Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Salute to Running Dads

So I'm more than 3 weeks late on this post and Father's Day was last weekend, but better late than never when it comes to Take It and Run Thursday.

I had a wonderful childhood growing up. My parents were supportive of anything and everything I wanted to try. They encouraged me and took me to the store for soccer cleats, sneakers, bats, you name it. And it wasn't just sports. They encouraged me in the classroom and socially. In short, as Randy Pausch said in his book, I hit the parental lottery. I think I knew it at the time but I've been able to appreciate it more and more by the day.

In fact, my parents' 34th anniversary was on Father's Day, so there was a double celebration. They're as much in love now as they were 34 years ago (or so they tell me).

While both parents were incredibly encouraging, it was my dad that inspired me to run. When I was three years old, he trained for a marathon in Harrisburg, PA. He's been athletic his whole life and really took to the training. And when I say training, he did it big time. While most people do some intervals and a couple long runs, he went all out. In the months before the marathon, he was topping out at 50-60 miles a week consistently. And, he was doing this with a wife and 3-year old at home. Oh, and a full-time job. He's amazing.

At some point, I want to sit down and interview him about his experience. At that time (1982), no one knew about how long you could wear sneakers, what gels were, what and why to taper, etc. He just ran because he loved to do it, and he was good at it.

He was training to qualify for Boston, which at that time was a 3:00 marathon (vs. 3:10 now). And he was on track for the whole race until he had to stop at mile 24 to walk. He was getting dizzy (no electrolyte training) and was cramping. That walking cost him a BQ and he finished at 3:14. He knew then that he never wanted to do it again.

When I started running a couple of years ago, he couldn't have been more excited. We talked a lot about mileage and how much I should do and how much I should rest, etc. He had an extra excitement in his voice when we talked about it and it was just so fun to talk about.

He joined me at the New Orleans Marathon last February. The picture at the top left is after the race. I have it framed and sitting in my living room. I look at it often and just can't stop smiling. If you look at that picture, you can see how much pride he has in his son. We couldn't get those smiles off our faces all day.

And now? He's been trying and trying to get back into running because I think he misses it now that I'm doing all these crazy races. He has a bad back and that's caused him problems in the past, but I know he wants to hit the roads and do a little something. I'm so proud of him for trying to get back out there (in addition to him hitting the gym regularly).

So, thank you, Dad, and Happy Father's Day. On long miles, it's the pride you and Mom have in me that keeps me going.


Mel-2nd Chances said...

what an amazing tribute to your dad, and happy belated anniversary to your parents, that's amazing!

Marlene said...

What a touching and inspiring post!

Petraruns said...

This is such a moving and inspiring post. I had no idea - and why would I? - that your dad ran so much as well but it must make it so much more meaningful. I hope you sent this post to your parents?

ShirleyPerly said...

Great post about your dad. I remember you mentioning in the past that your dad ran but I had no idea he was a 3-hour marathoner!

Indeed, a lot of things have greatly the last 20-30 years in the running world. Perhaps he might consider Chi Running or some other mid-foot running technique? I've heard it's helped a lot of people with joint problems and other limitations get back to running. I used to run heel-toe when I started out in the 70's but switched when I got into marathoning. Much less impact on the body.