Monday, November 1, 2010

In His Honor

Elaine, Pidge, and Sally, my marathon support team
As I waited for the starter's gun to go off, I was fully aware that it had been a long and sad few weeks. My training had gone perfectly well. In fact, I had completed 99.5% of the 640 miles I needed to cover over the last eighteen weeks. But the anticipation and excitement I felt last year in New York were missing, and for good reason. I miss my dad.

My friend Michelle's enthusiasm and nervousness should have influenced me more. The power of the exuberant crowds and all of the "first timers" should have rubbed off on me. The perfect weather should have made me relaxed and confident. My support team, with Sally among them, was waiting for me at Mile 4, again at Mile 8, and, finally, at the finish. All of those things were good, and true, and helpful, but they couldn't make me complete. I miss my dad.

I cried in the parking lot of his last "working building," the Pentagon. I cried as we passed the park where I ran the base paths as a toddler. I cried as we ran by the place where we fed the squirrels. I cried as we went by the Department of Labor, the Air and Space Museum, the HHS building, NASA headquarters. I cried as we passed Arlington Cemetery, where he will be laid to rest soon.

For the majority of his career as a civil servant, Washington, DC, was my father's life. Yesterday, it was my honor and privilege to finish the Marine Corps Marathon on the very paths he graced with his skill, his dedication, and his energy. While I was exhausted and sad for much of the 26.2 miles, I never, ever, ever considered quitting. When I reached the finish at the foot of the Iwo Jima Memorial, I raised one hand and silently pointed to the sky.

Yes, it was a hard day. Yes, it was a sad day. But, mostly, it was a good day. I got to run with my dad one more time.

Rest in peace, Dad, and thanks for coming with me.

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