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Changing My Relationship with Running after Losing a Running Partner

I ran my first marathon on February 13, 2022. It was the Mercedes Marathon in my hometown, Birmingham.

I was so excited on the run that I decided to abandon my race strategy. Somewhere around mile 17/18, I became pretty fatigued.

I did what I always did on long runs when the process felt monotonous--called my parents. Dad took great delight in talking to me about the latest things he'd read and also asking me if I knew various family stories.

I had heard most of them before--but as he sometimes did--he added something new. These little gems kept me distracted from the act of running and carried me across the finish line.

His condition (sarcoidosis) and the ongoing pandemic did not not make it possible for him to see me finish, but he was in my ear when I received my metal.

I wrote about that first race and also my ongoing relationship with my dad's sarcoidosis diagnosis in an article. The piece was written before he passed. Unlike my other recent work, he never knew this project existed.

Image Caption: Photo I took of dad, shortly after the race.

Back in the fall of 2023 I decided to sign up for a half marathon. I wanted to run another full marathon at some point in 2024 and thought training for a half would be smart.

This race--Publix's Women's Half Marathon--was the first I did without dad.

In his honor, I made a playlist of his favorite artists: Jackie Wilson, Marvin Gaye, Temptations, The Dells, James Brown.....and I also mixed in some of my favorite artists whose lyrics made me think of dad: Stevie Wonder, Kendrick Lamar, Outcast, PJ Morton, and more.

I planned to call mom when I became fatigued. But, miraculously my pace felt great. I texted her updates, instead.

The playlist did its job.

On April 6th. 2024 I crossed the finish line wearing one of dad's favorite walking hats.

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