It's Father's Day here in the UK and I wanted to dedicate this post to my running inspiration, my dad, Gary Wade.
I think running is quite literally in my blood! I have been running on and off for many years, starting out at school in the athletics and cross country teams. When I was a little older, I started joining my dad in road races - he would do the 10km and I would do the fun run. Eventually, I joined him in the 10km and we used to travel around the country doing various races.
My dad got bit by the marathon bug big style. This did not appeal to me - it just sounded way too far (and too hard) and I was happy sticking with my 10kms. However, I often would join my dad for his long Sunday training runs - he would run, I would bike.
After supporting him at various races, I was finally tempted to do my first marathon. It was supposed to be a one off, something to tick off my bucket list but I also got bitten by the bug.
He introduced me to his marathon family - a warm, welcoming bunch of runners - each with their own abilities and achievements and all with their own stories and reasons for running.
People know me for being "into" running and often talk to me about it. One of the most common questions I am asked is "why running?" They are amazed by how many marathons I have done. People think I am modest and play down how many I have done as I generally reply "only........" (22 as it currently stands). I then tell them about my dad and as soon as I tell people of my dad's achievements, their general reply is "Ah, that makes sense!" As of last week, he was on marathon number 330! My little 22 is nothing in comparison with my dad's incredible achievement. At the age of 57, he is still knocking out marathons week after week, even coming in 2nd at one of the toughest races I've done in a long while (Temple Newsam).
Over the years, he has given me many words of wisdom - run tall when running up hills (it opens your lungs you see - no slouching), run baby steps when getting tired (run slow and try and avoid walking, but don't stress if you do walk) and most importantly, always smile for the race photographers! He's also helped me finish many a race, some of which I may have given up on if I hadn't had his support.
He has overcome recent health setbacks - a few years ago he was diagnosed with diabetes. Some may give up or at least "tone down" the running but it seemed to just make him more determined - he actually became faster after they initially sorted his meds!
Over the last month, he has started having these heart flutters part way through a race, believing them to be asthma related, he has stopped mid race, let them pass and continued the race to finish (still beating me in several races by a long way). Having had these investigated, these "flutters" may well have been mini heart attacks. Now, I can honestly say there are no other runners on earth whom I have met who have had a potential heart attack mid race and continued on to the finish (4 times now)! Call him crazy (and I do, quite often)....however, I also think he is strong, determined and extremely stubborn!!
My dad is currently in hospital being investigated to determine the cause of these weird heart flutters. Obviously, the first question he asked was about his running capabilities and all being well, he will be back up and running very shortly.
Dad, even though this is not the Father's Day you planned, please rest up and I'll see you back on the race circuit soon. You are my running inspiration and I am truly, very proud of you. Happy Father's Day xxx
PS: It is still my lifetime ambition to beat you in a race, but I'll wait until you're recovered or it's just not a fair race!!! :)