I’ve been a long-distance runner since I was a kid, and I’ve been running marathons since I graduated from college, which goes back a bit (long enough that a picture of me crossing the finish line at my first New York City Marathon now looks hopelessly dated in terms of hairstyle, clothes, political message on my t-shirt, and even the sponsors on the “Finish Line” banner). Where does the time go?
At any rate, I can’t tell you how many times over the years I’ve been running a race and seen a cute kid along the sidelines with an ubercute sign that says something like “Run, Daddy, Run” or “Go Daddy!” I’ve always thought, one day, I’ll have a son or daughter watching Dad run a marathon. And for a while there, I thought that day was going to be yesterday.
But kids, as you may have heard, have a way of altering your life plans. And one of the first things to be seriously sidetracked has been my running. It started right from the beginning, in the first days after my wife and I found out we would be having a baby. We were on a pre-baby-news planned trip to Ireland, with plans to run a half marathon in Dublin. Our intended vacation of pub-visiting and distance running morphed overnight into a trip involving visits to Irish bookstores to read the baby books (we closed at least one down, that I recall) and calls back home to ask the OB if running 13 miles was a good idea or not for a pregnant woman. We ended up sleeping in that day.
My wife and I usually run a marathon in the fall, but both of us, thinking we had experienced exhaustion with the pregnancy, decided to put off our running until after the baby. And hence, my big plans for what once seemed a long way off–running the Marine Corps Marathon on October 31: hey, this is going to be the “Run, Daddy, Run” race!
When our daughter was born, I immediately (okay,not immediately, but in the beginning) thought, she’s going to be so cute in Washington with her little sign cheering me on! I’ll be her hero!
And then we found out what real sleep deprivation looks like. As the weeks pushed into months, my “training” for the marathon started to look as rough and thrown together as I looked walking the dogs in another of those wait, it’s morning again? stupors after yet another night of feeding and screaming and feeding and screaming and…worrying about whether the baby’s breathing and how we’re ever going to know what to do and on and on…
And so Sunday came, the Marine Corps Marathon was run, and I was not there. I hated it, but knew I was in no shape to run even a 10K. Maybe I can set my sights on a race–and “Run, Daddy, Run!” in 2011.
Or maybe the “Run, Daddy, Run” message I ought to think about is the one that says, hey, quit using the kid as an excuse and get out there for a 3-mile run, fella.