My dad died in November 2015, following a brief battle with CJD.
It is unclear to us how long CJD had been affecting his actions and thoughts (so I’m not certain whether he was in his right mind), when he confided in me in July 2015 that he was going to run Milwaukee’s Lakefront Marathon on October 2, 2016.
What?! He hadn’t run in YEARS. He had never been a competitive runner. Aside from coaching high school track in 1980-something.
But I was excited. The infamous Rick Riehl was taking up MY hobby! Or, at the very least, expressing interest in it.
Every year Concordia University and the University of Milwaukee (and now Marquette University as well) build teams of students and staff to compete against one another in the Lakefront Marathon. He was going to join Concordia’s team and run alongside fellow staff members.
I animatedly told him if he was serious, he needed to start training RIGHT AWAY. And get new shoes! A year ago. One must build up a base of mileage before tackling a marathon training program, which itself would take about four months. It was time to start.
Little did I know that in a month or so he’d be too unsteady to walk on his own, let alone run. But my mom tells me that before that happened, he had gone out for a few runs. She hadn’t known what to make of it, because apparently he didn’t tell her his plans.
A few months ago, I reached out to the person in charge of Concordia’s team for the marathon and asked if I could run on their team, in lieu of my dad. He said my dad had also talked to him about doing the race, and that it was a great idea. I signed up.
And have been training since the beginning of summer. At first it wasn’t too bad; I’m used to training for half marathons and the mileage was reasonably low.
But now shit’s started to get Riehl.
I “sprinted” EIGHT 800’s on Monday for speed work, ran an 8-mile tempo run last night, and am gearing up for a half marathon plus 4-mile warm-up on Saturday to take the monotony out of the 17-mile training run I have to do. I eat everything in sight. I want to sleep all the time.
I’m EXHAUSTED! But not willing to give up.
I’ll do this, dad.