It almost never came to be. A horse and a cold almost derailed my dad's plan to run the Free Press 1/2 Marathon. Stepped on by a horse, my dad sent me a picture of his foot which was quite purple a mere 2 weeks before the race. He said it hurt pretty good, but to ensure that it wasn't broken he did actually go get an xray, which showed no broken bones. Whew! With that unfortunate accident sidelining his running, my dad also came down with a serious enough cold to require antibiotics. In total over the last 2 weeks, he said he may have run 9 miles. Talking to him the week of the race, my dad sounded terrible and said the he would have to let the foot dictate the pace.
Despite his ailments, that didn't stop my dad from talking mad smack to Dirrty Girl indicating that the only thing she would need to follow on race day would be the blinking light on the back of his hat as we raced toward the podium. I had to stand between the warring factions pre-race.
After what seemed like an eternity as they rolled the starting waves, my dad and I quickly got into an easy rhythm. However, that rhythm was soon interrupted several times as we made our way to the international crossing ,the Ambassador Bridge, and were reduced to a walk as we were corralled like cattle.
Crossing the bridge, we saw Dirrty Girl and her partner having to make an unplanned pit stop and sought quickly to seize upon the opportunity to put some ground on them. Our lead was short lived as they made up the ground and moved ahead for good in Windsor.
My dad was moving strong throughout the first half of the race, and maintained a steady pace.
Entering back in the U.S. via the Windsor Tunnel, the effects of the cold and the sore foot began to slow our pace. We walked a bit more, but who really cared? I was out with my dad racing again. Something we hadn't done in we figured conservatively 17 years. I played sherpa fetching water at aid stations, reminded him to take in some gels, and checked his general progress as we made our way through the final miles. My sweet women's knee high socks that I had worn kept getting attention from fellow runners and watchers keeping a grin on my dad's face as we made our way through Mexicantown and Corktown.
As we headed up the home stretch towards the finish, I was filled with a lot of emotion. Here we were, father (60) and son (35) getting a chance to finish a 1/2 marathon together despite numerous obstacles. How freaking cool was that??To add to the whole family getting involved, my sister drove down to the finish to capture the moment. She even had "Team Grandpa" shirts made for my nieces.
Despite soundly beating us by about 20 min, I posed with Dirrty Girl who ran a great race in her own right.
Going into this 1/2 marathon, there is no way I could have scripted a more perfect day than the one that turned out yesterday. Sure there are days when you are going to turn the screws and yourself inside out to achieve that a PR, and then there are days like yesterday, where just going for a run with the people you love, respect, admire is all that really matters. Our time of 2 hr 58 min won't go down as PR but it will go down as a memory of a lifetime.