My legs were so sore that I could not get out of bed in any case. I was away from the Country Music Marathon in Nashville for three weeks and I was really not sure if my body was up to the task. Of course, I had followed a training schedule, but on most days my muscles still felt like they were rebelling against another day of self-inflicted torture. Why did I decide to do this again?
After years of being considered chronically unathletic and uncoordinated, this would be my first full marathon.
When I grew up, I had tried every sport in the book. But I could never stay with one of them ̵
Contrary to my lack of skills on the field or on the field, my dad could always do anything he envisioned as an athlete. He ran his first full marathon in his 40s and has since completed duathlons and even ultras (including a relay race where teams travel together in a van and run all night – no joke). Like many serious runners, he always talks about how sport has changed his life – so much so that I finally decided to become a runner as well.
On this day, the carefully-planned Excel sheet was glued into my bathroom mirror set my fate: 20 miles
The big two-zero curve, the culmination of my training and supposedly that I could finish the race. If there had not been any scheduled runs with my dad every weekend, I doubt I had the willpower to drive in the tens of miles – especially after a long night in my last college semester.
Like any other weekend He met me at my door with knee-high compression socks and sporty sunglasses that made him look like he was preparing for the Tour de France. Although he was not training for a marathon at the time, I could feel how excited he was that I was working on one of my own. "Marathons are all about thinking," he kept saying, and I believed him. Convincing I could only make the mileage half the battle.
When we went to a greenway near my apartment, I felt more beaten than usual. This exercise program, the same thing Dad had got through his first race, was killing me slowly. My legs hurt. My feet hurt. My hips hurt. But if I had him with me on this flight, I could not get off. Damn .
My dad and I did not always have a simple relationship.
We were close in my childhood, but as I grew older, we went through a strained distance that sometimes felt miles away. After my parents separated, there was a period when my father and I did not talk much.
As I struggled to reconcile my confusion with my love for him, I reacted with anger and bitter resignation. I was in pain like a knot in my chest, even though I knew he wanted to help me heal. I called for clear answers, and nobody could ever do that.
I needed something to restore the connection between my father and me, something that did not bring our suffering to the full.
In those days after When I was not sure what I could say to him, I came for the half marathon I was working on back then. When our conversation is silenced and each of us is unable to express our grief, I turn to what we both knew well.
"My feet are bothering me, do you have any advice?" "What happens if I skip a few shorter runs a week?" He was always patient and always helpful, giving me tips on two-ply socks or the best foam roll I could buy online.
I'm not sure if these conversations meant the same thing to him, but they gave me a purpose when we talked, a way to overcome the disruption that had been growing in my heart for so long. I could not find any answers about the split in our family, but I could talk to him (19459003), in a way that did not result in tears and heartbreak and pain. And that was progress for us then, and that was enough.
When I run, he plays both cheerleader and coach, the perfect balance between hard love and encouragement. He taught me never to cut short in the long run, even if I have to run it. He introduced me to the dangers of trail running and laughed as I stumbled on a rock in front of strangers (a passage passage, he says – every runner has to fall at least once on her face).
He blew me away with his ability to penetrate long distances, even with sore muscles or a cold that does not go away. During our morning practice sessions, we talked for hours about history and politics, while gently reminding me to stop the rebound in my stride.
Yes, as I crossed the finish line of this marathon, I learned about my own resilience. But perhaps the greatest has shown me what it looks like to love someone. It is painful, it is unpredictable and some days are easier than others. Maybe one morning you feel stronger than ever and find that you can barely move the next one. How many things worth doing are hurts.
As a runner, it is imperative to familiarize yourself with your pain.
You must acknowledge the pain and accept it if it claims it has no you. Otherwise, you miss seeing all the good things that can exist in their midst: strength, resilience, humor – even joy.
Being present with pain was crucial to defining myself as a runner, and it has transferred to every aspect of my life, including my relationships. Dad and I still have things in our past that feel raw, but in this area I know I can always count on him.
Like my education, our relationship is a constant job. But one thing is for sure: in the face of direct pain, you learn how to live in your company. No matter how detailed the training plan is, we can not always predict how life will affect us. Sometimes it hurts and there is no way around it. Living with pain and joy at once is the only way to keep moving.
Sarah Ellis is a student, runner, writer and very bad dancer. She probably drinks kombucha and pretends that chocolate is a healthy food (because it does).