Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Happy Birthday Dad!

Today we celebrate the birth of mi padre!

That’s right, the good old daddy-o is one year more mature (his words, not mine), maybe (?) a few seconds-per-mile slower, but still running races, setting goals, and going for post-run pancakes like the champ he is (and he has raised me to be).

In my own old age, I have learned that I have learned a number of great things from my dad, mostly running related, but also life-related. So in honor of his awesomeness…

Things I have learned from my dad:

Win races, not workouts. A couple weeks into my freshman cross country season, my dad stopped by the track to watch us workout (totally normal for running nerds...). He saw me (and everyone else) sprinting at the end of each repeat like the silly 14-year-old I was, and afterwards sat me down: Don’t sprint at the end, don’t race your teammates. It really doesn’t matter who wins the interval – just run steady, even, at your own pace. Save the racing for meets! And then on race day, you race. Wise words, for serious!

He started the Greater San Francisco Track Club in 1979. (Bottom left)

Popcorn is the best snack in the world. Ask SpeedyKate, or any of my co-workers, I eat it every day. Homemade (none of that chemically bagged ickiness). Whole grain. Salty. Delicious.

No complaining, no excuses, no shortcuts. He and I totally agree on this. If you want to run faster, go out and do your workouts. And he KNOWS what hard work is  – the man has done 25 marathons, 13 of which were sub-2:30. That’s fast. That’s averaging under 5:30 minutes per mile pace for 26.2 miles kind of fast! His PR? 2:24:28. Again, that's fast.

How to fish. It has recently come to my attention that not everyone knows how to fish. And I’m sorry what??? I just assumed this was a major part of everyone else’s childhood, like riding a bike. Apparently it’s not. (A recent conversation – Me: I want to go fishing in Cambodia! Andy: Umm ok maybe. Do you even know how to fish? Me: OF COURSE I DO WELL DUH.) So, in order from easiest to most difficult, I have been: unknown fish fishing from the Petaluma River pier, trout fishing in the lakes at Mt. Tam, mackinaw fishing from a boat in Lake Tahoe, and striped bass fishing in Marin Creek.

Chocolate cake and oatmeal cookies can solve all the world's problems. As much as he loves his health food and Power Bars, my dad cannot resist certain desserts.

Shoes and insoles are IMPORTANT. From a blog I wrote a while back:
  • To some people (i.e. my dad), running shoes are a religion. He orders boxes of shoes, testing them out, taking them for a run, seeing what he likes. Something hurts? New shoes. Feeling sore? New shoes. Tired? New shoes.
  • And then there’s the insoles. I’ve always had orthodics, because I have example-on-the-training-room-wall weird feet. My dad loves insoles just as much as he loves shoes. Some people’s fathers tinker with tools in the garage – mine creates Frankenstein-like insoles on the back porch. 
  • He cuts them up, super-glues them back together, and makes his own orthodics. Heel lifts, extra arch support, whatever you need can probably be solved with the proper adhesive and an assortment of extra insoles (leftover from all the shoes, obviously!). You’d think that an alternative insole was the answer to the world’s problems…who knows? Maybe it is. We all need a little extra support now and then.
Mustache, white shorts, on the right. I KNOW RIGHT???
Experiment! He taught high school science for 30(ish) years, which has taught me to question, come up with ways to test, then experiment and review what you've learned. This applies to everything, not just things that involve lab coats and Bunsen burners.

Run on soft surfaces whenever possible. My family has no problem whatsoever driving (up to an hour sometimes) to go running on trails. And until recently I never thought of trail running as a separate activity from regular running. It's just running but better and better for you. This no-concrete/asphault philosophy has been so ingrained in me that even when I'm running in DC, I always try to run as much as possible on the dirt/grass/trail on the edge of the sidewalk or road.

One of the best things about running is breakfast afterwards. When I was little, I distinctly remember going to cross country races in Golden Gate Park when my parents and/or their teammates were racing, being baby-sat by one of my dad’s students or a running friend, getting completely soaked by the foggy-wet grass, then everyone going out to breakfast afterwards. And now when I go home the first question is where are we running? And the second is where are we getting breakfast afterwards?

And finally: Work hard, play hard. He loves saying this. And as cheesy as it is, I agree!

Happy Birthday Dad!!!

[Thanks to adults on Facebook, I now I have quite the collection of old pictures that are HILARIOUS (though maybe only to me?).]