This morning, something happened that I’ve always dreamed about.
I ran (for exercise) for the first time at about age 16. My Dad had always been a “jogger” and was always bugging me to go out running with him. I avoided it at all costs. He finally broke me down and I laced on some sneakers and shorts. It was in the early evening of a warm, late spring day. We stretched a little on the front porch and then I begrudgingly got started. We went to the end of our short block, turned right, passed 2 more streets and then I declared I’d had enough. My Dad said, “Are you sure? We’ve only been running for 3 minutes.” Ugh.
While that was the first time I went out with him, it was not the last. I didn’t really enjoy running then, but as a teenage girl who would do anything to avoid spending time with her parents, I still really enjoyed being with him out there on the road. Exercising with my Dad seemed somehow removed from the “total lack of coolness” of being around him under other circumstances. My Dad would use the time to tell me about his day, his aspirations and about how much he loved to run. I would listen, complain and wonder how much longer I’d have to be out there. I also got a chance to talk to him about how I was doing. Running allowed me to break down the barriers my teenaged attitude was building around our relationship.
My Dad died about 3 years later. Now I have many wonderful things left to remind me of what a lucky person I am to have had such an incredible man in my life for as long as I did. But I think perhaps the thing that’s encouraged my survival the most is the running.
He loved being with me. In fact, he loved being together with all of our family. He was a great Dad. He was an amazing husband to my mother and she was lucky enough to have also been dragged kicking and complaining into running with him. Of course, I couldn’t have known it at that time, but running with him was such a special way for me to share myself with him. Somewhere during that time, the seed was planted in me for a lifelong love of running.
Fast forward many years and I still miss my Dad more than I could explain. I’ve since experienced more loss, in the form of a divorce, and once again, running helped me find my way back to myself. Running (and triathlons) also helped bring my love into my life and we now have a beautiful family.
As I often see families out running together, I’ve always wished my family could do it too. I’ve savored that image of mom running alongside dad pushing the kiddo(s) in the jogger stroller.
Injuries, schedules and excuses had always seemed to prevent it from happening. But this year, that changed.
I started training in January for my first half marathon in a long while. A consummate competitor and lover of all things “race,” my 5 year old son’s curiosity was peaked hearing me talk about my race preparations. And that, my dear friends, has changed everything!
So this morning, I got to see one of my dreams realized. My husband pushed our toddler in the stroller as we ran a family fun-run. (In all honesty, they did the 5k and I did 2 laps on the same course for a 10k but I’m in training so you’re not going to hold me to the strictest details, right?!?) I fulfilled a personal best by finishing my 6.2 miles in 1:00:39. But my son was the star of the family. He came in second in the 5k for little boys (aged 5?)! The child ran 3.1 miles with his father and sister, 2 more blocks in the kids’ run and then got to stand on the podium while a crowd cheered for him. So cool, right?
I’m sorry everyday that my Dad isn’t around to see me and the amazing life I’m so proud to lead. But today has been a banner day for me in so many ways and I’ll take those however they come.
I’ll always miss him but I know he’d be overjoyed to see me fulfill these dreams – especially since they involve running with my family. I only hope to inspire my children as much as he inspired me!
Who inspires you to be your awesomest you?