Running with my hero

By Martha Irene Morales Villalobos (MEX)


Unconditional love, admiration, appreciation, enjoyment, gratefulness, loyalty; these are some of the feelings that my father inspires in me today and always. For me the best thing it is possible to inherit from your father is the sport of running. It is an inheritance that I thank him for with all my heart.


I feel this way because of what competition came to mean for me. I was four years old. My dad, as a runner and a marathoner, wanted to see his first daughter compete from a very young age and become involved in his club and with the entire racing organisation. He realised that I was not the fastest but I was one of  the most excited, and gave my best. 


As I grew up races became part of my life. Competitions at all distances served as moral support and I took part in them according to my age. My dad took my family and me to witness his heroic arrival at the finish line. I say heroic because for me he broke the tape as a champion every time he competed. The waving and cheering were the loudest anywhere around, making the early rising worth it, no matter what the weather.  We were always super-excited, with camera clasped in hand, to see our hero crossing the finish line: my DAD.


Ever since I was 8 years old I had known the story of Pheidípides, I confess that I cried upon hearing the ending. The story made a strong impression on me and reinforced my admiration  for my dad; only heroes run marathons. My dad continued to surprise me on weekends with marathons, half marathons, races of 5, 10 and 15km. I witnessed all kinds of events: cross country, road races, track - my dad crossed all the finish lines.


As I grew up and my dad became more and more involved in running and later organising races he took me along as a race volunteer, I learned by bagging the pins, the flyers, and helping at the finish line. First it was 10km races and half marathons but my dad's ambition was to organise a marathon.


My dream was to run a marathon together with my father and it became an obsession for both of us, I was 21 years old when I started training. I was one of only two women in the sports club and the training sessions were hilarious. My dad was the life and soul of the team, he kept telling jokes, annoying colleagues and always keeping an eye on me. He was always careful not to leave me behind. We trained on the roads, in the park, in the hills - everything was an adventure for me. A challenge too: there were moments when I cried because I thought I couldn't do it. The distances were torture for me, I never liked waking up early but I really thought it would be worth it if I could get that smile and feeling of victory that I had seen in my dad so many times.


Party invitations rained down on me but my dad warned me that I would pay the price. I was already a runner and I knew perfectly well what that price might be: the heavy disappointment of not finishing a marathon. I did not not lose heart in the challenge.  The workouts passed and the day cam. My dad chose our kit: those shorts that were 'of the time' and a sleeveless shirt with the club logo. We began, the kilometres passed and the adrenaline kept me going.  I was scared to death but my dad as always was immersed in talk about the city: admiring it, giving me advice on how to drink water, reassuring me that everything was fine.


We passed 21km and I began to lose focus. He encouraged me with his story that as soon as the time came for counting the kilometres with our hands we were already on the other side;  I cried, I got angry, I laughed, There came a moment when there was nothing in my mind but the sound of my feet and his breathing. My hero was by my side with me. I had an image where he visualised us from the sky and the first thought that came to my mind was how I adore him, how I admire him, I can't imagine my life without him, and I saw him running so light with his smile and I thought: we have to finish together. "Whoever we run with, we have to finish together” is one of his mottos so I pressed on, leaving behind my tiredness and concentrated on my thoughts. We reached the finish and we gave each other an endless hug, I felt as if my heart had stopped and could feel his tears on my face as he told me he had fulfilled his dream to run with me. I can't remember when I got my medal, I only remember that I didn't stop crying. I had run my first marathon with my hero, my dad;  I know that I will always remember that endless hug, those tears on my face and us hand in hand walking together to our destination.


Running with your dad is one of the best experiences that human beings can have. I lived it and I will never forget it, I know that you will be reading these lines today on Father's Day and I can only say that enjoying our parents is a daily routine that ensures us happiness and all the good feelings that we can experience in our lives.

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