Inside the Mind of a Dad Turned Runner

Are you ready? (Not really)

Get set! (I’m still not really ready)

Go! (Like now….)

There’s who you are in life and what you do. I’m Leah and Will’s dad. When in doubt, they take priority. It’s what parents do, right?

This commitment comes with consequences. In my case, it was a lack of commitment when it came to exercise. In short, I stopped.

So when my wife asked me to run a Turkey Trot, I played the “avoid the question and hope she would forget” card. Ten days prior to the race, she informed me that we were signing up for the race, even though I hadn’t ran in months. So much for avoiding the question.

Thank goodness my ploy failed. The immediate time before, during and after the race reminded me a great deal about the realities of being a dad.

The Before:

One of these things is not like the other. My sister-in-law usually finishes second or third in her age group. My nephew can hit a baseball 350 feet and tech me about SnapChat. My wife has fashion sense.

image1

This photo made me realize I really am turning into my dad. I never had much fashion sense, but good gracious what was I thinking?

  • The jacket is from my last television job in 2007
  • The ear warmer came from the trunk of our minivan

Then there was the fake TV anchorman smile. Deep down I was horrified. I crammed like a college student during exam week in the hopes to boost my running acumen, only to realize I somehow lost it in the midst of having two kids, driving an hour-and-a-half to teach twice a week and trying to keep consulting work in check. It’s easy to let yourself go. It’s important to get yourself back.

Was I ready? (No)

Did I know how to get set? (Not particularly)

Go. (Here goes nothing)

The During:

As parents, we learn to expect the unexpected. This helped deal with the realities of a rookie runner.

I had no idea cold air could impact a human this much. Running on a treadmill at the gym is boring but predictable. I have a hot shower 100 feet away and can hop in the sauna at a moment’s notice.

Running outside made me feel like I was being stabbed in the lungs for two miles. And while the water station was nice, I felt more frozen than Olaf on the North Mountain.

That’s said, sometimes you just have to let it go. You can’t control what you can’t control. Hills suck. I couldn’t fix that problem. I could spend a mile of the race looking at people’s yards and feeling better about the mulch situation at our home. Really, I’m turning into my dad.

You’re also never alone: About 400 people participated in the race. I believe 384 may have passed me. I was floored by how many people encouraged me to keep going and how I thought of my kids being proud of their dad for doing something different. And as I felt like pure goo in the final quarter mile, this song came on my phone and made me realize a higher power had my back. Of all the songs that could pop up, this is the one. Seriously.

The After:

The first thing I looked at was the clock. I bet my nephew I could beat his time if he gave me 10 minutes. I didn’t realize he could haul through one of these in 23 or 24 minutes. I lost by 8 seconds. Eight stupid seconds. Leah and Will were convinced I had no chance and got a kick out me losing.

They also got a kick out of me trying. As parents, we just want our kids to try. Soccer. Asparagus. Sleeping without a light. If they like it, great. If not, at least they know it’s OK to try something new.

We tell our kids to try things all the time; as parents shouldn’t we live that notion? Running this race made me feel like my best wisdom comes from actions, not words. Even my teenage nephew, who hasn’t stopped mocking my jacket, hair and car, congratulated me on the effort.

I ran two days later, inside of course. I knocked four minutes off my time with the hopes of avenging my holiday loss. The only difference was I wore an Homage shirt to feel a little cooler in my skin. Am I born to run? No. Am I here to be a dad? Yes. If running and being active makes me better at that, then I guess there are some new answers to old questions.

Am I ready? (We’ll get there)

Get set! (If you say so)

Go! (OK)

By Dan Farkas, Guest Contributor