When Maura first met my dad, she joked, "you better be as fit as your dad is when you are his age." She isn't kidding.
He is a testament to the runner's axiom "you don't get old and stop running, you stop running and get old." At 64, he runs basically every day. In the blazing Central Valley heat or nippy Tahoe mornings, he is up with the sun and out on the road. He's fitter than basically any 64-year old I know, save the gray haired wonders out there running ultras.
He used to run marathons, with a PR almost 30 minutes faster than mine -- a gap I hope to close next week. He joins Maura on her training runs, bonding that cannot be measured since she has lived without a father since she was five. He and my step-mom run together, a tradition they have kept for more than 20 years.
As I have gotten back into running, it's been great to see his competitive spirit come back. He ran a half marathon without proper training (I am truly my father's son) and freaked out my step mom when he got dizzy at the end. He joked that he isn't going to try another marathon until he hits 65 -- better chance to place at the bottom of your age group.
Recently, I convinced him to sign up for a trail run in Pacifica -- not exactly the easiest course, which starts with a 1,600-foot climb to the summit of Mt. Montara. My dad isn't out there to win. He's out to mostly have a good time and finish -- a mature drive that I in some way look forward to. A return to purity.
Running has this amazing quality of being perhaps the most solitary of athletic endeavors, yet one which brings you immeasurably closer to those around you. Maura, my dad and I ran together this morning, rising in the hottest weather I've felt going up that mountain. Sure, I could have gone faster, pushed harder, but that's not why I was there. I ran for the company, to see them both do something that at the bottom didn't seem like a sure thing. And to be there to celebrate with them at the top.
And I was thrilled, a palpable sensation of just how lucky I am to not only count my brother as my training partner, who pushes me to be faster and better than I ever thought possible, but to have my wife and dad as training partners too -- perhaps reminding me that there is more to running than just the clock, or trying to win. That running truly is about the journey.