Running with Memories of My Dad

Dad at the beach

My Dad died Christmas Eve of last year. George Orin Thomasson was 75 years of age. Skin cancer.  Ironic this photo was taken at the beach. No, I don’t know if he is wearing sun screen. My Dad should have been a trail runner. He would have liked it. Running through the woods, surrounded by nature.

I think of my Dad at odd times. Little things pop up here or there that make me think of him or remind me of similarities between the two of us. Today was one of those times as I was running on a trail, about 8 miles in to an 18 mile run. It stormed last night and the trail was wet, muddy a good bit of the way, but easily passable. As I was coming up on a little culvert, I spooked some small critter that scampered in to the little pipe at the bottom of the culvert. It happened quickly, to quickly for me to get a good look and figure out what it was.

It was a gnome. Yeah, that’s the first thing that came to mind. Not chipmunk, mouse, squirrel or any of the other logical choices. I don’t believe in gnomes, fairies, trolls, goblins or any other manner of fairy tale creature, but my Dad wanted them to be true and his desire for wood fairies and bridge trolls to be real, perhaps rubbed off on me. There I am running through the woods in Mississippi mentally connecting unrecognisable animals to gnomes and my Dad. That’s when I decided my Dad should have been a trail runner. He flirted with running I think at some point in his life. I remember some Adidas running shoes, red I think. I was born in Gainesville, FL and lived there until I was 5 years old. Frank Shorter, the great American runner lived and trained there. This was 1966 through 1971. Shorter was the #1 ranked marathoner in the world in 1971 and was living in Gainesville pursuing a law degree and training. My Dad knew who he was because I remember him telling me. Maybe this was something he read in the newspaper or knew because he worked for the University of Florida. Maybe secretly a part of him was interested in running.

me and DadWhen I was still a kid, my parents divorced and my Dad left us in Georgia and moved to Colorado. We would visit him summers and at Christmas and he’d take us outdoors. Snow skiing, hiking, the reservoir; He liked the outdoors and from what I knew he respected the beauty of nature and knew the potential for danger. We didn’t do a lot of hiking and I never really understood hiking like I understand running. Maybe my Dad would have preferred to walk. Gives you a better chance of seeing the gnomes before they see you.