This week Dr. Kimball sent me an email explaining his running story. Here it is in his own words.
In 1979 as a first year medical student I ran my first marathon and experienced such pain that I swore I would never run another marathon again. It’s funny how seemingly deep convictions can change dramatically so. This year I am registered to run my 16th Pig, my 70th marathon and my 50th state marathon.
In 1999, 20 years after my marathon proclamation, one night I received an alarming phone call from my mother in Oakland, California. “Tom, you better sit down.” I thought to myself, “no need to sit down, Mom is going to tell me that Grandma had passed”. This would actually be a blessing since for the past years she had been in a vegetative state. She went on, “It’s your father”. I sat down. “He’s had a major stroke. He’s been admitted to the intensive care unit, on a ventilator and is unresponsive. They are only keeping him alive until you and your sister can get to Oakland to say your goodbyes”. I trembled and started sobbing. The next morning I was by his bedside saying goodbye and taking him off the ventilator only to see his heart beat its last few beats.
My father had been the essence of health and vitality. He WAS a runner and at 69 years old he still could give me a good competitive match on the tennis court. He ran his daily run in the Oakland hills and each summer he would go on backpacking trips in the Sierra Nevada with his buddies. His death was too sudden…too premature…not understandable.
On that 1979 marathon Sunday in San Francisco, he and my mom supported me with water and snacks (there were no aid stations back then). As he handed me a cup of water at one point in the race, I could see in my Dad’s face that he was living vicariously through me. He wanted to run in that race. He wanted to immerse himself in the marathon experience. Yet, he never got the chance.