A Journey With My Son

Grandmas Marathon box
A marathon isn’t an event; it’s a journey. Runners who have trained for one of these grueling events know what I mean. You sign up for a race, then spend several months preparing for it. You spend many hours training while at the same time holding a job, spending time with your spouse, raising your children, not to mention dealing with all the other things life throws your way. This will be my eleventh marathon and no two journeys have been the same. Each and every one has been different and all have changed me in some positive way.

The Grand Forks running community is fantastic and I’ve made some lifelong friends over the last seven years. They are great people who’ve shared many a mile with me in the past, and will hopefully spend many more with me in the future. Training for the 2016 Grandma’s Marathon has been quite different though, because during this training cycle I haven’t logged many miles with my usual running buddies, but have instead spent long hours running besides my son Carl.

Carl had been showing some interest in running, and we had run together on several occasions before Carl announced in December that he wanted to try his first marathon. We signed up together for Grandma’s which is held on June 18th this year and officially kicked off our 24 week marathon training journey on January 4th. We’ve enjoyed a little friendly competition, but mostly we’ve been encouraging each other along as we complete the same workouts day in and day out. We’ve done most of our workouts by ourselves, but many of the more difficult ones we’ve completed together.

The plan we’ve been following starts out relatively easy and gets progressively harder each week. Week 21 is the toughest week on the schedule and culminates with the most grueling workout of all, the 22 miler. After the peak week, the final three weeks are what we call our “taper”, with each week getting progressively easier as we rest up for Grandma’s.

Through these 21 weeks we’ve completed 760 miles. We’ve ran on treadmills, in buildings, on sidewalks, in the streets, in the snow, in the rain, in the heat, and in the wind. We’ve listened to music, talked about simple things like astrophysics as well as more complicated things like relationships with women. We’ve laughed together, encouraged each other and cursed the wind together. We’ve pounded together on greenway bathroom doors that were locked and have improvised along the way. We’ve yelled at traffic lights to stay green so we can continue as well as yelled at them to turn red so we could rest.

Through these 21 weeks I’ve seen my son change before my very eyes. Training for a marathon has made him more confident. He’s become more patient. He has learned when to hold back and when to let loose. The hours we’ve spent together have been priceless; treasures I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life!

The most remarkable thing about Carl is that even at only 20 years of age, he realizes how special these times together are. I didn’t realize this until he posted the following message today in response to our 22 mile run together. He wrote:

A long 21 week journey comes to a close with the most hyped and dreaded workout, the 22 miler. Doing 22 miles is beyond anything I could comprehend, but despite the pain it felt great. I know lots of people do long runs like this, but this one was extra special because it was with my dad. I usually finish strong on these hard workouts, but uffdah! I honestly feel like I’ve been to hell and back with my dad and don’t think I could have finished today with out him. Everything from 7:30 this morning to choice and back home after university avenue was tough. After the run I went to the shower and after reflecting in the last 21 weeks I become overwhelmed with a sense of accomplishment of something I thought was impossible not even half a year ago(also tears began running down my eyes). I know when I’m old I’m going to look back on this journey with my dad, and be very thankful I did it. I call it a journey because this is much more than training for a race. It making memories with the man I’m lucky enough to call my father. We have 3 more weeks dad, and although I don’t know my plans yet after Grandma’s, I know well give this our all because in the face of adversity you shown me to never show anything less, I love you!

I don’t think a father could be any prouder of his son than I was of mine today!
Carl 22 Miler May 2016