Over the years, I've run with friends, co-workers, and one or two family members. I've developed some of my closest relationships while logging miles. There are still one or two friends I'd like to spend some time with on the jogging trails. For now, I'll patiently keep working on them to go for a run with me. I might have to be humiliated in a golf game or two to coax a few of them into joining me.
For some reason, running creates a special bond for me with my running partners. I'm not saying that it has the same depth of meaning for my fellow joggers as it does for me. I'm just saying it brings someone one step closer into Lance's inner circle...which aint no easy feat.
Imagine my thrill last year when my two daughters (ages 10 and 12 at the time) told me that they wanted to run with me. In fact, they told me that they wanted some pointers along the way because they were required to complete a 1 mile run for their physical education classes and were having some difficulties. In my mind this was the perfect bonding opportunity between a father and his two daughters. I picked the perfect 1 mile track near our home. All we had to do is complete one lap and then slug down G2 afterwards. Less than 1 minute into the run, they both decided that it was too hot, they were too tired and that they'd take their chances trying to complete their 1 mile event without my coaching.
A few months later, I was training for the Rock and Roll half marathon with a good friend and asked my daughters to join us on their bikes for our 11 mile run to carry water for us. In my mind, this was going to be another great bonding experience as they supported us in preparation for a sporting event that was important to me. Once again, 15 minutes into the run the complaining about the heat, duration, distance etc. became more than I had bargained for. I would have rather dehydrated and been eaten by vultures than endure one more whine about my audacity for asking them to join us.
This last spring, I was pretty excited when my oldest daughter told me that she was going to run on the 7th grade track team. I delighted in thinking she would follow in my running footsteps. As a normal Father, I envisioned us running together for the next several years through her high school graduation until she received her full ride to Princeton on a cross country scholarship. Of course this would be followed up by back to back gold medals in the 2016 and 2020 Olympics whereby she would humbly acknowledge that her success was all based on having me as her coach for the past 9 years. This would all culminate in a lucrative speaking tour which, you guessed it; her Father was also her chief script writer, speaking coach and agent. As a part of her speech, she would fondly recall that after reading my blog in 2011 about my preparation for my first marathon, it became her constant inspiration for future success.
At least I don't have far-fetched and unrealistic dreams.
A few weeks ago I asked my eldest daughter to join me on my 9 mile run. This time, I just wanted her to keep me company. I wasn't asking her to be my water mule. She agreed but when Sunday morning rolled around, she feigned being asleep. I went with a neighborhood friend instead who actually did carry water and G2 for me.
This past weekend, I gave it another shot. I asked her to join me on my 12 mile run. This time she said, "Make sure you wake me up for this one. Don't let me sleep in." I was skeptical that she would leave the air conditioned comfort of her bedroom for the heat and humidity of the cinder path at 7:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning. This time, she was a trooper. And yes, once again...it was a fabulous bonding experience between my running partner and me.