Running 13.1 miles is not an easy feat by any means.
It takes training, which can include frustration, injuries and other set backs that could make someone give up.
Fortunately, when I decided to take on these miles for the first time this spring, I wasn’t alone. I had my dad by my side.
My dad has always been a runner. He’s run many half-marathons, a few full marathons and has done the St. Jude Run from Memphis to Peoria four times as well. One could also find him running around the Sandy Ridge neighborhood in Dyer on almost any given weekday.
I, on the other hand, did not have as much experience. Aside from one season on the Kahler Middle School Cross Country Team in sixth grade, I had not done much running besides what was required for tennis conditioning in high school and a mile here and there to keep in shape.
But, this past fall, I decided to take a leap and sign up for the 500 Festival Indianapolis Mini-Marathon after reading a Women’s Health article about a 10-week training plan for first time half-marathon runners.
After mentally psyching myself up a little, and texting my boyfriend to get reassurance I could achieve this goal, I called my dad hoping to have a running partner.
And after finding out that I was serious about it, my dad agreed to run it with me.
So, the training began.
The first few months were just a few miles a few times a week.
For Christmas, my dad helped me pick out new running shoes and some cold-weather running gear.
When I hit the 10-week training plan mark, I began to add mileage more frequently.
After every run, I would text my dad an update. He would always respond with a “Great!” or “Good job!” before asking how it felt and giving me new pointers for recovery workouts and stretching.
While I was home from college over spring break, we got to train together, which was extra motivating. He let me set the pace and ran along side giving more pointers and helping to track the miles.
Dad was also there for me when I came down with a bout of runner’s knee, and had to take a couple weeks off.
As I freaked out about not being prepared and how much my knee hurt, he was there calmly on the phone reminding me to take it easy and not to worry.
Thankfully, after a few weeks, I was back up and running.
On the chilly morning of May 4, we entered the O Coral behind thousands of runners seeded ahead of us and waited.
Excitement built as we could see the bouncing heads in front of us when the first corrals began the race.
With the same cool confidence he had throughout our training, Dad reminded me there was no pressure to get a certain time and that we were just there to finish the race and have fun.
As we ran over the start line and past the live bands scattered throughout the course, we laughed, we planned where we would eat afterward and celebrated every mile mark.
When we ran around the Brickyard, we held hands as we crossed the historical brick finish line.
Even when I had to stop to walk twice because of a stabbing side stitch, my dad was there, reassuring me it was okay and that we were almost there.
And as we ran across the finish line, my dad pulled me into a hug and high fived me in celebration that we had done it!
Throughout that experience, Dad helped me learn some important attributes all runners must have: perseverance, patience, dedication, drive and the ability to not take things so seriously and have fun.
And what fun it was! To my dad who always supports and believes in me, but especially during this accomplishment in my life, thank you. Thank you for being by my side as I crossed the finish line.