Hey Folks, this weeks Post is a little different. This week I am pumped to have a guest blogger- My Dad!
Pops has always been a rock and he’s been there every step along the way. He has written up a history of my running endeavors of sorts. Hope you like it, Thanks Dad, love ya!
It Takes a Family to Raise a Marathon Runner
Robbie D has been running for less than 24 years … he didn’t start competing seriously until he was almost 7 when he successfully completed the London, Forest City 10k. The race officials were initially reluctant to let him enter until it was brought to their attention that his 2 older brothers, Peter and Michael, had been routinely winning their age categories for several years. Robin (aka Robbie D) was soon joined on the roads by his 8 year old brother Scott as they began a serious but friendly sibling rivalry that lasted for 6 wonderful spring-summer road race seasons. They had some classic head-to-heads at the Crim Races in Flint MI, the Huron House Boys Race in Sarnia, the Port Huron to Sarnia Race, the New Hamburg 8k, the London Forest 10k and one memorial battle at a July 4th 10k event in Ottawa. Somewhere in the attic or behind the furnace at the longtime family home there is a large dusty plastic container full of plaques and medals collected along the way. Somewhere buried in that collection is the medal from a race run in the pouring rain in Sarasota, Florida where Robin captured the under 12 age category – the medals that day were handed out by John, the elder, Kelley of Boston Marathon fame. The Robin-Scott rivalry came down to speed versus focus and determination – Robin became the grinder with relentless mental toughness that quite often overcame Scott’s superior speed and style.
Family Roll Models
Even before Robin joined the chaos on the pavement he had been subjected to several years of being wakened early, forced fed a quick breakfast, packed into the back seat of the family mini-van and trucked off to a Saturday and/or Sunday morning road race. Brothers Peter and Michael were veteran road warriors of considerable early success. The expectation of running hard and winning was passed on from the older brothers to the younger pair …. from a very early age Robin wanted to run and he wanted to win. Scott didn’t feel nearly as much pressure and gave up running when he discovered girls and other distractions. Upon reflection it has become a strongly held family belief (it has grown from a mere suggestion to a theory to an unassailable belief) that the most important single event leading to Robin’s continued focus and resultant success after those early formidable years can be directly attributed to the impulsive family trip to Peter’s Big East Track & Field Championship meet held at Rutgers University when Robin was about 16. The weather was warm and sunny, there was excitement and competitive energy in the air, and Robin was exposed to a joyous gathering of several hundred physically impressive track athletes (including long legged females in shorts) having a fantastic time – what could possibly be better? Immediately, as the myth/theory/belief goes he became obsessed with eventually becoming part of that lifestyle.
The Road Leads to ??
So far the supportive parents have been to – (the first 20 or so that come to mind) - Houston, Berlin, San Diego, Sacramento, Philadelphia, Washington, Eugene (very memorable) Ottawa, Toronto, Hamilton, Guelph, Sarnia, Windsor, Terra Haute, Minneapolis, Fort Collins, Boston, Morgantown, Storrs, Flint, New Hamburg, Columbus …. The results at these venues were mixed but always memorable. The Steve Prefontaine Classic, Eugene, Oregon, June 7, 2009 was a last minute decision, and a truly magical experience, where Rob Watson – Canada delivered his fastest career Steeplechase …. sometimes just being there was the reward for past efforts such as a World Championship meet in Berlin or an NCAA Championship meets in Sacramento or Terra Haute …. other times it was the gratifying performances at a Conference Championship in San Diego or a National Championship in Ottawa or Toronto that reinforced Robin’s will to compete, and justified the sacrifice necessary to continue. We don’t spend much time remembering the difficult days – I think Robin learned that valuable trait as an oft-struggling /slump prone goalie in his hockey and soccer days.
Coaches and Family
Coming from a family including an Olympian Aunt, a CFL uncle, a World Champion cousin, a NCAA scholarship brother and a dedicated hard running mother it can be traced to the Grandmother (aka Dodie)as having provided the athletic genes. The father provided rides to the track, some financial support and the early FFTF strategy (fade from the front) which works up until you get a real coach. And nothing can diminish the support of the family fan club lead by sister-ln-law Kristin, Aunt Jill ( of Olympic background), brothers Scott, Michael and Erik (whose lack of an in-house sibling to rival leaves him as a great natural talent as of yet untested.)
Parental evaluation of coaches and opinion about coaching strategy is of very little importance and should be avoided in the best interest of the athlete – having said that I must confess that I haven’t always (actually never) adhered to that truism …. I’ve routinely given unsolicited advice but don’t expect it to be followed …. and because I personally knew some of Robin’s excellent coaches better than others (Sean Cleary of West Virginia was very important and brother Peter, now at Virginia, coached him to his fastest 2 marathons to date) it doesn’t mean that I don’t acknowledge that Robin has obviously had quality coaching at all the stops along the route or he wouldn’t be where he is now. Great work from Dave, Paul, Del, Brian and DST. Moving forward coach Rich now is at the helm with lofty goals.
Today, December 26, 2013, Robin won the Hamilton Boxing Day 10 miler in 49:52 – a successful day’s effort … it was icy, cold with a nasty wind off the lake but a good opportunity for Robin to get in a hard run and for the parents to watch their little Robbie D run faster than all those other boys.