OOFOS: Fill us in on your history with running. When did you start running and did your dad have anything to do with this?
Nadia: I started running when I joined community boxing for the first time while in middle school. My coach saw that I could run lap after lap, so in high school I joined the Cross Country team my freshman year at age 14. I fell in love with the feeling that running and pushing myself to reach my best felt like, so I signed up for my first marathon that year without knowing what I was doing. I didn't train properly not running more than six miles, but when my dad heard I signed up for my first marathon, he joined me. He started running at age 40 with me and we have been running ever since.
OOFOS: How has running affected your relationship with your dad?
Nadia: Growing up, my dad and I were always close prior to running. I would shadow him at work sometimes and spend time with him on the weekends while he was at the coffee shop reading or exploring the home development warehouses thinking of creative things to change the family home. I was always intrigued to learn and I always felt my dad challenged himself to learn so I wanted to always be around that. It grew our relationship close and encouraged me to always be the best I can be as a student and then athlete. Running was another element that we both grew to love and I'm grateful that I can still share it with my 60 year-old father. He coined the phrase: "Team Mala Vida" for us to describe how much we simply love the good pain we feel when we run marathons. We have both slowed down, however, every mile is still as special as the first. Seeing my dad smile when he runs reminds me every time how important it is to never let that inner child be silent.
OOFOS: What is one of your favorite memories that you've shared with your dad?
Nadia: There are so many fond memories with my dad that it is so hard to narrow it down to one. I feel that our time on this planet is a gift and we are all the storytellers of our lives, so we need to take that opportunity and do what it takes to create those memories that touch our soul on a daily basis. For me, it's seeing someone I love smile, laugh, and be at peace. Both my parents are very hard-working individuals who immigrated to this country 34 years ago leaving everything behind. Therefore, when we pause to smile, those moments are the best.
Running my first marathon with my dad crossing the finish line hand in hand in tears touches my soul. Running my first Ironman crossing the finish line and running into my dad's arms first not saying a word, but feeling: "Dad, I did it. My childhood dream when I was 12. I am now an Ironman and I did this for you." because just a month before this, he was diagnosed with cancer and underwent surgery. Running my 100th marathon with my dad side-by-side on Father's day in 2013 again hand in hand in tears -- this time because my dad recently lost his father. It was a reminder how precious time and fathers can be. To this day, twenty years later we continue to share running memories together and I give thanks he is a cancer survivor.
OOFOS: What is one quality in your dad that you aspire to imitate?
Nadia: He is a lifelong self-educated learner. He reads endlessly. If he doesn't know the answer, he will try to do what he can to learn. I saw this from as far as I can remember and he still does it in his senior years. I learned to love, learn, and teach by watching my father as I grew up.
OOFOS: Does your dad have any particular recovery techniques? (not only for running but any physical, emotional, mental recovery...)
Nadia: My father is a very mentally strong man so I never saw him take his recovery or rest seriously. As he grew older, I saw it take a toll; therefore, I knew he was a person who didn't take self-care seriously. I made it a point to ensure that recovery and rest was important. I bought his first pair of OOFOS and he loved how it protected his joints as it minimized impact. I recently gifted him the exclusive Boston 2018 OOFOS and he wears those proudly to the pool when he goes for a short swim.
. . . . .
From Nadia's father:
I run because it is within my Ecuadorian blood and heart. I walked long distances as a child as part of growing up. Around the age of 10, I was walking and saw a kid's track competition taking place on a track. I was asked to join. I joined with my worn-out, non-running shoes -- and won. I walked away with a new pair of running shoes as a prize and it has been a reminder to this day to keep running. Each time I get to share a run with my daughter, it reminds me of my childhood and that joy I felt. Running has given me the opportunity to share moments with my daughter even as I have grown into my senior years.
For more from the lovely Nadia Ruiz, check out @irongirlnadia on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook!