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Kids Keep You Running

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We don't always see the best of our children when they're growing up.

In a few days—assuming no familial crisis or horrific shoe malfunction—my daughter and I will be lining up to take part in the Colfax Marathon up in Denver. The race takes place on Sunday, which means that by this time next week, I'll still probably be whining and soaking my legs in ice water.

My daughter will not need to soak. Never mind that this is my fifth marathon and only her first. She's tougher than I am.

Emily and I have been training for this marathon since late last fall. En route, we've dodged coyotes and deer. We ran in snow and wind and mud. We've pounded trails in the dark of the morning and watched the sun rise. And we made about a half million bathroom stops. We used one restroom in a local bicycle shop so often that Em plans to bake the owners cookies.

She even talked her boyfriend into joining us for a 10-miler. I learned many things on that run, among them: 1) Her boyfriend hates running. 2) Emily has no tolerance for weakness.

A sample of their conversation:

Boyfriend: "Yeah, I think my knee's about to give."

Em: "Oh, don't be so dramatic. You're fine!"

BF: "No, really. Look how swollen it AAAARGHH!"

Em: "Come on, get up. Just six more miles."

That's my girl.

I never knew my daughter was quite so steely, so tough, until we started training. She's all of 90 pounds, if that: Her smile is wider than her biceps. I didn't know if she'd make it to the marathon—particularly after her knee started hurting barely a month into our regimen. Her doctor said nothing was wrong, really—but that didn't make the hurt go away. No matter: She gutted it out, pushed on and, a bit miraculously, the pain eventually just disappeared.

Naturally, it was placed by the standard leg, foot, shoulder and back pain endemic to all folks training for a marathon, but no matter. We expect that.

And before you ask, I wasn't really pushing her to keep training. It hurt me to see her limp at the end of our early training runs. And maybe a part of me was secretly hoping she'd quit, so I could go back to my normal training regimen of lifting the television remote. But she gutted it out.

We don't always see the best of our children when they're growing up. We sometimes feel like we have to push them to do homework or nag them to clean their rooms or force them to write thank-you notes. So it can surprise us when we discover that they're stronger and more determined than you thought.

I don't know how much credit I can take for Emily's toughness. But I know that however the marathon turns (turned) out, I'll be a very proud dad.

This post was written by Paul Asay.

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