“Right, come on, let’s go.”
I’ve just hobbled up the stairs after a long day at work on the hottest day of the year so far. Dad is sitting in the office looking cool and prepared. We’re about to go running.
But perhaps if I go back a bit… Back around 15 years. Dad was a smoker, and overweight. Not horrifying overweight, but unhealthy overweight. Our house at the time backed on to the school playing field with a gate letting out onto it. The field was about 500 metres if you ran all the way around it, and Dad couldn’t. He tried, and he kept on trying.
Fast forward to around this time last year. Dad’s not overweight and not a smoker. In fact, he’s a triathlete at (nearly) the peak of his fitness. Because those 15 years prior, he had decided to change.
Last year, I decided to change too.
Little Sis set me up in the first instance. I used to run years ago, before university had pickled my liver and introduced me to cigarettes (since abandoned). Then Granny had a(nother) stroke, and Little Sis proposed we run a half marathon to raise money for the Stroke Association. I started training… she didn’t.
Since then, I’ve run two half marathons and have set my sights on the London Marathon (I didn’t get in for 2014, but never fear, I will one day).
But here’s the thing. I run with my dad.
I love running with Dad. It means someone to talk to, someone to keep the pace and motivate you (especially after a long day and you don’t particularly want to go out). It means I can discuss running jargon without blank looks, and have a personal coach to teach me the right stretches and pacing. But it means that I can get some time with my dad.
Tuesday – the hottest day of the year so far – was running day. We left at 6pm. The road felt hot under our pounding trainers, and the skin felt hot to touch in the evening sun. The shadows were cool, the sunshine was bright, and the sky was clear blue. We run around country lanes – no pavement, no streetlights, and very few cars going past – that are overlooked by trees just beginning to blossom and green.
The smells of hot earth and blossom were divine. It makes all that running worthwhile. We don’t speak that often when we’re running, but it’s good to have the company. It’s a couple of kilometres in before I realise that running was a good idea after such a long day – time to take a breath and step away. Plus, now is the time Dad and I put the world to rights – and put it to rights we do.
At the end of the day, I don’t have to run half marathons; I don’t have to aim for the London Marathon. It meant so much to me to raise that money for the Stroke Association, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. But I don’t run because of all those things. No. I run because when we’re three kilometres in, and I can smell the hedgerows coming in to bloom, and Dad is discussing the Giro D’Italia (and I’m only half listening), and there is a kite circling overhead mewing, it’s the best feeling in the world. And I share it with my dad.