My dad always pushed me to achieve. Anything I dreamed of accomplishing, he backed me with unwavering faith. His eyes told me his words weren’t lip service– they were truth.
He never let me back away; he never let me be a “girl” about anything. My dad was the guy that gave me my first road bike at age 9 and said “Let’s go see how fast you can go”. When I was 10 years old and was dying to ride a roller coaster at Six Flags, but then chickened out he was the one that said “Get back in line! You are riding this thing!” He was the dad that let me skip a day of school and fly in his plane with him on a day trip. Once we got up to altitude he leaned back, crossed his arms, closed his eyes and said “I’m going to take a nap. You fly the plane and just let me know if you need anything”.
When I was about 8 years old, my dad starting participating in triathlons. I don’t know what turned him on to them, but he and my brothers, who were in college at the time, would race in the local ones. The Cotton States Triathlon was our local race. I was so anxious to participate in this event that my dad let me run him to the finish line.
Watching my dad and brothers in those triathlons sparked an interest for me that my dad, thankfully, fostered and cultivated. At 14 years old, I mentioned to him that I wanted to complete a triathlon. When school got out, he challenged me to get up with him at 6 am almost every morning and ride with him. I did it, but honestly I hardly ever wanted to get out of bed. In the end though, there was never a morning I regretted dragging myself out of bed and getting that ride in. Nothing, nothing, could take the place of riding with my dad next to growing cotton fields on one side of me and the lake on the other side in the peace of the morning.
The above picture is now taped in my closet next to two other pictures. One is of me being run in by my brother at my first triathlon when I was 14 (my dad is grinning ear to ear in the background) and the other is of me crossing the finish line at St. Jude Marathon where I ran a Boston qualifying time. Mom inspiration: At the time I had a 5-year-old, a 2.5-year-old and an 8-month-old.
I didn’t have a dad that coddled me. He didn’t treat me like a princess or buy me jewelry. He taught me perseverance, determination, and drive – and I am eternally grateful for that.
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