Running is probably the most selfish thing I do. As a husband and father of 3, every long run on the trails, every marathon on the road, takes me away from them. Yet it is also not just a part of who I am, but it is the trail that weaves through our entire family history. I hadn’t expected running to become so all-encompassing when I started training to qualify for Boston on a dare from my older sister. It was just my wife (then fiancé) at that time, so time we had plenty of. Two-a-days (or even three-a-days), Saturday races/Sunday long runs, and 120+ mile weeks were nothing.
Then one kid happens … then another, and priorities change, but still I run. My wife decides she’s tired of being overweight, so she wants to run too. Then a career change leads me back to college for nursing … and another kid … oh, and the college needs another runner for their cross country team. So even though I’m closer in age to my coach than my teammates, I run.
Goals change again. The kids grow older; two have autism; more time is needed to help them at home, so running takes place sometimes in the wee hours of the morning or late at night, but still we run. My wife’s father dies young from Alzheimer’s disease; we move twice in 3 years because home is where the Navy sends us, but still we run.
San Diego opens our eyes to new places, new trails, even longer runs. Hundos become the new marathon for me. More bumps, bruises, stitches, broken bones (and broken egos) in the first 2 years of trail running than a decade and a half on the roads, but still we run.
Our oldest starts high school, socially awkward and not knowing how to fit in. But she finds a home on the cross country team, where all are accepted regardless of your time, so long as you keep showing up … so she runs, and we all run.
My youngest wants to join daddy on his “adventures” so he starts tagging along (becoming a pacer at age 8 and a one-man professional caliber ultra crew at age 10), so we all run.
My wife finds out she has the same type of Alzheimer’s as her father … she will likely pass around the same age … in less than 10 years … many tears, many dreams altered. However, there are memories still to be made … places to see … things to do, so we will run.
Although I am certainly proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish as a runner – a 2:40 marathon, breaking the tape at another marathon, 5 consecutive Ouray 100s – the blessings that running has interwoven into the tapestry of my life and that of my family are beyond measure. Although I know the way ahead is as unpredictable as the weather in the San Juans in summer, I also know that through it all, so long as there is air in our lungs and strength in our bodies, we will run the race set before us, wherever it leads.
When I was young and focused (and stupid), I'd manage race goals down to the minutes and seconds. Even into my 40s I was still very time focused. Now pushing 50, I've shed some of my dreams of PRs and podium finishes. However, I keep coming back to the challenge my daughter's high school cross country coach gave to her - run as long as you can, for as long as you can. Age is just a number after all, so there are always new peaks to climb (both real and metaphorical). I want to go to as many places in the world as my legs will carry me. I want to meet other runners of all types and learn from and share in their experiences. Perhaps most importantly though, is making memories with my wife. She suffers from early onset Alzheimer's disease, and running has been a constant presence through our 20+ year relationship, that I want to make as many memories with her as we can.
Facebook: @Eric Makovsky