C+O Canal: Just Another Way to Say I Love You

Me:  I love you, Dad.
Dad:  What? Am I dying?

In fact, he was.  This was the last thing I said to my dad, and the first time I ever said it to him.  We just didn’t use those words in our house

The first time my mom said it, was on my wedding day.  She was walking away from me, heading out the door.   I knew it was hard for her, and I cherished hearing it.

Once when Danielle (of course Danielle would ask this) asked why, my mom said, “You know you are loved. Why do you need to hear it?”.  

In college we used to say “I ludge you”.  I could do that.  We said it so we didn’t sound gay.  For many of my sorority sisters, there is tremendous irony in that statement.

This weekend, I ran C+O Canal.  I had high hopes for this race, and I trained with a vengeance.  For some reason, I can go pretty fast on that course, and I’ve set two PR’s along that canal.

On the trail, it got pretty “dark” for me.  The rain was relentless, and I could see a time goal slipping away.  I forcefully took control of my mood.  I thought about the words ‘I love you”.  I thought about all of the people in my life who do love me, but may never say the words.  Instead, they show me love by reaching out to me...supporting me in a sport that they may find “crazy”...really thinking about what I need, which may be as simple as letting me know they are thinking of me.

The race was tough.  I finished the first fifty miles in ten hours and I was feeling great.  Then, the sky opened up, and took my good mood with it.  I’m not fond of running against the clock.  I had to do it when I was trying to qualify for Boston, and again when Ironman training.  To me, although it’s great to go really fast, running to hit an arbitrary time, simply sucks the fun out of it.

Somewhere in the middle of the night, after hours of pouring rain, I decided I wasn’t going to look at my watch again.  I set the timer for that goal time and put my watch away.  “Let’s just see what I can do with this” I thought.  I made it to mile 97 when the alarm went off.  And, most importantly, I got there feeling good about myself.

That goal time, yeah, I know I’ll get it.  I was closer last year when I wasn’t trying.  But, more important than a goal time, (that means nothing to any one but me) I am grateful for the experience of recognizing all the love that I have in my life.  I don't take the words for granted.  I consider them a gift.  I can't believe I'm going to say this, but my mom was right: I don’t need to hear the words to know.  

I should finish the conversation with my dad.  These were his final words to me:
Dad:  Hey Kid.
Me:  Yeah?
Dad:  Give ‘em hell

I've never heard i love you more clearly in all my life.


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