“A warm smile is the universal language of kindness.” –Ward
This past Sunday my dad woke up at 5am, laced up his running shoes, and ran 26.2 miles in the Detroit Marathon. This is an incredible accomplishment no matter who you are. For my dad, who was running his first marathon at 60-years-old, it was beyond incredible. The amount of dedication, determination, and physical and mental fortitude it takes to put in necessary months of training is inconceivable to most.
When my dad first got seriously into running a couple years ago, he was unsure whether or not he could cover a half-marathon distance. Using our persuasive powers (we went ahead and bought him a finisher’s t-shirt) my sister and I convinced our dad to sign up and complete his first half-marathon. After that he decided to sign up for another half with a faster time-goal. And then another. And then another. Each time with the goal of finishing faster than before.
When he finally took the plunge and signed up for the full-marathon I knew I had to be there to cheer him on. I also knew I wanted to be there at the finish line with a special surprise to commemorate the event. The day before the race, I drove the hour up to Detroit to buy him an official race jacket at the marathon expo. I didn’t want him to know what I was up to so I had to be super sneaky. Note my dad (burgundy sweater) in the creepy, stalker-like picture below. I accidentally ran into him at the expo, but thankfully he didn’t see me.
The day of the race I couldn’t have been more proud of my dad. He ran a great race and finished in just over four hours, but that wasn’t what impressed me most. Here was a guy that decided, at age 60, he was going to attempt something most people wouldn’t even want to do in their 20s. Here was a guy that proved that if you channel all your energy into an endeavor, anything is possible.
Around mile 20 of the race, my dad got a bad cramp in his calf that kept him sidelined for a couple minutes. The idea that he might not be able to finish crossed his mind. But instead of wallowing in self-pity, he got up, stretched out his leg, and pushed on. It’s that stubborn persistence, that refusal to give-up that makes me the most proud. I presented my dad with the jacket following the race, and he proudly wore it home.
The next day, a small bag showed up on our doorstep. In it was a note of thanks and a gift for Brad and me. It was a random act of kindness returned, or as my dad called, a random act of gratitude. Kindness really is contagious.