]
**can I pause a minute to compliment Delaware - every place we visited, even the friday night bars, were NOT loud!! I could have a conversation! A concussed brain could breathe! I tip my hat to you!
Saturday morning we walked/jogged through neighborhood streets the mile or so from our hotel to the race start, which was located at the absolutely beautiful waterfront. We had plenty to time there sip water begin sweating because it was going to be a scorcher.
The race was the Arthur J Turner Jr Scholarship 5K. It was started twenty years ago to commemorate the life of 15 year old Arthur J Turner, who died from a rare cancer. Since his passing, the Turner family has gathered to raise money for scholarships for many many children who could not afford school otherwise. They chose a race because Arthur Jr was a dedicated runner and athlete. (note: you don't need to run the race to donate, you can also support online if you're interested. Its a great cause!)
The remarkable thing about this race is the atmosphere this family provides. Something tragic happened to them and for the last twenty years they have gathered to remember and honor a life. They do this in a way that truly celebrates what was great about this boy, we could see that and we didn't even know him. The relatives cook a pancake breakfast for all the finishers and then they sit down with us. It feels like a picnic more than a race.
the Turners, setting up the grill.
here's everyone post-race pancaking
While the course was flat and the race was small (about 150 people) the sun was pulsing and it was a really tough race for me. Heat and head injuries are a bad combination. I started strong because I had no idea how fast I was going. I hit the first mile marker and my watch said 8:30. Soooo you can bet I dialed that back as we rounded the bend and reached the boardwalk with no shade.
Mile two came and I ran that in about 9:15 - which is precisely when I hit my wall. I took a brief walking break to get water and realized I'd so much rather stop and hang out with the friendly Turner volunteers than keep going. My entire body flushed with sweat and I really felt faint. I dragged on for the final mile but I was smart enough to walk most of it.
If I didn't feel so terrible, I would have taken in the beauty of the course. Or at least I would have not snapped at Neil when he pointed out some of its finer sights. There were tree lined streets and even a minor league ball park. "I need no talking right now! I'll appreciate it later when I'm not dying!" (and I did... later)
I walked and stumbled and finished mile three in over 12 minutes to cross the finish line at 30:31. And I don't mean to be insensitive by drawing a parallel between the tragedy in the Turner family and my experience but I will say there was something about seeing them that truly inspired me.... because it was really encouraging to finish feeling awful but knowing that someday the pain will be behind me and I will be able to pull what is good from all of this. I don't ever want to forget what I've been through but I don't want to be someone who wallows either. I'd like my future to be like a picnic.
just for fun: here is us before the race
and here's my stunning self after
We took a long walk, cleaned ourselves up a bit, hydrated a bunch, got some coffee, and a few short hours later I looked like a human again!
We settled on lunch at the Iron Hill Brewery. With no one else on the upper balcony but us, we were able to pretend that it was rented out exclusively for our expensive and romantic whims.
craft beer wishes and hummus platter dreams
race: Arthur J Turner Jr Scholarship 5K
location: Wilmington, DE
charity: Arthur J Turner Jr Scholarship Foundation