Running with Dad

When I was a child, I enjoyed watching the television program, The Golden Girls, with my grandmother. The show portrayed retirement to be active: full of fun escapades, late-night problem-solving chats over cheesecake with your best friends, and lots of laughter. Indeed, the adventures of Dorothy, Rose, Blanche, and Sophia challenged the stereotypical image of retirement as nothing more than sitting in a rocking chair and playing bingo (not that there’s anything wrong with that). But, as ground-breaking as the sitcom was, it did not go as far as portraying retirees competing in marathons and triathlons.
My dad has taken the term, “active retirement,” to a whole new level. Although he did not start running marathons until he was in his 40s, he has spent the past 30 years competing in a variety of events, including almost every Big Sur Marathon, seven Boston Marathons, multiple Pike’s Peak Marathons, as well as the Pacific Grove Triathlon and many other events. People ask me if I run like my dad. My standard response is: “I run, but not like my dad.”
When I was in my final year of law school, my dad decided to enter the Catalina Marathon, one of the hardest marathons in the world. As the California Bar Exam began to weigh on my mind, I got the idea that studying for the Bar Exam is akin to training for a marathon. I proclaimed in front of my dad and my wife that I would enter the Catalina Marathon with my dad. I figured that if I finished the marathon, I was destined to pass the Bar Exam.
My dad provided me with information on how to train for a marathon. I kept procrastinating on my training. As I sat on the couch eating peanut butter cups, my wife inquired as to when my training would commence. “Soon,” I kept responding. Although I went for runs during study breaks, I never ran long-distance. As the marathon was rapidly approaching, I had an epiphany: maybe studying for the Bar Exam had nothing to do with training for a marathon! I realized that I was not prepared to run 26.2 miles, especially through the difficult elevation of the Catalina Marathon. I opted instead for the 10K which was arduous enough!
Later that year, I passed the Bar Exam on my first try, demonstrating that running a marathon was actually not a prerequisite to getting a license to practice law.
As the years went by, my dad continued to compete in events. My wife and I often would cheer for him along the way and meet him at the finish line, but I never seriously thought about competing myself. Then one day, as I was on a very short run home from my son’s school, I realized how special it is that my dad, in his retirement is still able to be so active. I wanted to be able to experience an event together. From my Catalina experience, I decided that running a full marathon was out of the question. A half marathon seemed more achievable.
Similar to the Catalina Marathon years before, I proclaimed in front of my dad and my wife that I would compete in the Monterey Bay Half Marathon. Again, my wife asked me when I was going to start training. I did a few runs, some on my own and some with my dad. As the event approached, I had no idea whether I would be able to finish the event in time.
On the day of the race, my dad picked me up at 5:00 am and we drove to downtown Monterey. When we parked, my dad informed me that he likes to do a “warm-up run.” We ran about a mile through Monterey. I had mentally prepared myself to run 13.1 miles and now he’s telling me that it’s 14.1 miles! Nevertheless, I was up for the challenge.
The course is absolutely beautiful, running from downtown Monterey, through the tunnel, along Foam Street, Cannery Row, past the American Tin Cannery, down Lighthouse Avenue in Pacific Grove, around Lover’s Point, to the Fishwife Restaurant, and back. My dad ran at my pace and we finished in 2:52, crossing the finish line together. (He would have finished about an hour earlier if he hadn’t slowed his pace for me.)
It was truly special for both of us that a father and son at our respective ages could run a half marathon together on a beautiful course in our beloved hometown. Although I’m glad that I never have to take the Bar Exam again, I am ready to run next year’s half-marathon again as long as I have the same great company!
KRASA LAW, Inc. is located at 704-D Forest Avenue, Pacific Grove, California 93950 and Kyle may be reached at 831-920-0205.