My daughter earlier this week asked me the question all 40-year-old fathers dread from their little girl. You mentally try to prepare yourself for a question like this because, as a parent, you always want to be ready for it, and you want to be able to not just answer it, but deal with the consequences that come with it.
And you want to be able to deal with it mentally, so you don't flip out and give some knee-jerk reaction that could end up hurting your relationship with your child.
I didn't do that part. She totally caught me off guard while driving to Tracy on Monday when she blurted out: "Dad, will you run the 5K with me at Box Car Days this year?"
I almost went in the ditch.
I gathered myself and tried to remain calm.
First thing I thought was, "OK, 5K what's that, like, a mile, right? I can do a mile."
Sure we can run it, I told her.
Turns out, it's not a mile, not even close. It's three times that, plus a .1. It's 16,368 feet. It's 5,000 meters. It's from Garvin to Garvin Park.
I have a lot of questions that need answers before I run this thing:
1. Are there pit stops?
2. Are we allowed to throw up? And if so, how often?
3. What does one get for placing last, and will event organizers stick around for the last runners to show at the finish line, no matter how long it takes a person to finish?
4. Define "finishing."
5. How many paramedics will be on hand?
6. Is air care available?
7. Do you have to start at the beginning?
Maybe I'm worried for no reason. Maybe it will be a piece of cake.
That's the mindset I'm taking, so I immediately starting training. No, this isn't Carrie Tollefson training, this is more reminding my body what it's like to move constantly for long periods of time. I've let myself go a bit, but it's not my fault. Really, it's not. Like many Americans who work full-time, I sit at a desk. All day. I type. I read copy. I work on pages. I go through emails. Then, when the times comes that I can get out and exercise, I'm too tired to do it because of all that sitting I do at work.
I know, lame excuses all. Everyone should find time to exercise. It really shouldn't be that hard. But there's a difference between finding the time and finding the motivation.
Well, now I have the latter. I love doing things with my daughter, and if spending extra time with her this summer and taking part in an event like a 5K means I have to retrain my mind and my body and become a "runner," so be it.
The training began the very day she popped that question. I committed myself to this adventure by texting her that afternoon that we will be running that night.
"What do you mean?" she texted back.
I wrote back that we're going to start running every day (every day is subjective and can mean a lot of different things). So sure enough by 6 that night we were out on the driveway stretching. The driveway is three-quarters of a mile long - so down and back twice is about a 5K. Close enough.
I made it to the top of the hill (about half way down to the mailboxes). I caught my breath and headed back. Slowly. I don't even think we polished off a full mile that evening, but it was a start.
Somehow I convinced myself this was some sort of major accomplishment and then justified cutting off training for the day: "I have to start slow," I told myself. "Next day, we won't stop to catch our breath."
Small steps. Training for a 5K, is a marathon, not a sprint, pardon the pun, so I will take it slowly, thank you very much.
The day after my training started it rained, of course, so we didn't run again until Thursday. Things weren't much better for me. Like a prank phone call, there was plenty of heavy breathing. But I'll keep working at it, if for no other reason than not to totally embarrass myself at the 5K like I think I did in front of my daughter earlier this week.
I hope I don't regret agreeing to run the 5K with her, but it's dawned on me that I'd much rather she asked me about where babies come from than to run three miles with her.