For the past four weeks each Saturday I put up a post about a running partner that has inspired, encouraged, and motivated me throughout many runs. For the next four weeks I want to change the theme and write about specific runs that are memorable to me. Some for good reasons, while others involved more difficult circumstances…
It was the summer between my seventh and eighth grade year. Still growing in my discipline, attitude, and work ethic, my dad took me out to a nearby park called “Stratham Hill.” My dad loved running hills, and he loved inviting me to join him. On this particular day we did a series of eight grueling climbs. We started with a long, gradual climb, which probably took us a solid 5-6 minutes to reach the peak. Once we were at the peak, we found a trail that led to a shorter, but much steeper hill.
Our pattern was: one long gradual hill. Three shorter but steeper hills. Another gradual hill. Two shorter hills. Finally, one final gradual hill. In all, it was three times up the gradual hill, and five times up the steep hill.
Being competitive, we found a way to have some fun with the hills. When we approached the steep hill, I would go all the way to the bottom and my dad would go about halfway down. After I had been sprinting up the hill for about fifteen seconds, he would start to climb the hill himself. It was my goal to beat him to the top of the hill. I never did. But, the competition and the way in which he pushed me, made me stronger. Initially, it made me stronger but more than anything in created an incredible work ethic. Many times throughout high school and college I would drive back to Stratham Hill to repeat this workout.
Following our hills, we went to a nearby university and watched an afternoon soccer game. Sitting on the sideline my dad said, “You can play at this level. But you have to be dedicated and put in the work like we just did.”
This was a run that will remain with me for years to come. A run that gives you freedom to chase your dreams. A run that grows you, not just physically but mentally and emotionally. A run that inspires you to be your best and to work your hardest.
It was the ideal partnership. I was training for a marathon and was looking to better my speed. He was training for shorter distances but was looking to increase endurance. When we ran, I forced him to go further than he was accustomed. To return the favor, he pushed me to run faster than I was used to. Our desired running goals helped us to simultaneously make each other better runners.