Saturday was my dad's 63rd birthday. The picture of my mother leaving on the one-mile walk really captures the mood of the day!
That evening he updated his facebook status. It read:
How cool is it to have your best birthday at 63?
I thought it would be cool if all of his children could join him in a 5K. My dad ran a lot when he was younger, but a string of Achilles problems and life in general eventually removed him from running and his weight ballooned. In recent times he's lost about 80 pounds, is running several hours a week and is eager to run his first marathon.
As with most people that begin running, my dad has had a string of injuries from piriformis to ankle. But he's tough and determined and has patiently worked through them all. Thus, I've taken to calling him Seabiscuit. In fact, for his birthday I bought him a RoadID bracelet inscribed with "Seabiscuit Racing."
For race day my sisters thought it would be a great idea if we had matching shirts. They purchased the lovely chartreuse shirts and then decorated the backs for the occasion with #49 and Team Seabiscuit.
The race was the Boxer 5K, hosted by Vail Science Academy High School and put on by the always wonderful Steve Taggert. The morning was beautiful, race time temp in the mid 60's, quite nice for this time of the year.
We lined up for a photo, but unfortunately, my mother had already left for the 1 mile walk. The Easter Bunny sat in her place. In the photo are 5 of the 6 grandchildren, two of the three spouses, all four children and my father. He's wearing the red hat.
For the run I planned on hanging back with whomever needed company/support. My dad was going to do the same. My calf is strained from last week's 5K. While my dad runs regularly, the others are in varying stages of fitness...meaning, my dad is in better shape than all of his children, save the oldest, me.
We all "took off" and talked, joked and had a great time. We are a friendly, outgoing family, quite loquacious. We talked to different participants before the race and during, and cheered them on as they looped back.
At one point, my oldest sister said, "I'm having the best time I can remember!" Later the other siblings shared similar sentiments.
As people returned and ran in the opposite lane I cheered, gave my buddy Bill (who finished 4th, first in age group) a high-five. I loved it. And I was surprised how much I enjoyed running 12 minute miles in a 5K...but that'll have to wait for another blog.
My oldest sister was pooped and began to walk and my dad hung back with her. My other sister and baby brother decided to keep going, so I paced them. My youngest sister exercises regularly, but has exercise induced asthma, has been ill, just moved to a new town and has a new job...and hadn't worked out in a month. My brother has been trying to get into a running routine, but also has just moved to a new state (back to Arizona), has a new job, and has two young children. We talked about and had a great time, just the three of us. I can't remember spending time with us three only ever before.
As we approached the finish line I was in the middle. My sister leaned over and said, "Whatever you do, beat Nathan!" You'd have to know the family dynamics to catch the full meaning, but needless to say, somethings never change...and it cracked me up! I didn't though, I let them both cross in front of me.
After turning in my tag, I went back out to catch the rest of the team. My sister joined me. We caught my dad and sister and walked back with them. Eventually my sister-in-law, niece and nephew and brother showed up.
We cheered as a 79 year old man zoomed past us to finish.
The picture is my dad first, me second and my SIL Katie, with her son Matthew on her shoulders. Matthew has MD and, while I've not shared this with my family, on my RoadID is inscribed, "Race For Those That Can't," and it's for him. But more on that later, too.
Now what would a family outing be without two things...first, the cute thing, and second, the embarrassing thing.
1. First, cute. My nephew Matthew is stomping on ants. His little sister, Lainey, watches and studies, then copies in every detail. Typical ...
But Katie noticed that at the same time I began to stretch out my bum calf, my sister Amber watched and studied. Then she said, "Oh, that's what I should be doing now," and did exactly as I'd done.
2. It was a small race. My dad won first in his AG, but was the ONLY one in his AG. When he was called up for his prize, he took a picture with the Easter Bunny, as all winners had done. And he said, "Where's the Playboy Bunny." Of course, my mother was horrified and somehow fulfilled, as if she knew he would say just that.
I was raised with the notion that a family that eats together stays together. But I think that this run was the strongest bonding experience I've experienced with my family. I'm so happy that everybody participated and am truly touched by the whole experience.