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Running with my Father

by Michael Selman

Dad has been my running idol for years. He was running before it was fashionable to be a runner. I remember once, while he was jogging in the late 60's, a cop pulled over and asked him if he was running away from someone. Dad had started running on the advice of his doctor, as a way to combat high blood pressure.

Today, I once again ran with him. He and mom are visiting from NC because my daughter is here for her spring break. (A granddaughter really knows how to tug at the heartstrings.)

My father is the one who motivated me to start running 18 years ago. I still remember the first race we ever ran together. It was the first race I ever ran. It was a July 4th race in Massapequa Park, NY, called the Firecracker 5K. It was the only race he ever beat me legitimately in. I was new to running and he was already a seasoned veteran. I remember hitting the first mile right on 8 minutes. I had never run a mile that fast in my life. Dad was still in sight then, but slowly pulled away and beat me by over a minute. I ran 25 something.

I improved quickly and was running sub 21 by the end of the year, but always jumped at the chance to run with Dad. I was more of the racer, and he was more the recreational runner. Whenever we raced together, I would pace him.

In 1984, we ran a 5 mile race together in 37:30. In 1985, after I had moved to NC, we ran a 10K through UNC campus in 47:20 on a very hilly course. I remember running a half marathon with him in the fall of 1992 in Wilmington and running 2:00:13. We had wanted to break 2 hours. The last time we raced together was 2 years ago. We did a 5K in 30:30.

Yes, he has slowed through the years, but, after all, he is now 73 years old. We have always used our running time to communicate with each other. When we're just sitting around, the conIdeal Fitnesstion can be sometimes awkward. But side by side, running together, we understand each other.

We used to talk a lot on our runs, but he doesn't hear as well as he used to, so today we just ran. The rains were still falling as we left the house, but quickly stopped within the first mile of our run. We ran, silently, side by side, for 5 miles, which we covered in a little over 55 minutes. I know that there will come a day, possibly soon, when we will not be running together any more. I just want to soak up as much of it now, while I still can.

After 5 miles of running, and really not saying a word, we were finished. As we walked up the driveway towards the house, we looked at each other, smiled warmly, and shook hands. Without saying a word, we had possibly communicated better in the past hour than we had in years.

And his doctor, were he still alive, I am certain, would be pleased with the current state of Dad's health.

' Copyright 2000 Michael Selman, Used with permission.
Michael enjoys hearing from his readers. You can reach him at The Roads Scholar.

Michael Selman is a freelance writer living in Atlanta GA. His passions are running, and writing about running, and his goal is to capture the thoughts, as well as the imagination of the common runner. His thoughts have been published in many of the top running magazines, including Runners World Footnotes and Marathon & Beyond. His column Thoughts of a Roads Scholar is well known throughout the running community.

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