On a Learning Curve

Life may not be easy, but it's always an adventure.

Running with My Dad: A Tribute

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On Saturday, my dad and I set out for a 10-mile run. We left when the temperature was in the 70s and looked promising.  But the humidity was evil: it was hovering around 90%, and I was ready to quit the run at Mile 7. My splits show I was fading, too. 9:00 gradually became 10:00. And I’ll admit to an 11:00 mile when I decided I needed to walk. My dad only “needed” to run 6 miles to make his weekly average of 40, but he gamely agreed to steer me through 10. I decided that 9.3 miles was close enough to 10, and he did not object.

2013 Charlottesville 10 Miler. This is probably around Mile 8.

2013 Charlottesville 10 Miler. This is probably around Mile 8.

But that’s the ugly side of our run. The beauty of it is that we’ve come full-circle. My dad won’t mind me telling you that he’s 64 years old; in fact, he’s quite proud that most people can’t guess his age accurately. He played football and ran track through college but took up running with my mom when we were living in Hawaii around 1980. Almost 35 years later, he still runs 6 miles a day. He no longer runs marathons, and my mom has given up running. On the other hand, I was the child who ran but complained the whole way. I whined through the first 5k I ever ran at the age of 7, and my 5-year-old brother beat me. He pointed out how grossly unfair it was that I won a plaque and he didn’t. I ran high school cross country but only because it kept me in shape for soccer–not because my heart was truly in the sport, right, Mr. Upton? I continued to run in college; again, that was for soccer. Coach Glaeser’s rule was that you couldn’t start unless you could run 5 (hilly) miles in 45 minutes or less.

After college and soccer ended, I had no more reason to run. And since I had blown out both knees playing so much soccer, running wasn’t really a priority. Instead I discovered the elliptical machine, walking, and Pilates; oh, and I also got married and had a whole bunch of babies in rapid succession. It wasn’t until our youngest was 18 months that I tried running again. That was nearly 5 years ago. In that time, I’ve progressed from running 5ks to half marathons. I’ve gone from a couple of casual weekly runs as part of my sanity fitness regime to following training plans and purposefully planning my runs.

One of my first ever races required that I be dressed as a centipede. Yes, a centipede. My dad was the head, our neighbor Mrs. Campbell was the tail, and I was one of 4 children in the middle. I ran behind my dad the whole way wearing antennae and connected to the other centipede runners. Now I run next to my dad. Even when I’m ready to drop back and I tell him to finish without me, he always stays with me.

My parents, both wearing race t-shirts, circa 1981. I'm the little face peeking out from behind my mom.

My parents, both wearing race t-shirts, circa 1981. I’m the little face peeking out from behind my mom.

We ran the Charlottesville 10 Miler together this past March. It rained for the first 4 miles, and we went out too fast because the first 2 miles were mismarked. Still, we finished together in 1:25:00. Just like last Saturday. He only “needed” to run 6, but we finished those 9.3 miles together.


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