Saturday, June 16, 2012

Running For Dad

Tomorrow is Father's Day and this year is a little easier than previous years. Now I can look at what the day represents and smile. I look back at memorable years I had with Dad, and how he so positively influenced my life. In particular, I look back at the last 4 years of his life where we shared a home together, and I had the opportunity to get reacquainted with a great man. I think of how who I am today is very much a reflection of the lessons he taught me. And it helps that I very much look like him. Dad always called me his "carbon copy."

Dad as a young man.
This coming October will mark the 5 year anniversary of my father's passing. That means that it has been 5 years since I've been able to celebrate Father's Day with him. I miss having the impossible task of trying to find a gift for man who liked to keep things simple, insisted he had everything he needed, and thought of others well before himself. I miss fussing about to try to make the day special. But most of all, I miss my Dad.

This coming October will also be when Dad should have turned 70. We lost him at 65 years young, weeks after he officially retired from his career in microbiology. This is yet another milestone that isn't easy to recognize. Yet it's ever-present on my mind. I can't help but want to dedicate my year of running to Dad. And here's why...

It's not that Dad was a runner. He used to go on epic long walks, but not epic long runs like I do today. It's two other reasons. First, it's how we lost him. Suddenly, without warning, without a chance to express feelings, he was gone. A sudden heart attack, too much to survive. In an instant, life as I knew it changed. The cause of his heart attack is a condition that he had, and one can only assume his father also had. I never met my grandfather - he too passed away very young from a sudden heart attack. It was a wake-up call that perhaps I needed to take being heart healthy a little more seriously. It took a year of healing after losing Dad to come to this realization. I was seriously overweight. I had high cholesterol. I was completely out of shape. But since then I've not turned back.

Dad and me on my 25th birthday.
And second, it's that I have always wanted to live a life that Dad would be proud of. He used to shower me with praise, tell me what he loved about me, what he valued in me, and the things I had accomplished that he was proud of.  I figured that getting heart healthy for Dad would be a way to honour him and give him another reason to smile down from heaven on me with pride. I think it's working.

So I've told the story before, but I've been shy to be completely transparent and make things so personal previously on my blog. But really, I owe a lot to Dad for the runner that I am and the woman that I am today. He taught me to set my goals high and not sell myself short. He helped me believe that no dream I had was ever too big to reach. So here I am today, half my previous weight and size, an accomplished athlete, a marathoner, with a meaningful life, and with more self-confidence than I've ever had before. 

This year I'm running for Dad. Tomorrow is Father's Day and the following week, I am running the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon. It's a week "late", but it's a run I'm doing for Dad to show him how fast I've become. I'm running this race with something to prove.

And October 6th this year would have been Dad's 70th birthday. So the day after, I'll be running again, for him. It'll be one day late, but it will be very much for him. I'll be running the Victoria Marathon. I want to show him how strong I've become physically, emotionally, and mentally, and how I've learned from my previous successes and struggles and I'm not afraid to tackle a huge challenge (i.e, the full 42.2km distance) a second time.

So if you want to know why I train alone, why I usually run alone, and why I usually race alone too....It's because in my heart, I am not alone at all on these runs. I carry someone dear to me on my heart. He paces me, he challenges me, he cheers me on, and he smiles when I achieve what I set out to do.

Happy Father's Day Dad!


  1. Absolutely beautiful, Z!
    Of course there are many others of us who find you inspiring and who want to shower you with praise, but dedicating these two runs to your Dad is such a positive way to honor him. I didn't even know him, but I feel like he'd be loving it :)

    See ya next Sunday!

  2. Thanks Jess! Look forward to seeing you next week too!