What do you write in a blog about running on father’s day when your father passed away twenty-six years ago? That’s my dilemma as I sit here with my fingers resting on the keyboard and a blank screen staring at me.
I’m about to fabricate a connection between my dad and running, when I recall the Sunday morning in 1981 he drove me to my first marathon, the inaugural Philadelphia Independence Marathon. He was so excited you would have thought he was going to run the race. Instead, he was excited for me. I dig a little deeper and remember his face, still beaming three and a half hours later as he waited for me at the finish line. I had suffered the previous six miles, but managed a smile when I saw my dad, and the cooler full of beer at his feet.
Dad wasn’t around for my next eleven marathons, but he was with me the entire 26.2 miles. He was a quiet warrior; lost both parents by the time he was twelve, survived some of the toughest neighborhoods in New York City and ran track in high school; I have some of his medals. Somehow, he wound up graduating from Dayton University with an engineering degree and settled in Philly.
Dad was a great walker. He took up golf later in life and always walked the course. He would still walk five miles to my house when he was in his sixties, push-mow my two-thirds of an acre of lawn, then walk home. That image got me thinking. Being a father and everything that goes with it – raising kids, putting food on the table, paying the bills, sending kids to college and all the other stuff – is equivalent to running a marathon each day of the week.
So Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers out there! I declare you honorary marathoners for the day. Run your fingers across the picture of the Boston Marathon finish line below; then go have a beer.