My running soulmate

So I have always been into sports and joined an athletics group when I was a small girl. I got introduced to it as my dad was a runner and in fact a running coach in the same club. My older sister had also practiced athletics when she was younger so it was a sport that came naturally to try out. In my group we tried all disciplines and I particularly enjoyed running, hurdles and high jump. It was all so much fun! I always went together with my dad in the car, I had my training session while he went to coach his running group, and then we went back home together again. It worked out well. Although. As we lived outside the main town where the club was I didn’t know any of the other children in the group. Everyone came to training together with a friend, and I came alone. Being quite shy as a little girl it was also very hard for me to make friends, I didn’t dare to just walk up to someone especially as they were all in groups of couples or more already. I liked the sport a lot, but felt I couldn’t fully enjoy as I felt lonely. One day after training I told my dad this in the car going back home. It may not seem like anything special but I will never forget the moment went my dad simply said:

– ‘Why don’t you just join My group instead then?’

I was in fact one year too young for his group and so I had never even thought about that as an option. But when it came presented to me like this I straight away knew that it would be something I would like. The fact that it would mean only running and no other athletic events didn’t matter. I am not sure if it was purely because I liked the idea to train with my dad, or if I on some level knew that running was the thing for me anyway. Regardless, it was somehow a bit of a coincidence that I ended up focusing on running, as from that day it was nothing else for me. I didn’t realise it then but me and my dad made a decision that day in the car which would affect my whole life massively. That must be why I remember this moment so fondly.

Also before joining his running group we would always do various running events and fun runs together, and this now continued for many years. Eventually I started competing in athletics and enjoyed distances such as 800m and 1500m but also loved cross country running and 5K and 10K road races. I trained at the club several evenings a week and went out for runs from home, pretty much also those were always together with my dad. I love though how he never tried to push me to do anything I didnt want. It would usually be on my initiative we went out. We trained well together and as I got older and better we began to match each other quite nicely. For some time I think we were exactly as fast as one another and interval sessions were always so much fun (and competitive!). My dad also taught me to love hills. How to approach them with the right mental state, to always embrace it and think ‘YES! A hill! I am great at hills!’ It would make it so much easier, and I often did better than many of my opponents in cross country races thanks to this approach.

Me and my dad have always had this special bond, and I believe it is a lot thanks to our Running Thing. Also since I moved out from home we have always ran together every time we meet, it is like a given. The family plans the day, we try and fit lots of things in an often quite limited time. ‘So when do we go running?’ My mum has lived with that for a long time now, and I am sure that sometimes it has been a bit of a pain that we always need to go running, but she has always been amazingly supportive of it. I am sure she knows how important it is to us both.

So when me and E started to seriously think about having a baby, I knew that something needed to be done first. As I had always been more of a middle distance runner I had never done a long distance such as a half marathon (or a full for that matter!) I had always thought I would save that to later in life. But I also knew that it would be amazing to do experience something like that with my dad. My justification for doing it before baby was because I didn’t want to wait too long for his sake. He was certainly still very fit (and still is!) but as he ‘is not getting any younger’ we both agreed it made sense to do it then. It was a perfect solution. I got to run a half with my dad – and if I enjoyed it I ‘could just do more of them after having a baby’. Little did I know.

I absolutely loved half-marathon training, and I felt that this distance was probably what I should be focusing on from then on. Even if I had loved middle distances I had never been particularly fast, and now at nearly 30 this was not something that would improve. Half-marathons here I come!

Me and my dad trained individually for the event and we kept each other updated on a regular basis on our progressions. I surely did and I think he really enjoyed it all too. He had completed a few of these and also a full marathon in the past, but it was many years ago now and I think this challenge was to his liking as well. Unfortunately though he managed to suffer a calf injury close to the race, and wasn’t fully recovered on the day. It was my turn to not wanting to push him into it, but he was determined to try and run anyway.

Mezza Maratona Dei Castelli Romani. A very beautiful and a very undulating half marathon through a few small towns outside Rome. I personally felt pretty fit on the day and I was physically ready to do a decent run. But all I wanted to do was to run together with and to finish this half marathon with my dad. The first part went really well and we enjoyed both the running and the amazing scenery around us. Until his calf played up. We had to jog, stretch, and I massaged his calf along the way at some point, and we walked short stretches. It took us a while to complete it – longer than we had planned or hoped for – but we did complete it. We crossed that finish line together, me and my dad. As I had wished, I did my first (was it my only?) half-marathon together with My running soulmate.

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