Sunday, June 15, 2014

A RUNNING DAD FOR THE AGES

When I wrote my book, "Running Shorts: A Collection of Stories and Advice for Anyone Who Has Ever Laced Up a Pair of Running Shoes," www.runningshortsbook.com, to whom it was dedicated became a no-brainer.

I dedicated it to my dad.

A World War II veteran, member of the Greatest Generation, he was a devoted husband to my mother for 61 years, and he was a terrific father.

He did some amateur boxing in his days, growing up in the hard coal region of Pennsylvania, and I believe it was that spirit of individual competition that enamored him to my running career.

My dad would attend as many of my races as he could when I was in my 20s and early 30s, and the stories, some which I write about in the book, are classic. For those of us who beam with pride at the accomplishments of our children, my dad was a role model.

The Prevention Marathon of 1978 was run in early March, on rural windswept roads of Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, north of Allentown. A late-winter snowstorm had struck the day before the race, leaving a slick glazing of white on the running surface. Temperatures were in the 30s, and times would be slow.

As I struggled through the race, finishing in third place, I was astounded by the rousing ovation I received from the sparse crowd as I crossed the finish line.

During the race, my dad told as many people as would listen, about his son, braving the elements in a 26.2 mile endurance race, despite having a "heart murmur." The spectators, possibly expecting a collapse as I broke the tape, both cheered and breathed a sigh of relief when I remained vertical.

Indeed, I DID suffer from a heart murmur...when I was three years old!!!

I had long since outgrown the defect, a fact my dad neglected to inform his fellow spectators.

My dad passed in 2007, but few days go by without me thinking about him, his quick wit, and the pride he had for his sons and his grandchildren.

Happy Father's Day to all.