Friday, March 4, 2011

Time In My Hands

In 1968 Dr. Kenneth Cooper wrote a book called Aerobics. It was a groundbreaking concept, this aerobics thing. Cooper couldn't understand why big old strong guys weren't any good at sports that required endurance of any sort (distance running, cycling, etc.), until he hit on the notion that it was a person's ability to use oxygen efficiently that enabled them to perform well at those tasks.

From this revelation was the phenomenon of jogging born.

My father, who was described by his mother as a "sickly child," was struck by Cooper's ideas, and combining this information with some inspiration from the then very active career of Green Bay Packers' quarterback Bart Starr (local boy made real good), Daddy slipped on some sneakers and shorts and began jogging in 1969 at the age of 42.

It will seem very funny to folks much younger than I that at that time normal grown-up Joes didn't do exercise. They might play tennis with their buddies, or swing a golf club, or take a couple laps in a pool somewhere, but regular, daily, all by yourself with nobody watching stuff?  Nope, not so much.

Daddy was quite an oddity, that's for sure, but I was always pretty proud of him without really understanding why. I just knew my Daddy did something that none of my friends' daddies did, and that he could beat any of 'em in a footrace.

He put up his running shoes many years later. He can't remember now exactly when, or why, but he certainly wouldn't have done it lightly. I know his knees began to argue with him some, and that there were other things going on in his life that began to require more of his time and attention. Whatever the reason, all those years of being, virtually, the lone runner served him well through his recuperation from a stroke and colon cancer. He tackled recovery from those challenges exactly the same way he tackled that whole running thing -- thoughtfully, and with the same fierce self-competitive mindset he had used when he first measured his runs with this stopwatch in 1969:

That's my hand holding the stopwatch.

After protracted negotiations, he relinquished it to me yesterday (on loan, of course) to use in my own training. The resolution to our back and forth was announced to me by my Mother, in this e-mail: 


I needed a new challenge, and for me that means I need something quantifiable to look at, some tangible way to compete against myself. I think using the word spreadsheet may have tipped the scales in my favor.

 I am not a runner. I am a walker who enjoys doing some intervals, and I wanted this stopwatch to separate out my jogging/running minutes from my walking minutes. My ultimate goal is to bring in a sub-13 minute walk/run pace for the half-marathon in October 2011.  

I've never hit the sub-13 minute mark.

Until this morning. 

With Daddy's stopwatch in my hand.

And these words in my heart.....

Plan your work, and work your plan.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

Thank you, Daddy.


  1. I love this post for so many reasons, but primarily because I love that you have your sweet Daddy's stopwatch in your hand and all that means to you (and him, I suspect) Love that you just blew your time out of the water.

    I feel the same way wearing my late mum's wedding ring. I've become more feisty; less tolerable of injustice and standing up for what I believe in (that would be my MUM's personality down to a tee!)

    I think some of your Daddy's "go get 'em" attitude is rubbing off on you too gal...

    Now go "beat 'em" all too!!

  2. This is lovely. thanks for sharing it.