In a continuation of the Inspirational Running Dad series, I want to introduce you to my good friend and fellow runner, Alex Park! Alex is married and has a ten month old son named Ethan (in the photo above). I met Alex through the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training program in 2007 while training for the 2008 Walt Disney World marathon. He immediately struck me as inspirational, as he consistently is selfless in his drive to help others and donate his time to charity. Here is his story.
How and when did you get involved in running?
I started running with Team in Training (TnT) in 2007. I received an informational flyer in the mail to join Team in Training. At about the same time, my boss’ son was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. Having lost my father cancer, I took that as too much of a coincidence to overlook so I attended the informational session.
I signed up that night to run the San Diego 1/2 Marathon. Training was going so well in Connecticut that I decided to do the full marathon. Due to a job relocation to NJ, I started training with the Northern New Jersey TnT chapter. I did not really have much intention on doing more than one event with Team in Training prior to coming to NJ. The staff, participants and coaches were so much fun, however, that I decided to become a mentor and run coach myself. I have since completed seven events with TnT, having raised approximately $50,000 in total for the charity.
What is your proudest running moment?
I would have to say right after the NYC Marathon 2012 was cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy. A few hundred runners gathered at the Staten Island Ferry to bring supplies, help clean-up efforts, and provide support to the area of New Dorp. It was a long day of moving debris, knocking down damaged drywall, delivering supplies, and helping the neighborhood to the best of our abilities. I got some hugs, made new friends, and overall made the best out of a terrible situation.
How do you inspire your kids to run and/or exercise?
Well, my son is only ten months old at this point, but it is never to early to start. I crawl around with Ethan to tire him out so he sleeps through the night. It has not really worked but its fun nonetheless. Prior to crawling…I would move Ethan’s legs in a jogging motion to relieve gas. He seemed to like it so much that he would mimic it without any coaching from me.
How are you an inspiration to others?
I don’t think I am special – if some of my energy rubs off on other people to get out and run, then I feel I accomplished my goal. (Note from Matt: He is truly being too humble, which is what makes him even more inspirational. Alex goes above and beyond when he helps others, and has helped a countless number of runners achieve their dream of running half and full marathons.)
What is your proudest parenting moment?
Seeing Ethan for the first time and hearing him take his first gasp of air. I will never forget that.
What is your funniest parenting story so far?
There really isn’t anything funny about being pooped on. What goes around…comes around…when I get old…I’ll return the favor.
What advice would you give to running dads out there?
Keep it simple. Leave the time/distance goals behind as soon as your first foot hits the pavement. Run free. Run hard. Your body will let you know when you have gone far enough. Make every “stride” and every “breath” count – time wasted on these things is time wasted away from home and your family. Balance is everything – when running is no longer enjoyable, something is out of balance.