The energy was otherworldly, like I had placed a foot onto the sun. Voices cheered loudly in the stadium, which arched around me in an enthusiastic embrace. I felt his hand grab mine, and we did it. We crossed the finish line together, father and daughter.
His one voice seemed to cheer louder for me than the thousands in the stands.
It was my first ever Bolder Boulder race. My dad’s umpteenth. Little did I know, it would be his last. The moment was special enough even without the future prophecy.
We hugged and danced around the stands in celebration, my aching leg muscles quickly forgotten. It was the farthest I’d ever run, but for my dad, it was barely a challenge. He’d forfeited his chance to improve his time to trot alongside me and urge me forward. I had to walk a few times (or maybe I just got swept up in the entertainment along the way, from belly dancers to live bands; yeah, sure, that’s why).
My dad had been a longtime, long-distance runner, a hobby he actually picked up when my mom got pregnant with me. As the story goes, he would run laps around our Colorado farm after work. As his laps grew longer, I grew bigger, and his passion for running grew deeper. He always invited me to join, but I always turned him down, content instead with hiding in my dark room with a book or climbing the trees until the branches bowed dangerously. To read a book up there.
He was euphoric when one day, freshly out of college, I asked if I could race with him. Just to know the feeling of crossing the finish line. I signed up out of curiosity. But it became one of the best memories of my life.
It wasn’t long after we proudly entered Folsom Field holding hands that my dad was hit by a car while riding his bike on a closed road. He suffered a serious head injury, major leg injuries and nearly died. I remember sitting by his bed in intensive care listening to him breathe, wondering if he would ever wake up. I held his weak hand and replayed our Bolder Boulder finish line scene again and again in my head. We would cross this line, too. Together. This time, it was my turn to urge him forward, one step at a time.
My dad did wake up, but he would never run again. It took him many years to regain his ability to walk. Then to ride his bike again. Then, to everyone’s surprise, in his 60s, he began studying Kenpo and quickly rose to the top of the school. Today, he is stronger than he ever was before, even when he was a Colorado cowboy in his 20s running laps around the family farm.
It’s Memorial Day weekend, and I’m headed to the Bolder Boulder with my dad again. This time, we aren’t running the race. We will be reporting on it together: me, as the reporter, and my dad, as the photographer for a family-run dream, TravelBoulder.com. This time, we’re both running full speed ahead, side by side. The perfect team.
Beyond the BolderBoulder 2017 and Boulder Creek Festival, here are some other exciting things happening around Boulder this week:
Concert in the Park: One of the highlights of summer are the free concerts in the park in Erie. Hear live music 5-9 p.m. Saturday at Coal Creek Park, 575 Kattell in Erie. Buy wine, beer and snacks or bring your own picnic. This is a family-friendly event with free kids activities, too. This week’s headliner is Phat Daddy.
Cannabis Healing Meditation: Here’s a true, only-in-Boulder activity. From 1-4:30 p.m. Sunday, you can join in on a cannabis healing meditation near Boulder (address given to participants after they buy the $49 tickets). The guided meditation, incorporating the use of cannabis, will be at a private meditation studio. For more info, visit medicinalmindfulness.org/chm.
Ancient Beach Walk: Here’s a unique way to explore Colorado’s outdoors. Join the free Ancient Beach Walk 9-11 a.m. Saturday in Longmont. A naturalist will bring participants on an easy walk to look at fossils and interesting geologic features from back when this area was a marine environment. To register, email [email protected] or call 303-678-6214. Space is limited and the location will be given to participants.