My parents have been visiting us over two trips; a few days at a time. The first trip provided some interesting moments and revelations, including the very real possibility that I'm a slightly wicked child after all.
M started running around the same time that I would trot over to the park by our house. By the time I joined TNT last year, he had joined the Tri(athlon) Club and was occasionally participating in local runs and bike rides. He has often said that he started running because I started, which flatters me to no end. Today, he runs and bikes much more regularly than I have since last October.
When he came home a couple of weeks ago (the first time my parents were here) he was still in his running clothes, sweaty and flushed from his 6 mile run. My parents started oohing and ahhing over how much more fit he looked and how impressive that it was that he was becoming so active. My dad couldn't stop admiring his will power and committment. My mom kept whispering to me how much better he looked. I kept smiling, because I know my parents and knew exactly what would be coming after all this admiration. I almost had a little countdown going.
To their credit, they both held out much longer than I thought they would. On the afternoon of their second day here (less than 24 hours), they asked if I ever went running with M. "No, he's asked me, but I don't like being left behind so I don't go at all." Now, this may have been a good time to say, "No, I ran with my Team In Training group until October, when I went to semi-retirement because of my injuries." But that would have opened a whole new can of worms, explaining the fact that I hid a half marathon and one of my proudest accomplishments for so long. So I let it be. Later than night, my dad started another conversation with M, asking if he would go to Phoenix and train my brother to run. (My brother who played rugby for a few years until he injured his knee, etc. who still managed to train until he could barely stand).
"You should also take GWCH with you."
Looking at me, "Of course, running may be too much for you right now" (slowly evaluating my figure with a little sadness) "Maybe you can walk around the block a little bit, then work your way up to walking to the park..." (the park is about 3/4 of a mile from our place) "You just need to get started and maybe one day you can run, too. With a better diet, you can probably lose some weight while you're at it!" He said this with the optimism of a man who hasn't given up on his child yet, a man who is still waiting for a miracle that will provide him with stories to take home of his daughter getting up and finding her legs.
M slowly said, "I started running because of GWCH. I didn't used to run, even when my co-workers kept encouraging me to. She inspired me." (Again, big brownie points to a man who can defend and compliment me at the same time).
"Well, that was back when she was in college. I don't know if she actually ran then, probably just walked to the library and said she was running."
M opened his mouth to say he was referring to my training and the half marathon that I ran last year. I stopped him with a calm look and a smile stolen from the Cheshire cat. My running was officially my secret. You see, in the past, this conversation would reduce me to tears. I would be angry that my parents didn't think I was acceptable in some way; or the fact that they would talk about my fixing/improving myself as if I wasn't even there. I would probably even be a little angry at M for accidentally providing an opportunity for them to criticize me. But this time things were different. I am officially too old to care that I don't fit into the image of how great I could be. I have come a tiny step closer to accepting myself, flaws, pounds and all. I also have a secret that I kind of enjoy keeping. There is no need to defend myself, now that I know what I can do. I can just sit back and nod in agreement when they say it would be good if I could be motivated enough to wake up early and walk around the block. I may be a little evil to get such (perverse) joy withholding information like this from my parents, but I can't help it.