Changed priorities ahead
As you may or may not know, my wife and I are expecting our first child in just a few weeks. As people have continued to warn me about how much my life will change when that baby arrives, I’ve realized that I need to free up some time. I’m holding out hope that I won’t have to cut back on running, as I still have a lot of fitness goals I’d like to accomplish this year and beyond.
But writing about running—well, that’s something that I spend an awful lot of time on between this blog and my other one, No Meat Athlete. Sadly, I’ve decided that Running Shorts is the one that must go, so after this post it’ll be all Megan at the helm. But fear not: Megan is one of the most dedicated runners I know. I have no doubt that as she pursues her own running goals, she’ll come across more than enough thought-provoking ideas about running to share with you as the sole contibutor to this blog.
Coincidentally, my wife’s due date is April 19th, the day of the 2010 Boston Marathon. After so many attempts at qualifying, this is the first year that I am eligible to run Boston, so I can’t pretend that I wasn’t a little dissappointed when I realized that the baby would be born so close to Patriots’ Day. But I suppose this is just Lesson #1 in how having a little one who depends on me will change my life, and I have no doubt that the day of the birth is going to be far more emotional and incredible than my first Boston Marathon will be.
But the advice I get about being a dad and being a runner isn’t all so ominous. One guy told me it brought a new sense of purpose to his running. Looking back, I can’t figure out if that meant, “You have less time to run, so you cut the junk mileage,” or if it meant, “You now have a reason to run: to become a stronger person and a better dad.” Either one seems pretty good to me.
As I’ve started to think about it more, I’m realizing what a powerful teacher and metaphor running has the potential to be. I never ran when I was a kid because I hated it: It was something you had to do in gym class or as part of training for other sports, but had no intrinsic value. It was boring and it hurt.
But that was precisely what was wrong; I missed the point that most things worth doing aren’t very easy or fun at first. When you pursue something deeply important to you, painful and boring somehow disappear, and it all starts to feel really good. Getting past painful and boring can transform your life. When my child is old enough to run with me, or as he or she watches me cross the finish line of a marathon, a fifty-mile race, or maybe even a hundred, that’s the lesson I’ll make sure he or she takes away from the experience.
My favorite piece of runner-dad insight came from a guy I met last week, over a beer after we had both finished the HAT 50K. He told me, “Being a dad is a lot like running, actually. There are moments when you wonder why you do it, when it would be so much easier just to give up and stop trying. But you get past those, and it’s so worth it. You’re so proud, you can’t imagine not being a dad (or a runner).”
Having just experienced all of that during the race, I understood exactly what he meant. If he’s right, if being a dad is anything like running 31 miles, then I have a lot to look forward to.