David and I spent a lot of time together on the road . . . anywhere from five to nine or ten hours a day. People sometimes ask what we talked about while we were running. That’s assuming we talked at all. I remember the day I broke the news to David that we might not be returning to Sitka. No job, no Sitka, I said. That was not our best day!
You see, David spoke of three major themes while running: video games, high level cross country athletes, and getting back to Sitka so he could run with his high school cross country team. He had it all planned out. Not just the 2014 season. He was already looking to the years ahead, thinking about the younger runners—both boys and girls—that would take their team to the next level.
Prior to the run, David and I naively assumed that our 3,000-mile jaunt across the U.S.A. would make us stronger and faster runners. It didn’t. Running 20 miles per day, six days a week took its toll. David got to know five or six chiropractors and a few massage therapists in the final months of the run. Each was helpful, but none could reverse the effects of all the daily wear and tear on David’s body.
And speaking of naïve, when we set David up with four Internet-based classes to complete while we were on the road, we assumed that—in addition to running all those miles everyday—we would have stable Internet connections and David would have the time to get his classwork done before the fall semester. Neither turned out to be true. On occasion we’d travel up to a week with no wifi and often when we had it, it was slow and unreliable. And to be totally honest, Internet-based lectures hold David’s interest like a salmon net holds water.
At any rate, when school started a few weeks ago, David had one big, fat letter—the letter “I”—repeated four times on his report card from last semester. And that “I” does not stand for Incredible or Inspirational. It stands for Incomplete. And when it comes to school sports, the policy reads: Incompletes Shall Not Compete.
Kris and I were there when David got the news. And I have to say that David’s response then and now continues to be both Incredible and Inspirational.
David took the news in stride and figured out what he’d need to do get himself back on the team. And in the mean time, David continues to work out and ice with the team, although he does alternate workouts such as the elliptical and biking to give his body the time it needs to heal.
My father had a massive heart event in July of 2013. That event gave me the opportunity to spend the next three months with Dad, Mom, and my siblings down in Utah. Because of that, I was unable to watch David run last year when he became the 3A region champ at the age of 14.
Yesterday I had my first opportunity to attend the Sitka Cross Country Invitational and attend I did. But it was a bit hard knowing that, rather than lining up at the starting line, David would be cheering his teammates on from the side. Of course, David was both incredible and inspirational. It wasn’t about David, it was about supporting his team.
Kids learn a lot of things from their parents, but I’m humbled to write that David has taught me some incredible and inspirational lessons on our shared journey. He’s taught me to dream big and to work hard. He’s taught me to buck up and to make the best of hard stuff. He’s taught me to support the team, even when he’s not leading the pack. And he’s taught me the power of forgiveness, as he’s forgiven me more than a few times when I mess up as a dad.
Things haven’t turned out as we hoped for since our big Run. Monsanto’s still running the country and David is hardly able to run. I never thought I’d write this, but I’m glad that David is ineligible to run for now. If he weren’t, he’d be doing some serious running when his body needs some serious rest.
Life is not a sprint. It’s not a 5K, a marathon, or even a transcontinental run. Life is life long. My dad’s temporal life ended a year ago today. He thought our plans to run across the USA were crazy. He’s right, of course. Crazy or not, I’d like to believe he enjoyed watching the show from up above. No doubt, he would have agreed with me: David is one incredible and inspirational young man.
I look forward to running with Dad sometime in the distant future, but for now I’m cherishing each moment with Kris and our kids (furry and otherwise). And I’m feeling so blessed to share this moment and this journey with such an incredible and inspirational family.