Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Fathers Day!

I just want to say Happy Fathers Day to my wonderful father who taught me so many, many things.  

Being dragged around the country from race to race while I was little taught me a love for long road trips (although I think being crammed into a Chevrolet Chevette with my brothers instilled in me the knowledge that I didn't want kids).  Thank you for never actually pulling the car over as you threatened to do many times.  I remember the feeling of the open road in the wee hours of the morning, the smells of fields, the stars above and the feeling that our family were the only people left in the world. The smell of McDonald's coffee will forever be associated with those trips.  Thank you for finally buying a van and building the sleeping loft in the back... I genuinely believe that act saved me from fratricide.

Watching you run incredibly long distances taught me stubbornness, fortitude and mental strength.  It also taught me to be kind to those who were slow in the head because obviously you had been dropped as a child.  Seeing the skin peel off your feet, watching you vomit copiously but still stagger off onto the trail in the dark made me realize that there was something wrong with you.  When people asked if I wanted to run long distances "just like daddy", I answered with a vehement "NO!  I HATE running!"  As embarrassing as it was to admit that my dad ran abnormal distances and ate baby food while doing it, I also was proud to have the skinniest, fittest dad on the block... knowing that you could run down and kick ass on any guy that hurt me was a great comfort.

I kicked against the running gene for 34 years... I saw that running made you cry, made you bleed and hurt and made you cranky and tired all the time... it didn't look like a good time to me.  What I didn't see clearly at that age was the peace and joy running also gave you, and I didn't realize what an amazing treasure that your running friends and the whole running community were.  I was learning lessons of patience and selflessness by waiting for hours at aid stations to crew you... it paid off later in college when I became the best bike racer's girlfriend because I didn't bitch, moan and complain about doing exactly what I had grown up doing...albeit with more expensive toys and a lot more shaved legs.  

During a drive across Wisconsin at age 34 when my running genes suddenly woke up and said "it's time to run", I had no choice but to listen.  And then I understood.  Understood you, understood the joy and the peace that is found in the long run.  Understood the mental testing, understood the lessons you were teaching, understood what a lucky childhood that I had.  It comes all back around again next weekend when I will run Western States... the first place where I saw you cry, saw you in pain and laid low but still saw you run down the track at Placer High to finish your first 100 miler.  That was 30 years ago... and I'm just sorry that it took me this long to make it there.  Thank you for everything Dad.  I love you!


  1. Love this! How lucky you were to have such a good example and mentor. My Dad thinks I'm totally nuts for doing what I do. ; ) Love your blog!

  2. I am not quite sure what to say...I know life was a bit crazy in those days. That first trip to the Western States was totally unplanned. I was chosen from the wait list only 1 week before the race. Just throw everything into the car(the chevette) and head west.

    I am just happy you have found something that you can really enjoy. The fact that it is running is even better, but any thing would be fine. It makes a papa proud to see his daughter succeed as many things as you have done over the years. You have been a pleasure to watch as you have developed and challenged yourself over the years.

    Your words will follow me through the rest of my life and I will cherish them always.

    Good luck at the Western. The snow will make it a tough year but it is downhill from the top of the first hill, just ignore those minor 3000 ft climbs along the way. I know you will do fine.

    btw...why does everyone say I was cranky...I thought I was pretty easy going especially compared of some of my friends. Just because your mother would kick me out of the aid station when all I needed was a little nap...I am sure you know how that is...

    A little late getting to read this in that I have grampa duty this weekend. 100 miles might be easier.

  3. Thanks Julie! and thanks for making me cry Dad! Love you! Wish you guys were going to be there this weekend! (and you WERE cranky at times.. and at other times you were happy... ). I try and nap on the trail but that damn Debbie won't let me! She just keeps dragging me along...

  4. It's because I LOVE you! You are going to do awesome this weekend. I'm so happy that I get to be with you over the mountains. One foot in front of the other I'll be right there!

  5. Thanks for making ME cry, Coleen! It made me think how rare it is for a little girl to get to see her daddy at his weakest moments, but also at his strongest moments - often all wrapped up in the same second in time. Adrian was whining once and I asked her, "If your dad was running a race and he was really tired, would he stop?" She sighed heavily. "No," she said, "he'd keep going." What wonderful teaching moments come from ultras! You are going to rock Western. It's in your blood. Can't wait to see pictures of you on that track. Enjoy every second!