Like Father, Like Daughter

Here we are, my dad and myself crossing the finish line of the Philadelphia Marathon. At ages 50 and 18, we both made one of our dreams come true on this very day. As our legs come to a stop after 26.2 miles of joy, pain, gratitude, discouragement and hope, tears water my eyes as reality hits me: we are marathoners!

Running has been my dad’s cure for all the anxiety, stress and negative emotions his daily life could bring him since 1997.

His running shoes are his one way ticket to liberation and this passion was transmitted to me when I was twelve.

I was far from being active and had absolutely no skills in any team sports. When I first tried out at running, I could barely run a mile without being out of breath, feeling like my lungs were going to burst up in flames. Under my dad’s encouragements, I persisted and eventually could do one loop in the park near our house, a 3km run. As results began to show, I took pleasure into running. For once, I was good at a sport, which gave me a boost in my self esteem. As years went by, I started to train more seriously and ended up running five half marathons while my dad had completed nineteen.

In summer of 2016, as I reached the age of maturity and my dad topped the big 50, we wanted to do something in honour of this special year. That is when the marathon crossed our mind. Of course, we had already thought about it but it always seemed out of reach. Soon enough, we were signed up for the Philadelphia Marathon taking place on November 20th of the same year and started training for it in August. Despite our crazy schedules, my dad and I managed to do our weekly long runs together.

The week-end of the event, excitement was at its peak as Philadelphia was crowded with runners. Attending the half marathon the day before only helped us to visualize our own race taking place hours later. As my alarm clock went on at 4:50AM on the day of the race, I had butterflies in the stomach knowing that the run was only two hours away. Or maybe was it the enormous amount of pasta, bread and rice that I ingested the days before… Who knows? As my dad and I were waiting at the starting line along with the 9,000 other runners signed up for the marathon, we were thrilled to be there, promising each other to stay together no matter how the race would turn out.

As the starter pistol was fired, the mob of runners gradually crossed the starting line. The first 13.1 miles were like a walk in the park for us. I had my ear buds on, blasting my favorite music to keep the momentum going. Enjoying ourselves, we were happily smiling to all the cameras that crossed our path. Although we tried to avoid it my taking gel shots regularly, we did eventually hit “the wall” at the 19th mile. For my dad, it was his body that was aching as he suffered from cramps which prevented him to perform his proper running stride. For me, my body could last the race but my mental was low as we were only half way into a round trip. The last 7.2 miles were nonetheless worth the fight although they required several short stops for my dad to stretch. At mile 25, I was mentally drained and started crying. It was the most wonderful yet the most exhausting experience I had ever gone through. Having just over a mile to go, I kept running with my dad by my side.

As we approached the crowd of supporters, I held on to my dad’s hand and didn’t let go until we had crossed the finish line. Like promised, we finished the race together.

I couldn’t ask for a better running partner to share my marathon experience with. As I like to say: “The body achieves what the mind believes”.

Susan Sidoriak