In 1992, a group of friends decided it would be a good idea to run a marathon. They also thought it would be a good idea for me to run a marathon with them.
This was pre-marriage, pre-kids. I could do anything I wanted to do.
I wanted to go to New York with my friends. I didn’t particularly want to run a marathon. But I did. Very slowly.
I was a casual runner, maybe two or three miles a couple of times a week to keep my heart in shape and my shape intact. In high school I ran cross country. One day Coach Hodges made us run from Terry Sanford Senior High School to the Moose Club which was a block from my house. Instead I just ran home and got my mom, after watching an episode of Gilligan’s Island and eating a cherry Poptart, to drop me off on Pincrest Drive near the back parking lot of the school. I splashed water on my forehead and sprinted toward the track. The coach was impressed with my time that day, as she should have been. I’d never run such a distance so quickly. I didn’t feel too bad because we picked up Maxwell Ruppe on the way back. Had we not done this, I think we both might still be running.
In August, DJ informed me that we were running a marathon together. “Dad, it’s a fundraiser for camp. We just have to raise $2,000 to help send kids to camp who otherwise could not afford to be there. It’s called Run-A-Kid-To-Camp.”
“Couldn’t we just drive them?” I asked. “Do you realize that a marathon is 26.2 miles and that you have never run more than the length of our backyard in your life?”
DJ assured me she could do it. To prepare us, we went to the expert on marathon running for dummies, my brother-in-law Matt. In a former life, he trained out of shape people to race.
He set us up with a training calendar and told us we should:
- But new tennis shoes to avoid ruining our hips, knees and shins
- Get this gel to eat so that we don’t go into antiepileptic shock and die
- Purchase appropriate run wear so that we don’t get bloody nipples
After he got through with me, I was even more convinced this was a horrible idea for a fifty year old with achy knees and a very sensitive chest.
But I have a problem. It’s I Want To Do Anything That Will Give Me Time With My Daughters syndrome. Plus, it angers me to think that I can’t do what I was able to do when I was 25.
So here I am, training for a marathon.
Because DJ is not in town, we encourage each other over text. She does not like to run, so when I started this adventure, I fully expected her to pooze within the first few weeks. She has not. In fact, the weekend our schedule demanded a 10 mile run, she sent me a photo with the Washington Monument in the background with a big fat grin on her face. The next day I sent her a text after each mile I ran… 1, 2, 3… By the end, I had to call 911 for a stretcher to reenter my house.
“Dad, you have run much more than I have. I don’t understand why I this ten miles was so difficult for you. You’re falling apart.”
“I’ll tell you why… 32.”
“Yes. There is a 32 year age span between you and me! My knees are 32 years older than your knees. My hips are also 32 years older than your hips. My heart is 32 years older than yours is. That is the difference! I AM OLD!”
But there is one thing to be thankful for – thus far my nipples are fine.