I wasn't sure how to call withdrawing from my first ever marathon anything but a failure.
I failed my daughters, I failed myself and I failed all the people with all the cool signs who litter the Ottawa Race Weekend marathon course as people young and old run their 26-mile challenge without me.
My body, plain and simple, wasn't ready to take on the challenge. I followed my marathon training plan as best I could, and, one Sunday before my 35th birthday, went for an 18-mile run. I ran all 18 miles and have run twice since... with a combined distance of less than one mile. My Achilles tendon hasn't been the same since that run.
So, it seems like I'm a quitter.
For weeks I left it to heal itself, knowing that if I went to physiotherapy, they'd never allow me to continue to train. I tried twice to see if I could resume running and came back walking each time. I threw my headphones; I threw my shoes; I acted petulantly, because at 35, I wasn't supposed to be too old to do anything I really wanted to do.
"I'll just run it anyway and if I ruin my foot forever, so be it," I told my wife when in one of my moods. It was a stupid statement then and it's a stupid statement now.
So, I was a quitter with the attitude of an angry 5-year-old.
Then a group of dad bloggers with the voices of the Daddy Files' Aaron Gouveia and How To Be A Dad's Charlie Capen at the forefront proposed an idea to honor Boston Marathon bombing victims: What we're asking is that in the week leading up to Marathon Monday, you get out there and run. I don't care if it's a quarter-mile or a marathon, get out there and run in memory of everyone impacted by the awful events that day. And while you're doing it, snap a picture. Of yourself, the landscape, a homemade sign... doesn't matter. Take a picture and post it with the hashtag #DadsRun4Boston.
That, I thought to myself, is how I can turn my failure into a success. If on this go-around I make it 800 meters, well then that's how far I made it. But at least I can do it for a reason. There's no need to get angry at myself for having a bad left Achilles and there's no reason to think my marathon dream is over just because I won't be running one on May 25. There will be next May and another marathon. Or the May after that, or another marathon after that.
I'll happily be one of the many people, dads or otherwise, who do something this week to remember the victims of a year ago and to recognize the resilience they've shown in overcoming much bigger obstacles than mine.
I don't think my kids are going to look at me as a failure if I don't run this May, but they may look at me as a quitter if I let this one moment become so big that it keeps me from trying again. That seems to be what #DadsRun4Boston, and more importantly, the resilient victims from last year, are about -- not quitting.
That's something I'd be happy to have my daughters see in me.