It had to be on his terms. It had to be because he had a goal. It had to be because he wanted it more than I did. That in a nutshell, is how my dad has come back to running.
Back in January of 2009, my dad had said he wanted to get back into running and could I come up with a plan? Sure, I could! Got a goal? He said well maybe a ½ marathon and maybe a marathon? What time do I need to run in a marathon to qualify for Boston? My mind immediately drifted back to my junior high and high school days when my dad and I would run and race together. Back to a time when I would call him at work after a run and let him know to the second how fast and how far I had run. I remember the training runs where my dad would effortlessly glide away from me and show me that there was much to learn about how to run. Well now it was going to be my turn. I would turn the screws to him when the time saw fit. You know, give it back to the old man a little bit. It didn’t happen.
Even after getting some new shoes and gear, the early motivation waned away last year. I never asked why, but I couldn’t make him get out there on the road.
Fast forward to about two months ago, when my dad said he wanted to run the Detroit Free Press Half Marathon this year. He is turning 60 and wanted to do something. Could he do it? Absolutely! If there is one thing I know about my dad is that when it is something he wants, he will get it done. Put a brick wall in front of him…he is going through it. I wrote up another plan working within his busy travel schedule for business and added plenty of rest days and some cross training.
It didn’t hit me until his long run of 8 miles this weekend but my dad and I have traded places in some respects. It was not about the time for a distance, the pace, or me giving it back to the old man. Nope, it’s about trading text messages about how his run went in another city, where can he find some hills to run, and when can we run together again. It’s about sharing a banana and giving me a new Power Bar to try after a long run.
I realize now, that my time with my dad out on the road for a run is something special and not to be taken for granted as I did years ago. Some father’s and sons might go fishing, hunting, or throw back a couple of cowboy pops to maintain their relationship when life takes them down different paths. Running has been the road that has led my dad and I back down for another chance to move forward for a few more miles.