I tried to train for a marathon in 2007 and failed miserably. I struggled through 2 half marathons in the process, but never really run much longer than 13 miles successfully before the big 26.2. I probably would have canceled it except that my Dad and brother were both coming to Nashville to cheer me on. I’m so glad I did it for that reason because – even though it killed me with so little training – having that one more memory in my arsenal is a blessing now that Dad is gone.
Dad was armed with peanut butter crackers at mile 8 which turned out to be the most amazing food ever. I was suddenly starving to death and I remember sitting there and eating those crackers with him and thinking this must be what heaven tastes like. I ran/walked the thing, barely finishing in under 8 hours, but Dad kept E on his toes as they ran around different parts of Nashville trying to find me hobbling around. It was kinda awesome an made that VERY miserable day quite a lot of fun.
He thought I was crazy, just as crazy as he thought my brother was for doing an Ironman Distance triathlon two years before. And he still did the same thing, but traveled much further, to support him in his endeavor.
Every big race I’ve run since he died, I’ve done with him in my heart. Because I know he would have done everything he could to be there at each one of them. Thinking I was crazy, but supporting me nonetheless. And if he couldn’t be there, he would be watching for my reports online, or waited for my phone call to tell him how much it sucked.
This race on Sunday is not that big of a milestone, I’ve run a few marathons and races even longer distances now. But this race? Is in Chattanooga, one of the cities my Dad frequented the most in his life on his journey between his home in Knoxville and my home in Huntsville. It also finishes crossing the Walnut Street bridge which he took a chance to walk across every opportunity he got. The marathon crosses 6 other bridges, which also would have appealed to the bridge-lover in him.
In other words? Dad would have been VERY excited about Sunday’s race.
So I’ll start that race with him in my heart, imagining him on every bridge cheering me along. He would have been at the finish line (after walking across the bridge himself first) taking pictures of me as I completed the 26.2 miles. He would have had peanut butter crackers. He would NOT have allowed me to wear my medal to dinner, however. Because he didn’t let me do that after my run/walk marathon in 2007. He said, “Kim…people can tell what you did today by the way you’re walking. No need to wear the medal.”