Community Lessons Learned from Running With My Dad

    Lessons Learned from Running With My Dad


    My dad and I are walking down the street last month in Buffalo, post turkey-trot. We’re exhausted, elated and chatting about the highs and lows of the race when we hear: “Wayne! Wobble Gobble Wayne!”

    It’s one of the race directors stopping us to say hi, glad to see we’re still running together. It’s hard to forget the Canadian father-daughter duo who run, dressed up as turkeys, on American Thanksgiving. 

    This race is just one of the many races my dad and I have participated in since the New York City Marathon four years ago. We ran NYC in my mom’s memory having just lost her to brain cancer. It was an incredible race, but we aren’t the best matched runners. 

    My dad is a speedy guy who would run a couple 5ks a year to see if he could win his age category (usually he did). I tend to be at the back-of-the pack, praying the water stations aren’t shut down before I hit them.

    Figuring out how to run together, despite these differences, has been trial and error. Along the way, we learned planning outfits, discussing split times and finding new races was the way we stayed connected.

    Here’s what we’ve discovered along the way:

    Respect each other’s journey. Since NYC my dad fell in love with marathons, and has qualified for, and run, Boston twice! I’m his biggest cheerleader and support his intense training. Equally, he supports the fact that I run for joy, not the intensity of Boston training.

    Races should be fun! Sometimes a fun race for us means one where we can dress alike, run together and hold hands at the finish line. Sometimes a fun race means a high five at the start line before finding our own pace groups and knowing we’ll see each other at the end.

    Running is a family affair. My dad and I are the runners in the family, but we have a support crew that includes my sister, our spouses and the grandchildren who come to races, hold signs, check running apps, cheer us on and update social media.

    Most importantly, as cliché as this may be, we’ve learned that the true joy is in the journey, not the destination.

    We’ve dealt with injuries and illness. There have been tears (mine), but even more laughter. We’ve bickered over routes, pre-race meals and the importance of hydration. We ran together during lockdowns (at a distance, of course). We’ve run in costumes and glitter, matching shirts and fluorescent outfits. We’ve made friends. We’ve done tik tok dances. And we’ve had many post-race wine and cheese celebrations.

    I never would have imagined I’d hit my stride running with my dad next to me, and now I can’t wait for 2024 to find our next starting line! 

    Instagram: @lauraldawn

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