A Father-Daughter Marathon

By Catherine and Porter Fleming

Her Story:

As long as I can remember, my Dad has run the New York City Marathon every November.  Since I was three, I wanted to run it with him.  I am now eighteen and old enough to apply.  I am excited to say that I will be running this year for a charity, Team for Kids, to raise awareness of the need for children to exercise and improve their lifestyles.

Every November, my family would gather on First Avenue by The Little Wolf Cabinet Shop (so my Dad could find us) to wait for my Dad to come up First Avenue.  He has run the New York City Marathon 15 times and he is pretty good at predicting his arrival time at 82nd and First!  He and I had a special routine where I would give him some Good & Plenty candy, a small can of Coke, and kiss to keep him going.  It was always exciting to see him but what I really wanted was to be on the other side of the police barricades running with him.  I cannot even tell you how many nursery school and lower school show-and-tells in November involved my Dad’s marathon medal, bib number, the N.Y. Times with his name or other race day souvenirs.  One boy in class, seeing the finisher’s medal, thought my Dad was the Kenyan runner who won!  Still one of our favorite family stories.

After all these years, my year is here!  I cannot wait.  People ask, will you run with your Dad?  Answer, YES!!  Have you been training together?  We have run some together but I go to a boarding school in Massachusetts so we train separately.  But if my Dad does read this, I would like to encourage him to sometimes say he is tired, sore, in pain or just complain a little bit.  Those who know him, when he runs he just keeps going…and going…and never complains!  Some complaining on his part will make me feel better.  Do it for me!

I have looked forward to my first marathon for such a long time.  It is now almost here!  It is going to be great and even greater that I am running with my Dad!!  I am ready and can not wait to experience all 26.2 of it!!!  – Catherine

His Story:

November 2014 has been on my calendar for a number of years as I knew this is when my daughter would be eighteen and could run the marathon with me.  My family has endured my marathon addiction for years as I have run NYC 15 times.  As anyone who is a marathoner, or is involved with a marathoner, knows it is months of training, sacrifice and commitment that makes it such a special adventure.

I get asked all the time which was my favorite marathon?  Clearly one’s first marathon is right up there, especially when you cross the finish line.  I have had other memorable races: when I ran for Achilles with a blind gentleman from Romania (instead of a tether I held his elbow for 26.2 miles, try running with only one arm swinging); the time I was on pace to break 3 hours (didn’t happen); or the time I got stuck in an elevator at the NY Athletic Club Sunday morning with 15+ other runners on our way to a charter bus to the Verrazano Bridge start (ended up taking a taxi cab from Central Park South through New Jersey and running over a mile to get to the start before the cannon went off).

As most marathoners will tell you, every race is its own story with unpredictable ups and downs.  However, this year I know will be more special than any of my past marathons.  To run with your child — it just sounds so cool to even say it!  Especially a child who has dreamed of running with you basically since she first understood what she was watching sitting in a stroller on First Avenue waiting for her father to come by and give her a kiss.  It will be better than great!  I am so very lucky!!

Now that I have told people that I am running with my daughter, I get asked will you be able to keep up?  I sure hope so.  My daughter is a serious athlete and has the age advantage over me, but I have done it before.  The thought of not keeping up has hit me a few times.  My wife is quick to remind me when I am debating whether I really want to get up early and go for a training run on a cold, rainy day, “you do not want to get left behind by Catherine,” needless to say I am out the door logging my miles!

I used to run 5, 6 or 7 days a week in Central Park.  As I have gotten older, I now run 3-4 days a week and have found Soulcycle on the other days.  My regular running buddies have to share me with Rique (when I can get into his class) and Emily T. (along with my fellow 6am 63rd Street Roosters!) during the week.  I am pretty sure I will be ready to keep up with my eighteen year old!

November 2nd is almost here.  It has been a long time coming.  I cannot wait to cross the finish line with my daughter — arms raised high.  I will be a very, very proud father.  What a shared experience it will have been!  I already have two picture frames for the finish line photo, one for Catherine and one for me!!  I look forward to seeing and sharing this special day with the millions of fans who will line the course and cheer this excited father-daughter team on.  It is my favorite day to be a New Yorker.  And thank you fellow New Yorkers and volunteers for making it so. – Porter


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