Monday, October 21, 2013

Now I Get It

Once upon a time, a long time ago, I was a runner.  I use that term loosely, as it was not for the love of running that I ran.  I ran because: 1) having sports on my college applications made me look well-rounded; 2) I enjoyed the social aspect; and 3) I was not athletically equipped to do anything else.

During this time my father, who was and still is a runner, in every sense of the word (in fact I recently learned he’s been putting off a hip replacement for years because it means he’ll have to stop running) occasionally invited me to run with him.  My father always encouraged my running, and I think he knew that if I gave myself half a chance and showed a little dedication, I could be a better runner.  This is where we are different – my father never listens to that little voice inside that says “no.”  I do.  Or, rather, I did.

Although I loved that my dad asked me, I always felt self-conscious and awkward during those runs.  Self-conscious because I slowed him down.  A lot.  And also, he was serious about it.  I was not.  There was the time I tried to chew gum and it broke down into a million pieces in my mouth and we had to stop so I could "relieve" myself of the gum, trying to spit-gargle my mouth clean so I wouldn’t choke.  He inwardly shook his head in exasperation and quietly suggested it might not be a good idea to run with gum in my mouth.  He had a point.  I remember laughingly showing him how my friend and I ran backward or used our arms like windmills when it was windy, to be silly.  I truly don't believe he thought it was as hilarious as I did.  It was ridiculous. I slowed him down.  I got cramps.  Honestly, I psyched myself out so much over these runs that I think I just went to the land of “I can’t.”  Which, despite the fact that I had hotel points there, wasn’t a place he ever visited.  I was thrilled for the one-on-one with him, but I never actually got a chance to enjoy it because I was too stressed out.  Inevitably, he’d escort me home and he would take off to get a few more miles in.  Miles where he didn’t have to contend with dissolving gum issues and he could empty his head of the ridiculous image of me and my friend wind milling our arms through the streets of town.  

Or so I thought.

Thanks to this man, for the second time in my life, I am running, although this time, it’s because I actually (gasp!) enjoy it.  It clears my head and organizes my thoughts.  I have a chance to talk to myself and to God when I run.  Or just revel in total silence.  And also I’m still not athletically equipped to do anything else.

And sometimes I even run with my dad.  But I can’t talk (I have to focus on not dying), so it’s largely in silence.  It’s still a little stressful, because he’s still faster than me, but as I have gotten slower, so has he.  And I enjoy just being with him.

The other day, I decided to take advantage of the break in Richmond rain to go for a run.  Tate intercepted me on my way out and asked if he could go, which totally made my day.  And so, we set off on a 1.3 mile loop around our neighborhood.  A couple stomach cramps later, I deposited him at the house with some high-fives and a big hug and, feeling good, ran off to squeeze in another couple miles before football practice.

Alone with my thoughts, I realized I had pulled a “dad.”  And also, in that moment I realized this:

That maybe my dad was not relieved to get rid of me and do his own thing, having finished the pity run.  He just wanted to run a little farther.  And maybe just clear his head.

That he was not upset when I had a cramp, even though I suspect he knew there were times I was just pretending.

That he must be the most patient man on earth, to put up with running with me and my gum and my windmills and endless teenage girl chatter.

That he endured all these things, without complaint, because it meant just being together.

The joy I felt having run with my little man, just that time spent together, connecting…I got it.

And I realized...that was the point.

That was always the point.

1 comment:

Sundresses and Smiles said...

Love that you and Tate are now continuing the tradition.

You should write a book-- you are such a wordsmith! Reading your blog always just makes me feel happy inside!