One of my earliest and most enduring memories of my ‘Baba’ (Father in the Shona language of Zimbabwe) is of him in a pair of red running pants, bare-chested with an afro and a goatee beard, dripping with sweat after a run across the plains of our then home town – Buxton in Guyana, around 1980. Wish I had that photo to post with this blog! Ever since that time, my Father’s running became a staple in our household wherever we lived. I often wondered why he did it and what he got from it. When we lived in the Bahamas in the mid-80’s, during the long summer holidays, we would often go out as a family to one of the local school sports fields for an early morning run. My Mother and Sister would walk, but I would run. In the late 80s when in his mid-30’s my Father started competing in road races and did his first marathon. He became really cool with his students even inspiring them to enter races, and cool with our neighbourhood friends too – I remember feeling quite proud, even through those difficult father-teenage daughter times!
Since my teens I have taken to the streets and parks, whatever part of the world I am in, on and off, to run. Without knowing it running became a staple of my life. At 33, probably around the same age as my Dad had done, I did my first road race and have not looked back since. I now know why my Father ran and what he got from it. Running is about self discipline and self reliance: you have a race coming up? – it’s up to you and you alone to get ready, pushing through rain, sleet or snow. It’s about setting goals, working to achieve them and overcoming fear; though I loved running, I had never really pushed myself as far as I could as I can be a bit of a ‘girl’ when it comes to pain. But when I decided to run the marathon, train for it, and then do it, it confirmed that there was nothing I couldn’t do, provided I wanted to do it. Running is about a time for self-reflection – alone with your thoughts, hopes and aspirations, you have no choice but to be honest with yourself about your shortcomings, see a way to overcome them and get what’s yours. Pure and simple, my Father’s running gave me inspiration, one of the best gifts a parent can give a child, and one gift I hope I can give my child.
Today on Father’s Day, I say thank you to my Creator for giving me a Father who truly taught me how to run!