“The end of an era,” my 49-year-old daughter said with a smile, turning her head to address me as she approached from behind. We were on top of a hill less than halfway through a snowy Horsetooth Half Marathon in April. “I’m sticking with you until the finish,” she announced.
I didn’t say anything. That was because I couldn’t. I was busy breathing.
We ran side-by-side for a while. I’m concentrating hard on just maintaining my fairly pathetic pace. My feelings are mixed. It’s high-time my youngest kid beat me in a half-marathon. She outraced me once in a 5k, then promptly threw up at the finish line and vowed never to do that again. So here she is, at it again.
I want her to beat me. I really do. At least most of me does. I’m okay with ending an era. Every era must end, right? But I’m not giving up on this one for free. She’s gonna have to earn it fair and square.
There are several grandsons who have not considered me any sort of competition for several years now, as well they should not. Granddaughters? They’re working on it.
My oldest daughter has it figured out. She runs regularly and well. She savored the New York Marathon last November and has another planned in Oregon this fall. She’s a true lover of the sport and I honestly believe she does not have a competitive bone in her body when it comes to running. For her, the pleasure is in the journey, in the tight relationship she has with her best running buddy, and in the way running makes her feel and look and approach life.
After a while, the snow didn’t stop but, small blessing, it quit blasting us in the face. And it wasn’t freezing cold. My kid, in her motheaten, brown, recycled cashmere sweater and no gloves, seemed more than elated with what she was doing. After another plodding mile or so, she disappeared from view.
The first two miles of HTH are such an uphill grind that exhaustion sets in early. The later and somewhat less intimidating hills provide diversion, but the last few flat miles on the bike path into the finish at New Belgian Brewery, seem to go on forever and have always been the toughest part of the run for me. There are no obstacles to divert one’s attention from the fact that 13 miles is a long way to run and getting longer with every year for me. And so I plodded on, more a mind game than a leg game at this point.
I didn’t see her at the finish line. I knew she had a plane to catch and would dash for home the minute the race was over. Soggy and cold, I hung at the finish, searching for friends and wondering where my daughter was.
I didn’t hang for long. She was hard to miss in that stylish outfit and only three minutes behind me. Fast enough for third in her age group. The good news is, by the time you read this she’ll be 50 and have aged up.
Running is the sport where you love to get older.