Unfortunately, what ‘gave’ was my father’s health. In early January, my dad called to let me know that his cancer had spread and taken a firm hold in several areas of his body. His prognosis had gone from positive, to tentative to grave in just a few short months. His once constant optimism had become more transparent and for the first time in the few years he was battling cancer, he was beginning to look sick. I decided that I would start to run to lift my father’s spirits. The old man was an avid runner and had run the New York, the Boston and many other marathons. It’s a bond he and my sister shared. I thought he would like to see me run a little and maybe shed a few pounds.
Starting to run when your body has been fairly dormant is zero fun. I doubted my decision early in virtually every run; the conversation went something like this…
Good Chris: “You’ve got this, buddy. Just keep pushing! It’ll get easier!”
Other Chris: “Don’t listen to that guy. Let’s get outta here. I think there’s a bar in this gym.”
Admittedly, ‘Other Chris’ won more often than I’d like to admit. He’s quite the salesman. Being a father of three young girls, trudging through work hours of a job with little satisfaction and my father’s failing health made walking away pretty easy. I’d like to say that there was an encouraging phone call from my dad that turned the whole thing around. The phone call we received was much worse. By March, we were burying my father.
So that brings me to my training run. It was supposed to be a twenty two mile run but it was abbreviated to a slow eleven. Something in my back was bothering me and it made it hard to breathe. I stopped running, not because “Other Chris” told me to, but because my body did. It was the right thing to do. Don’t get hurt and postpone the training run by a few days. It’s optimistic. Sure, I still worry about the marathon, but not in that “I hope they aren’t taking me away in an ambulance” kind of way. It’s more of the desire to run it in a time that I can enjoy and without aggravating any injuries.
So the base question is “Why do you run if it's so hard?” The answer is too long to list. There are the easy things, it gave me back a wardrobe that I had considered dead and made it possible to ride bikes/swim/run/coach my little girls without wondering if I can handle it. Running has given my things to do and people to do it with. I will be running my third Wild West Relay this year. I have made friends and come to a better appreciation of my wife, sister and others. It has been an example to my children of what a healthy lifestyle looks like. It helped me cope with my dad’s passing and gave me something to help my sister and I bond during a rough time. But the biggest thing is the guy in the mirror. I didn’t always like him. He was someone who gave up rather than swim upstream. I hadn’t seen that guy in a while. The guy in the mirror now smiles easier and sleeps better. “Other Chris” has officially kicked rocks and “Good Chris” seems here to stay, all thanks to running. That's the lesson girls. It's hard, but completely worth it, almost always. Most things worthwhile in life are hard, and completely worth it, almost always.