If I can say one thing about myself with certainty, it’s that I am not sporty. In no way did I ever enjoy the occasional run, the quick weight-lift work-out, the pilates/yoga/thai boxing/zumba class or the fancy stationary cycle.
I was a chubby kid and gym class was – to say the least – not my favorite. Even in highschool I dreaded it, every time I would, ever so slowly, walk to the gym and ever so slowly make my way to the changing room and without failing, I would always be the last one in the gym (however I always was the first to be out of the gym, as soon as the teacher would announce the end of the session). Not once, in all my years, in elementary, in junior high and in highschool, did I actively participate in class.
How I ever managed to pass my classes, fit into a size 4 and not stop eating chocolate? Well, definitely not with a healthy, sporty exercise regiment, let me tell you that.
My grandma passed away only 8 months ago, after 2 1/2 years battling cancer. Towards the end she wasn’t able to walk anymore without assistance. I didn’t witness this first hand, since the last time I saw her, she tried her very best to walk up to me and hug me. Although I saw the pain in her eyes and told her, she didn’t have to get up, she insisted and like all grandmothers sent from heaven, she hid the pain from me, so I wouldn’t be afraid for her.
I remember so many times, when we sat together and talked. That’s all we did. Sit and talk. But when she died, I couldn’t sit anymore. I needed to walk. I needed to get the pain of losing her out of me and so I did the most simplest thing, I could possibly do: walk. I walked and walked and walked, over 75 miles a week. I’d be lying if I’d say that it wasn’t the loss of my grandma enabling me to do so, because that’s exactly what it was.
Late May this year I flew to Vienna to visit my family and my dad asked me, if I wanted to run with him. He said, it was like walking only a bit faster. And so I agreed to it and started to run. I ran ever since, 4 times a week between 1-2 hours every time. I have a fancy running watch that tells me my heart-rate. It beeps when I run too fast or too slow. It beeps when I run too long or too short. It basically beeps constantly. I bought some nice running clothes that allow me to run aerodynamically and just last week I bought new running shoes that support my feet, calves and legs in a way, that is just phenomenal. It feels like walking on clouds, every time. Seriously.
But see, I don’t only run for me, I also run for my dad. Who runs between 3-4 marathons/ultra marathons/mountain marathons every year. Currently he is training for a 100k. My grandma never understood why he would put himself through the constant feel of pain, having to run so many kilometers and until her death, neither did I. Every time after he ran a marathon, he was beaten and tired. He wore himself out and still he kept going. Now I understand why, it’s a way of coping with what the world throws at you.
At the end of this year, a year after my grandma’s funeral, I will be running a half-marathon. I know, it’s a crazy idea, wanting to run a half-marathon outside in December in Norway but see, sometimes, you just know what you have to do. If everything goes well, my dad will run with me and then hopefully – finally – we will run through the finish line together.
In a way I am very thankful that my dad is so sporty, so consistent and that he knows what he is physically capable of. I love the support he gives me, the guidance he provides me with and how I can talk to him about anything (running related or not running related, with my dad, it doesn’t matter). He is a smart man, with a huge heart and I love him for the person he is and that he challenges me every day to be and do the best I can. He will be turning 50 this week and I know that, if he were granted a wish, he would wish for my grandma to be here.
She won’t be, at least not in a physical sense and neither will I, also not in a physical sense (due to school and work). But I will be running, in memory of my grandma’s great life and as a dedication to my dad, the greatest runner and human being I know.