Home Blog Topics Life Lessons from Dad Running with dad & his tough-love approach to life (Christmas 2013)

Running with dad & his tough-love approach to life (Christmas 2013)

This year Christmas represented a 48 hour whirlwind of a trip to visit my family in New Jersey.  The two days were comprised of an emotionally charged run with my dad filled with some tough-love, lots of delicious food, family time and a ton of fun!


My parents with their grandchildren (from left to right: Ryan (2), Lilly (2) and Dylan (3)

Christmas Morning: A run filled with tidings of tough love

Christmas morning was CO-LD (18 degrees, feels like 8) but somehow I managed to convince my dad to go on an “easy” 7 mile run with me (insert maniacal laugh here). At first he dragged his heels complaining about the low temperature and his Achilles (he has been having flare-ups of tendinitis), but once I reminded him that he is a 5x marathoner and handed him a balaclava he was good to go!


We survived! Now bring on the beef wellington, baked brie and pecan pie!!


During the run we talked about life, love and the pursuit of happiness- no, really. Without saying too much-recently a potential full time job opportunity has presented itself to me. Once again I have been weighing out the pros and cons of juggling the responsibilities of being a mom, wife, runner and potentially a full-time working woman. I worry about if I really want to put Lilly into daycare and whether I will even be able to “do it all” as a full-time mom (something’s going to have to give, but what?).

While discussing this job opportunity my dad asked me some thought-provoking questions about where my life (and career) is heading. He said, “You could do so much with your life. You are so smart. You could write a book, you could go into the corporate world and be a health coach, you can do anything! But right now– right now I see you as an underachiever, someone who hasn’t lived up to their full potential. You need to take a chance or you will never know what you’re capable of.” His words cut right through me and my heart sank. I respect my father and greatly value his opinion. The subtle notion of letting him down brought tears to my eyes while running. I fumbled over a bunch of words and barely gargled out a coherent response. I was stuck. Go back to work full time? Stay home? Ugh. I hate this never-ending state of limbo.

Since I have been personally struggling over this very question for nearly two years I began to panic when someone else- let alone my father brought it to my attention once again. Just as my anxiety began to rise my dad abruptly said, “You continue on the route. I’m going to take a cut through at the next street. Try to catch me!”

I can’t be sure if he was hurting on the run (and needed to cut off a mile or so) or realized that my head was beginning to spin from our serious conversation, but I desperately needed a blank slate; it was as if he knew that refocusing my thoughts to the run itself was just what I needed. As promised dad made the next right turn and I immediately kicked it into a higher gear to quickly cover extra mileage and catch up to him. This unique game of speedwork cut right through the tension of our previous conversation, got me out of my head and helped me reconnect with the road. I turned off my brain and did what I do best: left foot, right foot, repeat.

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Can you guess which two miles I was trying to catch up to my dad?

At mile 5 I spotted my dad and spent the remainder of that mile trying to catch him! I was relieved to finally reconnect with him at the start of mile 6 and continue our discussion, but the moment had passed. Dad had given me his thoughts/advice and it was now up to me to process it; it is my life after all.

Even though my dad’s strong words hurt me the one thing I do know for certain is that I needed to hear them. I needed his tough-love approach to help me re-evaluate the decisions I am making in my life (whatever decisions they may be). I begrudgingly thank him for this, because I know that in due time I will figure it all out- thanks, in part, to him and his tough love.  

Despite the emotionally charged conversation we ended our run end with our typical high five. It’s been days and I’m still digesting his advice. The one thing I know for certain is that I’m not an underachiever, rather I’m just taking my time to figure out how to do it all (while maintaining a shred of my sanity): how to be a good mom, a good wife and take care of myself.

I promise to keep you posted on the job… and the status of my sanity. 😉

The rest of Christmas day was filled with food, family and fun. 🙂 Here’s a quick glimpse of what went down…


The Food

For breakfast we feasted on cinnamon rolls, bacon, sausage and french toast prepared by Owen. Lunch consisted of a veggie platter, a baked brie and tea sandwiches. After an entire day of waiting we were rewarded with the most delicious dinner: beef wellington! My mom cooks this every Christmas we get together (I’m sorry I didn’t snap a pic). As usual, my mom delivered and the wellington was fantastic.

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Clockwise from top left: pecan pie made by yours truly for dessert, Christmas tree, cannoli chip n’ dip platter on Christmas eve (yes, dreams do come true), and many stockings hanging!



My brother-in-law and O celebrated the family get together with some adult beverages… some of which I’m pretty sure were Sam Summer but they didn’t seem to mind.

Family Time

It was awesome to see Lilly run around with her two Jersey-based cousins, Dylan (3) and Ryan (2).


O and I got each of the kiddos sleds for Christmas. They didn’t seem to mind the lack of snow.



We tried to get a good picture with Lilly and Ryan but she just wanted to goof around. 🙂 Definitely my child.

My Favorite Gift

My mom is an incredibly thoughtful and generous gift-giver! This year she gave me an apple-shaped pendant (to represent NYC) with the words ING NYC Marathon engraved on one side and my name, the year and my race time engraved on the other side.
nyc present
I worked my bum off preparing and running the marathon so it’s nice to have a trinket (in addition to the medal) that will remind me of my hard work and the amazing experience that encompassed my very first marathon!! This necklace was so unexpected, so thoughtful and really- just so perfect! Thanks mom!! This really means a lot to me!!


I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas 2013!!

Happy Running,

The Lone Runner






3 Responses

  1. I had a challenging conversation with my mom on a run too. And it also happened to be on the direction of my life. It also made me a little sad, but not because of what she said but by her surprise by some things I said. And you’re right-it’s your life. Be happy, mon 🙂
    Love the gift from your mom-that is amazing! I hope you wear that often. I bought myself a small charm with 26.2 on one side and my time on the other. I wear it daily.

  2. It must be so special for you to go and run with your dad. Parents have a way of making us think, don’t they? I hope you enjoy the lovely gifts you received this Christmas.

    • thelonerunner

      It’s really nice to run with someone every now and then 🙂 and even better when it’s my dad. Merry Christmas to you too- and a Happy New Year!

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