I signed up for the 7 Bridges Marathon awhile back, mainly for my Dad. Chattanooga was a city he loved and Walnut Street Bridge – leading to the finish line – something he walked across dozens of times. I wanted to finish it thinking of him and how proud he’d be of my running life. When my failed pregnancy took me out of training, I decided to cancel the trip. I knew I could finish it, but I wanted to finish strong, with the memory of my Dad pushing me to the finish.
I’m not going now, but all of my running friends are. And it’s funny, I kinda wish he were around for them too.
I know one of my Dad’s fears was that my brother and I would struggle socially as he sometimes did. He never really found a good social peer group, probably because it’s hard raising two kids alone. But – as much as he loved some people – he was more comfortable alone. He wasn’t the type to seek out communities, but if he was invited into one he’d give it his best.
For years I let my social anxiety control most of my life. I had hardly any friends and never socialized in any way. The last two years have seen HUGE changes to my life in that arena and I wish my Dad could see it.
He would especially have loved hearing stories of my running group. Not just because I was running and staying healthy, but because I was making friends in the process. I was spending time outdoors, and running trails he would have loved to hike. I can imagine him laughing at their jokes and joining us for the periodic 5K. I know – beyond a shadow of a doubt – that he would have come to Chattanooga to see us run and he would have clapped for my friends and taken their picture and written their names down in his pocket notebook so he wouldn’t forget them later.
I’m part of a community that would have made my Dad proud, and I know he would be proud of them this Sunday just like I am.
So, they go without me this weekend. I hope they’ll have so much fun they’ll want to join me next year. But either way – I’m so very proud of them. I’m proud of the motivation and inspiration they provide me and the support they surround me with. I wish I could be there to cheer them on. But, equally, I wish my Dad could be there too. He’d have loved all of them, the ones running the race and the ones waiting with me back home. He’d love the comfort they give me and the adventures we share together. I would have called him after every long run and told him the inside jokes and about the group aches from training.
I hold them in my heart this weekend, and I wish them nothing but safety, strength and success. And I think of my Dad and how he would have thought me so lucky to have such a cool group to run with.
Good luck, guys. I’ll be with you in spirit at the Finish Line.