Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Running Adventures of Papa Bang

Once upon a time there was a girl named Bang who was training for her first half-marathon. She was partly inspired to take on this feat by one of her inspirations: her father, Papa Bang. At the tail end of her training, she was surprised to learn that she, in turn, had inspired him too. Since then, Papa Bang has come down with a major case of the running bug. Run, Papa Bang, run! 

When my dad first started running again back in November, he was lumbering along a 5k route at a slow jog. Now he is running twice that distance and really picking up speed! His running has been an adventure for both of us and has absolutely brought us closer together. Every week he asks me if I'll be running with my Galloway group on Saturday (99% of the time the answer is yes), then he tells me he is running with his group of one which we've dubbed his one-man wolf pack. On Saturdays he inquires about my group run and then proudly tells me how many miles he ran and how he felt while running them. It is really fun and rather adorable to see him excited about something that we share a passion for.

As he has increased his mileage I've begun to interject some words of wisdom to help him train smarter. When he complained about shin discomfort, I bought him compression leg sleeves. Once he started running farther than 5k I demanded he carry water. When he whined about carrying a bottle in his hands, I made him wear a fuel belt (this still makes me giggle). After his sale-rack running shoes wore thin, I took him for a gait analysis and professional shoe fitting. Since he's now running for an hour at a time, our latest adventure involved a lesson on hyponatremia and nutrition which resulted in him experimenting with salt tabs, shot bloks and power bars. A lot of these things weren't around 30 years ago when he was running so it's been fun to be the one teaching him for a change.

Some of the more exciting developments in recent weeks have been his inquiring about trying a run with my Galloway group (I've only invited him and been rejected five million times), our 5+ mile daddy/daughter run on Labor Day AND today we ran a local 5k!!! I've been begging him to sign up for a race since January and finally he gave in (stubborn is in our DNA). He was really adorable in the days leading up to the race, over-analyzing the race course and asking me if there would be race pacers (lol). He experienced his own mini version of taper madness, whining about how antsy he was getting and today when the race started he took off like a bat out of hell. My old man finished that race in about 25 minutes and I'm so damn proud!!

It is evident in our conversations post-race that he is bewildered by what he just accomplished. He used to be a speed demon back in his heyday but has only been running again since November (after a 30+ year hiatus). It has meant so much to me to see running ignite a passion inside him much like the one running has created within me. To think that his running of the New York City Marathon all those years ago inspired my endurance running, and ME running my first half-marathon last year inspired him to try the sport again. You never know who your actions might influence!

Until next time, stay tuned for more Running Adventures of Papa Bang!