Dave Griffin on Running – The Carroll County Times – Sunday, April 1, 2012
April 18th marks the 31st running of the Main Street Mile in Westminster. I still remember the first running of the race in 1982, when the idea of a downhill mile created excitement for all the local runners. I entered hoping to win, but was only able to manage third place.
I came back in 1983 thinking I was better prepared for a fast mile. I only shaved two-tenths of a second off my time, finishing seventh. After that, I decided the race was too short for this distance runner.
When I finally returned to the event in 1995, it wasn’t to race; it was to join the growing family tradition that’s continued to this day. My daughter, Katie, was five years old then.
It was, of course, not her but me who wanted to run the mile together. But when she arrived and joined the gathering crowd, she became excited.
We settled ourselves near the back of the pack and waited for the start. Then we ran along in the cool evening air. After a short while she tired, stopped, walked over to a curb, and sat down. I sat beside her.
We chatted for a few minutes, and as I looked away, she sprang to her feet and began running again. I chased behind her, the giggling loud enough for everyone nearby to hear. She ran as long as the laughter continued before stopping again and finding another curbside.
In the years after adolescence begins, it can be hard to know what your children are thinking. We see their emotions, but sometimes don’t know what’s creating them. When they are younger, it’s easier to figure things out.
The next time Katie jumped up and started running, I chased her again, pretending that she had surprised me. She was thrilled to keep me guessing, continuing the routine until she could hear the noise from the finishing area. Then, she held my hand and we ran there.
This past May, Katie graduated from Gettysburg College. She wasn’t shy about letting us know that she wanted to be on her own as soon as she was able; she had a thirst for independence.
She was fortunate enough to find a job in the difficult economy and, soon afterward, she moved away to a new place. She’s been gone now for a couple of months.
We don’t hear from her very much and I know that means she’s making it on her own. I’m happy for that; the loss I feel comes with the territory.
Jonas Salk, a great medical researcher, once said that we can only give two things of value to our children – roots and wings. In the family tradition of the Main Street Mile, and in the freedom of the thrilling run, parents try to give both.
Katie is using her wings. I pray for the strength to let her do that, and for the patience to wait for her roots to bring her back.
Dave Griffin is the Times’ running writer and coordinator of the Flying Feet Running Programs. His column appears every other Sunday. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org