Marine Corps Marathon


a poster of this picture hung framed in our basement for years. it was risky business, hanging such a big print on the wall of a room that was devoted to "horsing around", so it was only a matter of time until a fractured web took residence on the lower corner of the glass. we all denied doing it, of course. if it was me, i effectively blocked it out of my memory and destroyed all the evidence. my parents never replaced the glass probably from a lack of time. (i have ONE child and still have two coats sitting in the back of my car from last spring's cleaning that need to be dropped off at the dry-cleaners.) but looking at this image now, i still see that web in the corner - though it's more appropriate now that nearly twenty years have passed.

i was five years old in 1986 when my dad ran his first marine corps marathon. we were all waiting for him at the finish, amid hundreds of other supportive families waiting to reunite with their own phidippidean heroes. he gave me a big hug that crinkled with the mylar blanket wrapped around his shoulders and i recognized the sweet familiar ammonia scented sweat of his efforts. i never actually saw him run; just the salt crystallized in the creases of his face and a play-by-play of each mile. through his stories, i had run a marathon in my mind dozens of times. the marine corps marathon is called the people's marathon but i call it papi's marathon. oh, he ran other marathons - even qualified for boston a handful of times - but this race was the. one. it struck close to home (literally). not only did we live only some twenty miles up the potomac from the finish at the iwo jima memorial, but he was a marine. and he was hard core. so there you go.

look at him, he hasn't aged a bit. that's how he lives in my mind. a picture of health. there is even a hint of a smile on his face. would that I could produce such images while running - i always unfortunately get caught with shoulders slumped, mouth agape and jowls pulled to the earth by gravity.  it was this photograph of my father that inspired me to run a marathon. (that, and the unspoken obligation of being a runner with a father who ran marathons.) in any case, it was this image that ran alongside me as i trained for my first attempt at the distance. look at him, like the american dream personified: work hard and you can achieve any goal you set forth. even the photographer strategically composed his shot with the nation's capital in the backdrop. you can practically hear bruce springstein chanting born in the USA

when i started running back in high school, people used to ask when i would run a marathon. my answer then was at 25. it seemed like a good, round number and far enough away to put off. i was determined to do one though. it was the first thing i ever put on my "bucket list". i dreamed of running my first marathon with my dad and my twin sister: the three runners of the family. had i stuck with the commitment, it could've happened, but i put it off until 30 and by then our window had closed. he's five years gone now and i've got a baby boy who's blue eyes can only have come from his grandfather. now it's my sister's time. when she felt the draw to run her first consecutive 26.2 our dad's milestone anniversary called for one option only: run the marine corps. it'd be nice do it with her, but some things you need to do on your own. anyway, i suspect that she won't be alone; the wind be at her back, with papi pushing her along.



© current tempo All rights reserved . Design by Blog Milk Powered by Blogger