Role models and motivators come in all shapes and sizes. For Hive athlete Jessica Racioppo, her dad motivates and inspires her to run. Also a Hive athlete, her dad Mike Racioppo started running when Jessica was a young girl. Seeing her dad race his first marathon sparked a dream in Jessica to run a marathon with him one day. It took a bit of time before she was ready, but with the support of her dad every step of the way, Jessica began her running journey.
In honor of Father’s Day, Jessica shares with Honey Stinger how her dad helped her fall in love with running by exceeding the role of a father figure, becoming a true friend and running coach and partner.
Many years ago, my Dad ran his first New York City Marathon while I cheered him on from the sidelines. From the moment he waved at me with the biggest smile on his face on that busy street in Brooklyn, I had the desire to run that marathon with him one day. When I was younger I told this to my family, but I never imagined I would ever be able to run a mile, let alone a marathon. My Dad supported me and told me that I could do whatever I set my mind to. He never pushed me to run, but gave me the confidence I needed to pursue running if I ever chose to, which is one of the greatest thing he has ever done.
Three years ago, I finally decided to start running. When I told my Dad, he immediately bought me a pair of running shoes and took me for a run. Once I started I was hooked, quickly increasing my goals from running a half marathon to a 50 miler!
Race Partner and Trainer
I have seen my Dad race various distances up to 100 miles, and I decided I wanted to be just like him. Every step of they way my Dad was there. No matter how trained or how fast he could go, he would always run with me at my pace, showing his selflessness and true love of the sport. He truly just wants to have a good time and run. Over these past three years of my life, my Dad has been my personal trainer, my best friend, my nutritionist, and my inspiration.
Although my Dad and I see all the races we run together as accomplishments, I have found our 2018 NYC Marathon finish and our NFEC NY 50 Miler finish to be the most noteworthy. For both these events, my Dad and I shared the goal to run my first NYC marathon and 50 miler together. We spent countless hours and miles training side by side through sunshine or snow, and waking up at the earliest of hours. We managed to always laugh and enjoy every moment together. Having my Dad by my side to share the joys and pains of running together is the most meaningful experiences I can ever ask for.
I am incredibly fortunate to be able to say that my Dad is my best friend, and we both have the same mindset and passion for endurance running. Especially when running ultras, I have see views of nature that others may never see, pushed myself to limits that once seemed impossible, experienced the highest of highs and lowest of lows, and embraced a whole lot of pain. After experiencing these feelings myself, I have grown a whole new level of respect for my Dad. Prior to running, I could never quite grasp what running meant to him until I ran these distances myself. My Dad is quite astonishing if you ask me! Now, I am even more blessed to grow and evolve with my Dad’s running, bonding with him as we both do what we love.
My Dad says that as a runner myself, I have influenced him with my great determination and aspiration to never quit, stating that I made him a stronger athlete and a better person. However, I attest that it is the other way around for me. My Dad has led me to evolve into a new person by sharing his passion with me, allowing me to gain a more positive perspective on life and enjoying what life really has to offer. He showed me that even when the miles get long and the weather gets bad, it doesn’t always have to be about the running and performing, but about spending time together and having fun.
I was always close with my Dad, but I have found that running with him has greatly strengthened our relationship. I cannot wait to see what the future has in store for us. We both plan on continuing to run together as much as possible (side by side) training and racing, and he also wants to run my first 100 mile race with me! For now, I am honored that he has asked me to pace him for his sixth Vermont 100 in July!
Keep Up with Jessica and Her Dad