I’ve seen a million pictures lately of dads taking their daughters to dances – daddy and daughter dances. I love it! But now, instead of going to dad and daughter dances, we will just have to settle for dad and daughter races. Come on, what doesn’t beat that?
I called dad and asked if he wanted to run a 12k with me. He had recently beaten his longest run and was super proud of completing 8.5 miles. I thought, if he can do that, he can run this 12k. And of course – apparently this is where I get it from – he said yes, always being up for a challenge.
So, Saturday morning we loaded up and headed over to St. Marks, Florida, a small fishing town just south of Tallahassee. The St. Marks Trail runs from the south end of Tallahassee for 20 miles, finally landing smack in the heart of St. Marks. Part of the race course was going to take place on this trail and I couldn’t have been more excited. Flat and fast.
The weather this morning was nice. It was cool, but not too much so. I mean, it is February in Florida. I was able to get away with a short sleeve shirt and leggings.
Once we parked, hit the potties and took a couple pics, it was time to line up for the race start. Dad and I took off, somewhere in the middle of the pack, and I waved goodbye, telling him I would see him at the finish.
The course wound its way through the small town and made its turn onto the trail. I thoroughly enjoyed the run down the trail. It was shaded and completely flat. Hello, PR. However, I wasn’t going for a PR today. I simply wanted to get out and stretch my legs and have fun on this 7.5 miles. I found a good pace and got into a rhythm. Not far into the trail head, they had the 6k runners turn around. The rest of us, which were quite a few, continued on the trail.
They had us turn around at around mile 4. I passed dad at about the halfway point, giving him a high-five. I also passed an older gentleman carrying the American flag, being flanked by other runners carrying flags. It was awesome! The men were wearing shirts that advertised running for veterans. Yes, it totally choked me up.
As I came towards the end of the course, the sun had finally decided to come out and the day was absolutely beautiful. There is nothing quite like running along the water. I would definitely be signing up for this race again.
Once I finished, I hung back, waiting for dad. As I waited, I heard that a couple of runners had to be picked up by the golf cart, so I texted dad. Surely he would have called me if something had happened. Although, knowing him, he would crawl across that finish line before he ever let that golf cart pick him up. Thankfully, he texted me back, telling me he was at mile 6.5. He was almost there.
The race officials were starting to talk amongst themselves, asking who was still out. I quickly chimed in that I was waiting for my dad. In the background, they had begun giving out the awards to the other runners. It was perfectly fine. All I cared about was that we both crossed the finish line, no matter how fast or how slow that was.
Dad texted me again. Mile 7. He was making his way towards the finish. I ran up a little, spotting him making his way towards me.
Dad officially crossed the finish line with a PR. He was a machine! Not bad for an old guy of 71.
After the race, we were both famished, so we headed over to Riverside Café. Cooter Stew Cafe, another restaurant in the area, was packed with runners. They also were having live music outside. But I was glad we opted for Riverside Café. I mean, you can’t quite beat this view.
Dad and I both ordered a beer with lunch. I’m beginning to realize that post-race beers are just not my thing. Maybe it was my empty stomach that wasn’t agreeing with it. I ordered a Cuban sandwich and a side of roasted veggies – literally the best veggies I had tasted in a while – and I started to feel a little better. So, note to self, perhaps leave the beer to others with stomachs of steel.
As we packed up and headed out of town, I was reminded of just how lucky I am. Over the past six years, while sis and I have undertaken this crazy love of running, our parents have joined us. Sure, mom mainly walks the 5k’s, but she’s bravely out there doing her best. And dad has found this deep love of running again that just amazes me. I guess we have truly turned this into a family thing.
Note-worthy restaurants in the area
Riverside Café – a surprisingly large restaurant right on the water. You can sit outside, while still covered under their giant thatch roof, and enjoy the weather. You can watch as boats pull up and take off from the marina just to the left of the restaurant. They offer a multitude of things to eat from burgers, to sandwiches to salads. One of the most interesting parts of this place is the markers along one of the beams indicating where the water levels have risen to during different hurricanes.
Cooter Stew Café – a smaller restaurant that has a great, down-to-earth feel that usually offers live music on the weekends. Similar to Riverside, they offer sandwiches and burgers alike.