I recently celebrated Father’s Day with my dad, Randy, but a week later than the actual holiday.
But, that was perfectly fine with me. My father and I haven’t done many father/son trips or experiences, so I thought it would be great for us to finally take part in one by going to the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships together at Drake Stadium June 21-24.
Track has always been able to bring my dad and I together, whether it was through my own running career or continuing to follow high school athletes, collegians and the professionals after my career came to an end.
You see, my love of track and field came from my father.
When I was younger, my parents had to drag me to my sister Sarah’s track meets. I absolutely hated it. I could often be found telling my mother, “I hate track. I’m never going to run.”
Somewhere along the line, my position on the sport changed. It started by giving cross country a try and finding out I was actually halfway decent at it.
Dad was always encouraging of me when I first began to explore my passion for running. He and Mom also took it upon themselves to start running with me when I first started out. It became a family affair, until eventually neither one of them could keep up with me any longer.
The first track meet I ever participated in was the Iowa Games. Dad entered me in the 1,500 meters, the 200 meter dash and the father/son 2x200 relay. My sister had been a sprinter, and my parents were unsure if I would be a distance runner or a sprinter. This was our chance to find out.
I don’t recall what I placed in the 1,500 meters, but I vaguely remember running well, possibly even medaling in the event. But the 200 meter dash was an entirely different story – I finished dead last.
Following that performance, Dad thought it would be a good idea if we dropped out of the father/son relay. I can’t say that I blame him, even though I know at the time he was pretty quick.
Over the years, he continued to encourage me and push me to always be better and faster. It was tough love sometimes, but in the end, I was better for it. Better as a runner because he continually pushed me and better as a person, because he showed me the value of hard work and dedication.
I had the opportunity to pursue my dream of running collegiate cross country and track and field at the school of my choice because of my father’s own hard work to ensure I had enough money to pay for college.
And though my running career didn’t finish the way either of us had anticipated when I packed my things up and left Creston for St. Louis, I can’t thank him enough for not only passing on that love of track and field to me, but also for giving me the opportunity to pursue that dream.
That’s what made our Father’s Day trip so special to me; being able to take Dad to Drake Stadium – a place that holds so many special memories for me – to watch the country’s best track and field athletes compete over four days was the perfect way for me to thank him.
Even though it was difficult for me to watch several former competitors of mine from college competing in the meet and knowing that, if things had gone differently, perhaps I could have been running in the meet with my dad watching from the stands, I still had a great time sharing the experience with my father.
So thank you, Dad. Thank you for passing on that love of track and field to me, thank you for sharing a weekend with me at the track meet and thank you for showing me the meaning of hard work and dedication.
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