This past Sunday, I had the honor and privilege to run my 4th Half Marathon with My Dad. My Dad started running last year on Fathers Day when I asked him to run a 5K with me. We finished that 5k in a little under 40 minutes. Now, my Dad is running sub 29 minute 5k’s like it’s his job. 🙂 You give this man a challenge, he stares it in the face and kicks it in the balls. He’s run countless 5ks, a 10 miler, but said he’d never run a half. Until I mentioned the King Crab Challenge. He seemed excited. “I’m in”. Of course, I’m giddy like a freaking school girl!! My Dad’s going to run with me!!!! OMG!!!! Training starts, he keeps me posted with texts and pictures, he ROCKS his 10 mile race, and send me a message about a 12 mile training run and he also BEASTS!!! Then, I get a message that breaks my heart. My Dad hurt himself… “we’re going to have to run/walk the Frederick Half”. Of course, I don’t care… all I want to do is be with my Dad, but I know he’s disappointed. I told him straight up. “This race isn’t about pace… it’s about you and me crossing the finish line, together.” I drove up to Frederick from Baltimore and coincidently met my Dad at the Expo! He was coming in from another part of Maryland. (A good sign I think) 🙂
We drove to his house in Hagerstown (40 minutes away – a lot cheaper than a hotel!) and settled in. Had some pre race grub at TGIFridays with my Mom, and went to bed pretty early. I of course laid out Flat Stacey before bed… I knew we’d have an EARLY morning and I didn’t want to forget anything…
We got up a little after 4am, left a bit before 5 and got to the Frederick Fair Grounds. Because of out early departure, we got ROCK STAR parking!! (so glad we left early!!!) We were ON the grounds instead of last year when it felt like I had to walk half a mile just to find the car post race!! WINNING!!
Also an early riser, Marsden (@RunningLonely on Twitter) was also there!! Finally got to meet him in person (and the infamous pig!) w00t!! My Dad was more than willing to take the “pictures or it never happened” shot for us. 🙂 He ended up kicking some serious tail on the course, setting a PR! WTG 🙂
It was a bit chilly, to be expected at 6 (something) in the morning, so my Dad and I jumped into the bag check area, where we could hide from the wind. We stretched a bit, and chatted. I think I was more nervous than he was at this point… I was nervous pacing, tried to play it off as being cold, not sure if that worked, but he’s my Dad, he didn’t prod. 😉 We took our obligatory pre race selfie and headed to the start line before the National Anthem.
They chose a recording this year for the Anthem… maybe because of the mishap with the words last year?? Maybe not. Either way, it was beautiful. Also, during the National Anthem, a BEAUTIFUL hot air balloon flew over us. I definitely didn’t expect that! Everyone start looking up, so I (obviously) did also, and I’m glad I did! Check this beauty out…
We noticed that we were next to two Army guys, full battle gear from head to toe. Cover to boots… I was really impressed. More impressive, throughout the race, they were keeping a 12:30-13:00 pace. My Dad and I passed them at one point, to which I yelled out “thank you for what you do, you guys are AWESOME!” and they waved at me. Pretty sure words weren’t happening for them. So.Much.Sweat. Seriously though, utmost respect. To run a 1/2 marathon in little clothing is difficult… to do it in what THEY had on?? That’s BAD ASS!!
Annnnnd off we went!! Slow and steady, as planned. I looked at my Garmin and we were keeping a 12:30 pace, which was actually A LOT faster then I thought we would be able to do considering my Fathers injury. We kept chugging. Talking to each other, making comments about how beautiful Frederick is. We passed the School Board office. (My father is an administrator for the Washington County School district – so stuff like that is important, lol). We passed landmarks I remembered from the race last year and I told my Dad how great he was doing. We hit the 5K mark at under 36 minutes! (Injury or not, thats not too shabby!) We passed the elementary school, and the beautiful dog park. What stuck out for me this year that didn’t happen last year, we passed a church on our left, and the two Ministers were outside blessing the runners!!! It was so amazing! They were making the sign of the cross and telling us we were doing great! Perfect for a Sunday morning!! I smiled at my Dad and told him to “Make sure Mom knows we were blessed today”, he chuckled. 🙂 Around mile 7, my Dad told me he felt a weird pain in his knee. Not a new pain, but a pain that was new for today. I immediately slowed down and ran in place as we tried to figure out what was going on. His ITBS was acting out something fierce. We thought we’d solved the first injury problem, only for another one to be thrown at us half way through a race!! OK… no problem, we’ve got this. I talked to him, we made a plan. “We’re going to finish.” Speed didn’t matter, time, didn’t matter, we were going to finish, and we were going to cross the line together. Around this point, I say this sign…
…coincidence? I think not. My dad? He is the definition of “Awesome sauce”. 🙂 We kept going, run/walk. (however, I was amped up and couldn’t walk, so I ran in place, or ran backwards constantly talking to my Dad keeping his spirits high), there was NO way I was going to let his first BIG race experience be a crappy one. NO WAY! He told me to go on ahead of him, I looked him square in the eyes and said “nope. not the point today. today is about us.” I saw a HUGE flag coming up. I remembered from last year that if was an older firetruck parked in someone’s driveway! I told my Dad and I don’t think he believed me… 😉
I was right… 🙂 Nothing inspires you more than Old Glory (apparently!) So my Dad picked up the pace a little!! He got a good quarter of a mile in before the pain was just too much and we had to slow down again. However, he was happy with the pace he kept for the 1/4 of a mile. Seeing him happy made me happy. 🙂 We kept running, talking, people watching, spending time together. we paced a BUNCH of hilarious Runtelligence race signs, some of which were so funny I had to stop I was laughing so hard. I snapped a picture of this one because my Father and I are both oenophiles. 🙂 He told me to go on ahead of him, I looked him square in the eyes and said “nope. not the point today. today is about us.”
I could tell the pain was getting close to unbearable for my Dad so, I started to tell him how much we had LEFT to go instead of how far we’d gone. We were really close actually, and I think it helped. He told me I could leave him again, yea… no. Not happening. I made a comment; “the end is near!” which afterwards made the people around me laugh. He says “That could be taken the wrong way…” 😉 “THE FINISH LINE!!! Geeze, the finish line is near!!” Eh, comedy is always good right?? 🙂 Then I saw it… The hill at mile 12.5 that kicked my ass in 2014. I also saw a sign (like an ACTUAL paper sign) that said “Eat this hill for breakfast” I told my Dad, “Dad, I’m taking this hill, I’ll wait for you at the top ok?” He nodded and I took off. I think I would have made my friends at NP Baltimore pretty proud… I ATE that hill for breakfast. I turned around and my Dad was right there… I was trucking up that hill!! Apparently, he also wanted hills for breakfast, 😉
We saw the race track… I told him, “Dad, this is it. You get on this track and you’re done ok?? The finish line is ON THIS TRACK!!” He started to run again. I got pumped so I ran too. We saw the finish line, I pointed… “Look Dad!! The finish line!! Look!!” We heard the announcer say our names “Anastasia Miles, Stephen Miles… thats a whole lot of Miles!!” Yea, I laughed. And Bam!! Just like that, my Dad is a half marathoner!! At that moment my heart swelled with pride!! His smile when he got his medal was like a kid getting a toy on christmas morning! He earned that thing!!!
While looking through the race pictures, I cried… hard. I had no idea ho much physical pain my Dad was in until I saw those picture. For him to push through that, to finish and to be smiling as much as he was through the entire ordeal makes him that much more of a hero to me. He inspires me to do great things. I can’t wait for him to get well so we can run together again!! 🙂
Thank you Frederick RUnning Festival for putting on an AMAZING event, and for helping make my Dsd’s first half an unforgettable experience. 🙂