This post was first published on 1 August, 2010. Given that I’ve started my half marathon training, it’s timely to look back and see how far I’ve come. Dave would be looking down, smiling to himself and saying: I can’t believe she’s still running!
Dave Fitzsimons died on 7 September 2008, from non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Today I walked 5 kilometres to honour his memory.
Dave was one of the nicest, warmest, most empathetic human beings I have ever known. I knew him as my manager, a client and my friend. When you talked to him, he made you feel like you were the only person in the world who mattered. He always had time for a coffee and a chat; he was always interested in what I was up to.
I didn’t know he was an Olympic athlete until I had known him for quite some time. He went to Montreal and Moscow as a long distance runner: and he still holds records in South Australia. But it was like him to downplay his amazing athletic achievements.
His leukemia was a shock to us all, and probably, most of all to him. I can imagine that if you’d put that much effort into your fitness, you would feel betrayed by your own body. The good thing, if there is such a scenario, is that he went quickly, and within a year of his diagnosis. I went to his funeral. I don’t think the church where it was held had seen that many people attend a service in years. His son, John, spoke about his father, devastated by a life cut short. He was a young 58.
Dave’s final words to his son were: “Do some living for me”.
Well, Dave, I intend to honour your request. And that’s one of the reasons I walked today in weather that can best be described as crap. Athletics SA ran the inaugural Fitzy’s 5 as a way to pay tribute to you, your favourite race and to raise money for cancer research. You would have been humbled, surprised and grateful at the number of people who attended, some who knew you, some who didn’t.
I walked the course today, but I’ve set myself a challenge: to run the whole 5 kms next year. You are the only person I would do this for. Just like you are probably one of the only people who would have gotten me up and out of bed at 6am on a Sunday to walk 5 kms in a gale.
Dave, I’m trying to do some living for you. I hope I make you proud.
Update: I now run between three and five kilometres, three or four times a week. Dave, you were the inspiration I needed to get moving.