Early on Saturday or Sunday mornings back in the early 90s, when I would drive over to my high school boyfriend’s house, his dad would just be returning from what I’m guessing was his long run. He always wore a faded cotton t-shirt (this was before techwick) and a beat up looking pair of running shoes. He would stand, sweat soaked and panting in the driveway, and stretch a few limbs here and there.

I remember watching him and thinking he was completely insane.

He would always say something like “you guys should do something more productive with your time, like run!”  What? Sitting around and listening to music was unproductive? It was actually more shocking to us that he thought running was anything but torture.

DadsWhoInfluencedRunning

Oh how times have changed! Now I’m the sweaty parent in the driveway and my boys look at me with questioning faces…unless of course I bring home a sword or something. But, I often think about Mr. Z and all those runs he took and how much he must have enjoyed them, and how equally disappointed he must have been that we looked at him only incredulously and not with awe or longing.

It took me about 10 years, but I finally reached that running zen myself. Although Mr. Z was my earliest running influence, there have been many over the years and, in honor of father’s day, they deserve some recognition!

My Brother

Father of two, runs only occasionally but can get off the couch and run 8 miles fairly easily after not running for months, and one of my biggest influences and supporters.

He was more athletic then me in high school. He still relishes his state championship long jump title from 1990-something. And he should. It was awesome. My earliest memory is of him cheering me along in my walker saying “Go Allie! You can do it!” I have that same memory from the Boston Marathon in 2007 when he told me to “set my pace and run my race,” a mantra I use to this day.

Selfie on Okemo Mountain with my brother this past March, celebrating my 40th birthday! He's been there for all of them.

Selfie on Okemo Mountain with my brother this past March, celebrating my 40th birthday! He’s been there for all of them.

Eminem

Father of one, rapper, the real slim shady, not a runner…except maybe from the law

Interesting choice I know but Eminem’s music has gotten me though some of my toughest runs and races. There isn’t a marathon runner out there who doesn’t perk up when they hear his iconic ballad ‘Lose Yourself’ blasting mid-race…because someone was always playing it from their driveway to motivate us. It is a fluid, musical mantra.

Another favorite of mine is ‘Till I Collapse’ for obvious reasons, ‘Monster’ and ‘Love The Way You Lie’ with Rihanna. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard these out on a run, blasting though my ears, and they never cease to motivate. Thank you Slim Shady. Happy Father’s Day you lunatic.

Source: HollywoodLife.com

Source: HollywoodLife.com

My Uncle Jim

Father of three sons, non-runner but avid walker, cigar smoker, life long protector and servant of the law 

His wife, my Aunt Carla is by far my biggest fan. So, unfortunately for him, he hears (in what I’m sure is excruciating detail) all of my race highlights, workouts, blogs, etc. What floors me is that he actually cares and has probably been forced come to more of my races then my husband. He’s genuine in his words of support, because he doesn’t know any other way to be, and has given me the best advice on how to raise athletes, since he raised three, although I’m sure his boys would argue amongst themselves who was an actual ‘athlete.’ His simple takeaway? ‘Always make it fun.’ Yep.

My badass uncle with my Aunt on his lap. They've been together since high school. Seriously. This was taken sometime after graduation :-)

My Uncle with my Aunt on his lap. They’ve been together since high school. Seriously. This was taken sometime after graduation 🙂

My Dad

Of course and always, my father has given me all the tools I needed to succeed. Although he cannot walk and chew gum at the same time (true story) his mental game is solid. Since the day I was born he has told me anything is possible and, more then that, has showed me.

Our family has been though unbelievable pain and suffering with the death of my mother in 1993, times of near financial devastation, and I was no picnic for him in my teen years. Through it all my dad has never wavered in his trumpeting of ‘onward!’ He is the ultimate believer in going and doing and making your life what it is. He taught me the power of the mind and that it’s ‘all in the attitude.’ I mean, my mom had that as her license plate. On her Toyota Supra. I wish I was joking.

He's just a little Cuban but a huge presence.

He’s just a little Cuban but a huge presence.

One of my most favorite mantras for racing and life, my father gave to me, and I will leave it with you:

“What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve!”

Happy Father’s Day to all the great dads! The rest of you, and you know who you are, start upping your game.

How has your dad most influenced you?

What man has influenced you most in your life and why?