here's the thing.

Back in August I wrote this thing.

It was a very meaningful thing for me, something I fully intended to write even if the only eyes that ever saw it were my own and those belonging to my daughters and my wife.

Meghan Hicks, a much more gifted writer than myself and a talented editor to boot, encouraged me to share the thing with others.  On August 21, iRunFar published it and I held my breath:

www.irunfar.com - Why do you have to run so much?

The entire experience proved immensely rewarding as the responses were immediate and overwhelmingly positive.  Meghan's spot-on spidey senses were correct and, incredibly, the piece seemed to resonate with many other reader-runners.

I cherished and continue to cherish every kind word and empathetic comment, text and e-mail message, but, of course, it was the few less-than-positive responses that lingered and made me examine my own motivations and question whether or not I was actually being the parent I so wish to be.

As was intended, in that the article really was a letter written directly to Lily in response to a question raised on the immediate heels of one miserably long weekend during which she and Piper Bea were shuttled from one distant checkpoint to another by my well-meaning mother and stepfather while getting too little sleep ahead of a long week of kindergarten, the piece was entirely without further context for outside readers.

Anyone reading the letter was free, for better or worse, to draw her or his own conclusions as to who I am, how the Lutz family interacts (or doesn't) and just how much or little time I actually spend with my children.  Transport the letter off into the landscape of very different familial experiences and another cast of characters and it easily reads as a potentially hollow, get-out-of-jail-free excuse for never, ever being there, a "here's your answer" missive to be pulled later from the time capsule as explanation for the father Lily and Piper never knew.

But, an "absentee father", I can report with clear conscience, I am not.

My daughters know their father intimately and as a very much present feature in their everyday existence.  Yes, I spend time running, but most of that occurs in the dead of night or in the earliest of mornings while my two girls slumber blissfully, secure in the knowledge that mine will be the first face, as it nearly always is, to greet them with a smile when they awake.

Additionally, both Lily and Piper are enthusiastic supporters of my running and, whether out of want to please their father or because of their own genuine "when I grow up" plannings, they spend a good bit of time asking me when they are going to get to race on trails and if, one day, they can run "up" mountains with me.  On most mornings, one of the first questions out of their mouths is "did you go running?" and, if my answer is "yes", they demand plentiful, vivid details.  I'm also constantly peppered with inquiries of when and where they'll next get to see Kelly, Jo, Derek, J.C. or any number of our other "running friends" even if their shyness will take over when the next meetings occur.

Lily, constantly drawing and practicing her penmanship and storytelling, often references running in her journal writing, as evidenced by these recent entries:

Just in case you didn't recognize me by the flat head and markedly Abyssinian beard, I'm the one on the right.  The four-legged companion on the left is Mammie, a/k/a Sugar Pie.  A beloved member of the family of our friends, Sugar Pie, due to circumstances not tied to her behavior or good standing, was in need of a new loving home.

We've had a number of bumps in our road to find a pet to fill the void created by the passing of our dear Clouseau back in the summer of 2011:

After a recent bad experience, I rather firmly decided that we were going to remain dog-less for the foreseeable future rather than adopt/rescue the next cute puppy that we stumbled upon only to find that there were any number of reasons why the dog was a poor fit for our home.  It wasn't fair to us and it certainly wasn't fair to the dogs.

Then along came Sugar Pie.

We could immediately see why our friends had been so fond of her and why they were sad that they didn't have a solution for keeping her.  She was calm and gentle, loving but not overwhelmingly so.  We found we could trust her in the backyard and her iron bladder proved trustworthy in the house.  We didn't have to run sweeps of the entire house to make sure that any and all chewable targets were out of sight.

Most importantly she was just a sweet, reassuring and comfortable addition to the family.

And, yes, she could run...LOVED to run.

I struggled to keep up with her but enjoyed every second of the challenge.  She also shared valuable lessons in recovery, starting as soon as we were done and maintaining that discipline until it was time for the next outing.

And Lil could run too, it turned out.

She finished the Manheim Central Run for Fitness and collected a ribbon that she first accepted reluctantly, having finished in the middle of the pack just like her daddy, but later showed off proudly.

And I proudly showed off the ribbon (and Lily) too!

The same person who accused me of being absent rather pointedly suggested that I had written the iRF article in order to feel better about missing my kids childhood.  If I were in fact trading their childhood for time spent in the woods, there couldn't possibly be any writing, saying or doing of anything that could make up for that inexcusable failing.

Here's the thing...

...thankfully, I'm here, right here, taking part in every new twist and turn in our travels together...and excited for whatever comes next.


  1. I loved this and am glad you wrote it. You're an amazing parent and your family is packed with love. You and Lindsay are doing a fantastic job raising your girls and they're truly blessed to be born into your family.

    1. We're doing our best and, every once in a while, it seems like enough. Never enough to NOT keep trying harder, but I suppose that's the point. Our home is as packed with love as it is because of it including such awesome extended family members. Love you, man.