One day, when I was 16, my father called me into the kitchen. He motioned for me to sit at the dining-room table next to him. As I sat there, I scanned my memory for any possible action I could have done that warranted getting into trouble. I couldn't look my father in the eyes, I didn't want him to see my nervousness. As the moments went by I noticed that he was also nervous. Out of the corner of my eyes I saw him open his mouth trying to say something, then close it quickly. I knew he was trying to speak to me about something important but didn't know how to start. So I took a deep breath and quickly said, "I'm sorry for whatever I did."
My father looked startled, "You didn't do anything."
"Really? Then why am I here?"
My father blushed a little and in a cautious tone said "We need to have the talk."
This caught me off guard. I was 16 and was well aware of the birds and bees. But I sat there quietly waiting for him to proceed. "I know you understand what sex is. But you are a woman now and there is more to it then what you think. Promise me when you find yourself in the situation you will keep stuff in mind?" I nodded at him, not sure where this was going. "First never let anyone make you feel that you have to, ummm, do it. Just because everyone else is doing it doesn't mean you have to."
"Ok" I whispered.
"Be sure that you are prepared. The consequences of going into it unprepared are big. You have a lot to lose, don't risk it."
"It has to feel natural. Let it be the next step in your relationship."
I still couldn't look him in the eyes, but I could see he was holding back tears.
"Be truly in love. You want to look back on that moment and smile. You don't want to feel regret for a moment in time that is everlasting."
"Ok. Is that all?"
"If it's right you will enjoy it. You will feel excited and scared. But also happy. You will know it's right."
I sat there quietly. I was trying to take it all in. But for a 16 year old the conversation was pretty intense. I got up from the table and hugged him, grabbed my purse, and went over to my friends house. My fathers talk and intentions were sincere. And I listened. I had many boyfriends but the timing wasn't right, I wasn't ready or in love. So whenever I was in the moment with a boyfriend where the question "are you ready" was asked, I would say no. Granted, I was dumped numerous times and was called many names. But when the time did come and it was right, it all fell into place. Never have I regretted it.
Recently my fathers "first time" talk has rung true (even all these years later). But the funny thing was, it had nothing to do with sex. In January my husband started nagging me to sign up for my first marathon. And during one of our conversations I told him that I was not ready and I am not running one (yet) just because everyone else was. The hubby told me not to worry and we started to talk about something else. I had a few marathons on my "I would really love to" list, but not 100% ready I put them in the back of my mind.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago. I was sitting at my computer entering in my weekly mileage into DailyMile and something clicked inside my head. I love and respect running. I have been training hard and the next step is a longer distance. I have a long way to go but I can be prepared if I keep up with my training. This is the natural progression of my relationship with the sport.
That night at dinner I looked at my husband and said "I'm ready."
He just stared at me puzzled.
"I'm ready to register for my first marathon."
"AWESOME! Which one do you want to do?"
"I am thinking the Marine Corps"
"Are you sure you are ready for this? We can wait."
"I'm ready. It's the next step."
When registration opened, I sat there waiting patiently to sign up. When I finally saw that we were confirmed to run I was excited, nervous, happy, and ready. At that moment it hit me. Even though my father has been gone for years, his words swirled in my head. I laughed. Never did I think his "first time" advice would apply to my running. But it did. I was proud to have waited. This moment felt perfect and right, one that I will never regret. But now it's time to prepare.