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
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
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
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