There are two green letters sewn into the right side of my Nike running hat — MB.
These two letters ran dozens of road races with me. They taught me to sprint at the finish. They taught me how to laugh and drive a car and make the best chocolate chip pancakes.
These two letters are my dad’s initials. He’s the reason I’m running my first marathon this fall.
Before he passed away five years ago, my dad was an avid runner. He had a running group in my New Hampshire hometown, and he ran countless miles throughout my childhood.
Sometimes we’d run together, and he always told me to finish strong. This meant sprinting the last half mile even if I felt I didn’t have much more to give.
That’s how my dad lived his life. He ran his first marathon in Philadelphia, and I’ll never forget how he could barely walk after the race. Even through the pain, he had the biggest smile on his face — something that rarely left him.
No matter what he was going through, he always had that smile. If you asked him what the best part of his life was, he’d say “right now,” because that’s the part he was in.
I want to carry on his legacy. I want to run 26.2 miles and smile at the finish. I want to share this experience with my dad, even if he’s not around to see it.
I have four months until race day. I’m running the Fort Myers Marathon on November 4, 2018. As I transition into training, I marvel at the transformation about to take place. Today, running five miles was painful and almost impossible. Four months from now, I’ll be able to run more than four times that distance.
It’s a very humbling process, and I have so much to learn.
And I know my dad will be there with me, encouraging me to enjoy the process every step of the way.