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An alternative title for this post would be “The He-Man HemHaw.”

Here’s why:

My father is turning 60 this year. He’s been running since his 20s, so he looks very good for his age. Running keeps you young. Unfortunately, all that running has taken a toll on his knees and his hips. He doesn’t run as much as he used to, but he still manages to get in 1-2 runs a weeks. He used to average 2-3 races a year when my siblings and I were kids, but now he goes years without doing a race. Whenever my sister mentions a race she plans on doing, He-Man always says, “That sounds great. If my knees would let me I would do that race.”

He winces and stretches and ices his knees and then winces and stretches and ices his knees again after every run. We would all feel really badly for how much his knees pain him except for one thing:

He’s full of crap.

This is what happens every time I run a race with my father:

4 weeks before the race

Me: Dad, are you going for a run today?

He-Man: Naaaaaawwww, my knees are in such bad shape now. I can’t even run the same way I used to. My hips are killing me too. You know, I never should have signed up for this race. I don’t think I can make it, the way my body is acting up lately.

3 weeks before the race

Me: Dad, you want to go for a run with me today?

He-Man: Not now, but I may go a bit later. My knees are killing me today. I need to run, but my knees give me so much trouble. I don’t think I could even make 2 miles the way they’re feeling. You go ahead. I may have to ice them and then try tomorrow.

2 weeks before the race

Me: Dad, did you run today?

He-Man: I got 3 miles in, but then I had to turn back because my knees were giving me so much trouble. They just started singing and I tried to keep going, but I didn’t want to push it. I don’t know if I can do that race. I may start running and then walk the rest. With all that heat and those hills I’ll never make it. I won’t even be able to do a 9 minute mile.

1 week before the race

Me: I’m going for a run.

He-Man: Good for you! I wish I could run today, but the way my knees are feeling…I used to be able to push a 6 minute mile on a good day. I don’t think I could even do a 10 minute mile now. Make sure you stretch when you’re done running; not stretching enough is what killed my poor knees.

The day of the race

Me: Ready?

He-Man: Oh I don’t know. I think I’ll run the first few miles and then walk the rest. My knees can only handle so much. I don’t want to make them any worse than they already are. I’m just hoping to finish the race.

2 miles into the race

Me: Where the heck did He-Man go?

The end of the race

He-Man: You know my knees held up much better than I thought they would! I’ll have to put lots of ice on them, but I was able to keep a 7:30-8 minute mile the whole time! How did you do?

Me: …I’m going to get a banana.

He-Man: Bring me some orange slices! Citrus is good for your knees.

I think my father gets a schadenfreudic pleasure out of beating my sister and me in every race we do as a family.

A little piece of my runner’s soul dies every time my father (who is nearly thrice my age) beats me in every race.

I’m hoping that by the time he’s 90 he’ll only be pulling an 8:45 mile.

Then I’ll totally own his nonagenarian behind.