Today was a day that a significant goal was proclaimed, started a year ago, was put to motion, and finished. All good, all done as I type this! For my daughter Christina, today was her day. I’ll argue in my own perspective it was in fact partly mine. Yep, my prerogative if you’ll stay with me on this.
My daughter started a journey of taking control of her health, weight and choosing the path to a better well being. This would be taken head on on a few fronts with a healthy diet, exercise and plenty of it. Over the years she has been a spectator to many of my events watching me finish. This would include a half ironman finish, a bunch marathons, including Boston, and the numerous weekend events I participated in. So it can be said I lead by example. Christina mentioned that she would like to walk the Dallas Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon. Without hesitation I would fly down from New York and walk it with her. This is no small affair as she had been plagued with knee problems as a young woman, including several surgeries. In her preparation for this goal, in a years time she has literally shed 60+ pounds. A monumentally accomplishment. For those of my followers that had gone through such transformations they most certainly understand what a big deal this is, a testament to pure guts and determination. As her father I am most proud of her taking this on, and making it happen. As a mother of three children (otherwise known as my grandchildren) the positive and tangible benefits of a fit and healthy woman are of course obvious, and to the result of a much more positive and improved lifestyle. Not easy with three children at home.
I flew in a few days before race day to settle in, and do the usual race event prep that is customary and expected. Since this is a large event, the race expo is a happening all of its own. We would take the kids and make an afternoon of picking up our packets and checking out all the vendors. For myself covering 13.1 miles is no longer daunting, something I have done many times since the early 90’s. Although I walk some, especially during hunting seasons, my efforts at covering significant distance is by various paces of running. Not that I was concerned about finishing it, however I am sure my walking gait and efficiency is not optimal. At some point It would at least take on the feel of more work than a leisurely stroll in the woods. My goal here was to accompany Christina’s first attempt at this distance and to help her in any way I can to make it happen. She would do all the work, and I needed to be available as the old wise one, and head cheerleader. One thing for sure, I would have plenty of years of experience to call upon for mistakes not to repeat (I know most of them, and of course by doing most of them personally myself), tips and tricks to help the time pass, and to mitigate the various problems that creep up while covering the miles of a distance event.
We got to the event start with ease, and the wait for the start in all reality didn’t seem all that long. It was a cool 53 degrees at the start, and would be a comfortable ride all the way. We had a good position in the staggered corral staging, and got into a comfortable 16:48 /mile pace which was ideal for walking. My first gems of well learned wisdom was to not surge out with the hordes of runners and just get dialed into a pace we wanted to do. We did. The miles clicked off easily,and we would jog the downhill sections and a few of the flats in order to bank free time against the four hour time limit. Each mile we would bank another 70-90 seconds against the clock. I found it funny as they had “selfie” stations to take pictures with props, cowboy rope handlers, and such. Mentally all the distractions and eye candy, coupled with making good decisions would prove useful when the last two miles got harder.
The police and the event staff and especially the volunteers were above and beyond friendly and professional. No complaints as it was well orchestrated and ran well. There was water, Gatorade, and gels when we really needed those, and given the cool temps, all that was needed. We maintained pace up to mile 10, and it would be were the pace began to slow. We were in territory that was beyond distance that she had ever conquered, and she earned ever bit of her finish the last two miles. I knew when she was gritting it out as the conversation became less, and I could see she was doing whatever she had to to keep it moving forward. I was a little sore at that point as I don’t normally walk that distance, but otherwise felt fine. It was at that point my words of encouragement would take a back seat to her determination to claim her first attempt as a finisher.
The down hill finished was a welcomed reprieve! Christina decided she would run that last 150 yards to the finish. We would run it in together and step on the timing mat in sync. The goal was accomplished, and with a little bit of style. Christina became a little overwhelmed at the moment of truth, something I truly understand, and suspect many of you do as well while achieving a big goal. Post race food goodies hit the spot, and concluded a great event.
Truly it was Christina’s day, and almost as much mine as her father. This is our “thing” we did together, and something I’ll cherish for years to come. I am one proud father today, and yes it most certainly my prerogative :)