I am very similar to my dad in some ways, primarily our love for the outdoors. He was a runner as a boy, and taught me to run as a young child. He grew up at the ocean, and some of my fondest childhood memories include the ocean and learning to ride the waves. One of my favorite memories during the summer is when my dad would take some of us camping on Lake Champlain. And by us, I’m referring to my siblings. I am one of seven and he would take three or four of us. Not everyone liked the idea of filtering our drinking water, canoeing to our island, killing snakes and fishing for dinner. I on the other hand, loved it. I get that from my dad. Today I asked him to be a guest writer for my blog and here is what he wrote.
I am Maura’s Father. Maura has asked me to write about my running experiences in my life. I have been running since I was sixteen years of age. I am now 60 years old. In these forty-four years of running, I have learned many things about myself, others and God, for running is foremost an opportunity for me to think, contemplate and unclutter my mind of all the distractions. Most people see running as an aerobic activity to help you be healthier so you can live longer. I grant you those results do occur if you stay with it but that is not why I primarily run. Running affords me primarily the opportunities to be by myself to think about the day’s issues or life’s challenges. I prefer to rise every morning around 4:30 so I can run before I go to Mass and start my professional day as a school principal.
My days are very hectic for I am responsible for the academic well being of 500 students everyday as well as the professional development of our faculty and staff which support our school. Running provides me with relaxation from the stress and build up of tension that comes about from my daily activities of living and working to follow the will of God. My prayer is enhanced by this physical activity for I can focus more clearly on what I need to do everyday for Almighty God
How did I start this whole experience which for me is such an important part of my day and life? I was most fortunate to grow up across the street from the Atlantic Ocean. I could stand in my bedroom and see the sun rise every morning and look to the horizon. I could see the waves curl, crash and wash up on the beach. I could hear the gulls squawking and the resultant sounds of dropping clam shells on our roof, driveway or decks to crack them open to eat. I have found recollections of the smell of the salt drifting off the ocean and permeating my room. I could lie in my bed at night and hear the waves and fall off to sleep. Why wouldn’t I want to spend more time closer to these experiences? Where I lived we had a boardwalk built by the Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression in the 1930’s. A boardwalk is as the title suggests, boards laid horizontally about fifteen feet wide on top on the sand and parallel to the Atlantic. It is here that I began my running career as a young boy of sixteen.
I am always amazed as to why I did not begin this experience earlier in my life. At the time, running was not at all popular in America and those that ran were considered loners and misfits. I will admit to being a loner and one who enjoyed the time to myself. From those early years, I matured in my running to running seventy and eighty miles a week which included running a marathon every Saturday morning. I was young and enjoyed the freedom and relaxation that running provided. In fact, my first date with Maura’s Mother was to run five miles.
Over the years, I have decreased my weekly mileage as my responsibilities increased, varied and became more time sensitive. Today, I run twenty-five to thirty miles a week and still absolutely and positively love it. I try to run every day. The medical profession says that running every day at my age is not beneficial. For me, it is essential for I need that emotional release of relaxing as I run.