Today, March 11th, 2020, my dad, Adolfo Salgueiro, Sr. is turning 82 years old.
He is still running 3-4 times a week and competing in local 5K.
The experienced runner and running coach that I am today would have not been possible without his inspiration and encouragement to get started over 40 years ago.
Still Running with My Dad After 40+ Years
My running story has been tied to my dad since its very beginning, probably in the mid-to-late 1970s, when we lived in Caracas, Venezuela. He would run starting from our home and my mom would go pick him up after a predetermined time while making sure the noted the odometer reading. I remember many times being in charge of either spotting my dad or the odometer read. I could have been as young as 10 or 11.
Soon after, my mom was not only picking up just my dad but also myself and my twin brother, Jose. Maybe we run one kilometer, maybe two, who is to know? Tough to recall 40+ years later. But somehow, we became a running family.
Living in Venezuela in the mid-70s, I knew no other road runner than my dad. This was at the time when nobody ran. When people would stop to ask if we were escaping from the police or would throw their cars at us just for the fun of seeing our reactions.
Even though my dream was becoming the first baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies, I kept running on and off with my dad. I was a junior in high school when he encouraged me to run my first 10K race, an unfathomable distance for a 16-year old. I ran a few more 5 and 10Ks here and there, but baseball was my first love and I would play it at often as possible.
1982, My Dad’s First Marathon
One day in mid-1982, my dad came back from his weekend run and stated: “I am going to run the New York City Marathon”. We all thought he finally lost his marbles, paid not much attention and let him enjoy his delusion. But, long story short, on October 24, he took the start at the Verrazano and finished in 4:36:37. He was the first person I ever knew to run a marathon. I couldn’t believe it. My dad ran a marathon!
The Caracas Marathon
A month or so later, the Caracas Marathon has held in my hometown and my dad went to the 30k mark to meet a friend and run him in (it wasn’t frowned upon then). I went, too and was amazed by what I saw. I jumped in and ran the last 12k, where I saw first-hand the emotions, the suffering, the effort, the triumph. So, I told my dad: “One day, I will run one of these”.
1983, My First Marathon
Seven weeks later I was in front of the Orange Bowl Stadium in Miami lining up for the start of the 1983 Orange Bowl Marathon. Even Bill Rodgers was there. I was still a Senior in high school! I was 17!
My dad held me back when I wanted to surge, he reminded me to drink water, brought me back to focus when I got distracted by a hot girl running in front of us, etc. As planned, at 35K, each man was on his own and he left me in the dust. I struggled the last 7K, cursing my bad judgement for wanting to do this stupid thing. I limped into the stadium only to see my Dad with a big smile, cheering me up and letting me know he went sub-4. I went around the track, crossed the finish line and collapsed in my dad’s arms. He was so proud of me. The only words I could muster were: “when are we doing the next one?”.
The answer came rather soon. 10 months later we were both lining up in front of the Verrazano at the 1983 NYC Marathon. On December 1984 we both set up PRs in the Caracas Marathon. He ran 3:47 and I ran 3:32. In December 1985, once again we ran the Caracas Marathon. Then life and injuries got on my way, but he kept going for another 30+ years. He ran a handful more marathons and even set a PR of 3:43. When for his 30th birthday, my twin brother wanted to run New York, my dad trained with him and at 57, ran his last marathon. My dad beat my brother by 3 minutes or so.
Coming Back to Running
After a 27-year absence, I came back to road racing in 2012 at the Miami Half Marathon. As I picked up my race kit, I was so happy, in disbelief of what I was about to do after such a long time. My mind went back to running with my dad all those years ago, enough that I even sent him my race shirt with a message thanking him for initiating me in this wonderful sport.
Through the years, there have been many more running experiences. In December 2012, we had the opportunity of running my dad, myself and my son, all three of us named Adolfo Salgueiro, in a 10K race in Miami Beach, where we finished all three together.
In November 2016, we did that again. The he turned eighty, 18 family members accompanied him completing a 5K race, in which the race director was gracious enough to hold number 80 for him. Last February I ran a 5K race with him, at his pace, and we crossed the finish line holding hands.
I don’t know how many more chances I will have to share races with my dad, but what I do know is that I plan to keep running as long as the good Lord keeps me around. And as this happens, it will be thanks to my dad initiating me in the sport, over 40 years ago, even when my favorite sport was baseball.