Notes from Rachel: On What We Inherit

I don’t actually know who I got curly hair from. But as soon as people look at me who know my family they exclaim, “well don’t you look like your dad!”

Thanks, everyone. I’m not sure whether being told you look like your dad is a compliment, but then I look at my knees: Dad. My hands: Mom. Chin: Dad. Nose: up for discussion.

Now that I’m through the darkness torrential time of my late teens, I have gobs of time to reflect on what I’ve been given, who gave it to me, and what to do with it.

Rachel and her dad

I was given a love for running. My dad gave it to me. I have distinct memories of my dad returning from runs, covered in mosquitoes that had been caught in the hurtling, sweating train that is my father. That’s the image. But then there hung the general mood of satisfaction and exhaustion in the air around him. I don’t have a picture of that, but I took it and made it mine. 

Within this love for running is the practice of discipline, of how to greet suffering by running into it and then through it. It’s what other runners call the “pain cave.” This location within the practice of running is spiritual because it’s beyond the self saying yes and it’s digging into the self saying no and pushing back on that no.

Rachel and her dad

Why do I write this to you? I know Steve Welty is not your dad.

What was planted by my dad became mine and took a different form: I’ve made a career from it, my dad didn’t. I run on trails, my dad prefers the sizzling Houston concrete. And my dad has now admitted to me that running is, in his opinion, garden variety torture. We have arrived at different reasons for why we do it.

Where did you come from to arrive at running? Frank Shorter had an abusive father and ran to rise above that pattern. I know women who have run to move through an eating disorder, forcing themselves to run, and then to eat. I heard a podcast about a woman who developed chronic seizures and started running because it was the only thing that prevented them. Running is a sport for the addicted, abused, broken, and burned. And that is why I love it.

Join our family: did you know we host a Potluck Run at our Vancouver store on the third Tuesday of every month? Challenge yourself to the pain cave: sign up for one of our upcoming training groups. Come in and ask us about product: we know the ins and outs of new shoes out from Hoka and New Balance this month.

Running is yours for the taking.

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