I completed a couple of interesting NCAA tournament runs. And it appears possible I'm about to go on another one.
I'm talking about running a March marathon that puts me in position to start a second race once I reach the finish line: A race to a television to see the Tar Heels play.
It's frustrating to have two of my biggest loves after my family -- running and Carolina basketball -- intersect at a most unfortunate time.
This led me to do something I never had done in a race and haven't done since: run with a radio. I found the area Tar Heel Sports Network station so that I could not only listen to the pregame show, but also follow the early part of the game before I finished the race.
I paid extra for extended checkout so that I could dash from the finish line inside the Virginia Beach Convention Center to my hotel room about 500 yards away (I lived in Burlington at the time). I watched memorable Carolina basketball history, a 73-56 victory, from that hotel room. And I didn't get into the shower until halftime.
Carolina's NCAA tournament games and my marathon schedule since '97 worked out fairly well until last season when I ran the Tobacco Road Marathon in Cary. It was supposed to start at 7 a.m., and Carolina's second-round game against Washington started about 12:20.
My family put up with a smelly runner during the first half before I jumped into the shower at halftime.
History appears likely to repeat itself Sunday. For the third time in three years, I'm running the Tobacco Road Marathon in Cary and, darn my luck, UNC is in a Friday-Sunday sub-regional in Greensboro. Should UNC get past Lamar or Vermont, the Tar Heels could play at 12:20 again. I'm obviously hoping for an on-time marathon start this time!
None of that is even my most memorable experience on the day of a Carolina game in the NCAA tournament. That would be in March 14, 1998, when the Tar Heels survived a 93-83 overtime victory on a Saturday afternoon against Charlotte.
I remember saying after the game that that was about all the excitement I could take for one day. Boy, was I wrong. Within 3 hours from the finish of that game, I was delivering our younger son in our bathroom. And, no, we had not planned a home birth!
To say the least, I'll take dashing home or to a hotel room after a marathon to that postgame delivery any day!
I had a layover at Hartsfield-Jackson airport in Atlanta and couldn't find any restaurant or bar willing to switch one of the TVs to the hockey game. My wife, Jean, was giving me updates by phone with every goal or when a period ended. I caught a little of the game on my radio as my plane was flying over North Carolina, and didn't find out the final outcome until I landed in Norfolk.
I wouldn't be at all upset if CBS decided to start Carolina's game on Sunday later in the afternoon to eliminate the chance of more race-day frustration!