“Zero Interest. Not on my bucket list. Not sure what possessed me to agree to it.” A colleague at work convinced her to sign up for the SHAPE Women’s Half Marathon in Central Park at the end of the month.
“Rachel, you aren’t a runner. You’ve never run. Do you realize how far that is?”
“Dad, I can always count on you for encouragement. You’re always right there for me.”
So, I watch. Fully expecting her to pull the rip cord and bail.
She’s following the recommended training regimen for newbies. I follow from the shadows as her notifications ping my smart watch, signaling completion of her treadmill runs, her outdoor runs, her elliptical sessions. Her pace: consistently sub 9-minute miles.
“Dad, want to join me on a 10-mile run on Friday?” Never one to walk away from a taunt, I pause, 30+ year age difference, not having run 10 in how long? don’t remember…
7:00 am, Good Friday, we’re off.
Mile 0.25: She scoots out front. Color coordinated running top and bottom. Fancy “air-cooled” running shoes. Hair in a tight bun. I note the clearance between the ground and her foot lift is inches. Efficient. This pace, no how, no way, is sustainable, for me. 9.75 miles to go.
Mile 3.72: Runner approaches with female Vizsla on leash. Rachel turns back, points and smiles. Our Zeke has been gone for six months now. Legs heavy, Soul heavier. I pick up the pace on the flats and close the gap, Zeke’s gone but she’s here, thankfully she’s here.
Mile 4.21: “Dad, look, Bunny!” I smile, and then back to grimacing. Stomach cramps, pork, pasta and cabbage from dinner last night. On the shoulder, I spot an unopened, 1 oz plastic cap with thick orange duck sauce, which triggers nausea, a belch, and acidic discharge into the mouth. I spit, grab water bottle to rinse, and wipe the mess off the front of me. Jesus, I’m coming apart. 5.8 miles to go.
Mile 6.34: I fast forward a few tunes and land on Cat Stevens and Cats in the Cradle. “A child arrived just the other day.
He She came to the world in the usual way. And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon…” Could this be the last time I run with her? My last time running a 10 miler? I need to find some AC-DC or Metallica, these tunes are killing me.
Mile 7.1: She widens the gap, I’m breathing heavily, struggling to close in. I catch her, draft in her wake. Her gait is steady, her foot clearance steady and inches, her hair bobs up and down. Perhaps this hypnotizes me, I might have a prayer in finishing.
Mile 8.0: Cemetery on left. Feeling about the same as my neighbors here.
Mile 8.5: She’s widened the gap to 500′. She doesn’t look back, she doesn’t wait for Dad to catch up, she accelerates, eye on the finish.
Pride surges, tears well up. That’s right Honey, when you have them by the throat… That’s MY girl…
A child arrived the other day
He’d She’d grown up just like me
boy girl was just like me
Time Check: 10.04 miles. 16,822 steps.
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