Dads and daughters find many ways to bond. For Sara Mulhern, 32, of Alexandria, and her father John Guthleben, 63 of McKean, Pa., it's running the Marine Corps Marathon.
This will be their fifth time running the marathon together, but the first in four years. They were supposed to do it last year, but Guthleben had a heart attack.
"It's a special thing that my dad and I do together," Mulhern said.
Mulhern ran in high school and college. She enjoyed distance running and then eight years ago decided she wanted to run a marathon. Her dad was thrilled to help her.
Guthleben had run several marathons, including the Marine Corps Marathon five times, before his medical practice and raising three kids by himself took him away from it.
Although they trained separately -- she was in Virginia, he was in Pennsylvania -- they ran their first marathon together in 1997. They ran three in a row from 1999 to 2001.
"The whole marathon thing I blame totally on my father," Mulhern said.
They took a break from running the marathon after Mulhern got married and had a baby, Johnny, now 2, then decided to start up again a year ago.
Three weeks before the race, Guthleben, who has a family history of coronary heart disease, had just finished his 20-mile training run when he started to feel chest pain.
"I'm saying, 'It can't be my heart for God's sake. I just ran 20 miles,' " Guthleben said. "Well, by the time I got home, it was obvious even to me that it was."
Guthleben, who was running six weeks after his heart attack, wanted to run the marathon last year. His doctors protested, however, so Mulhern and Guthleben delayed their race.
Guthleben has run 22 and 24 miles in preparation for this year's marathon and said he feels great. Meanwhile, Mulhern had another baby, Abigail, now 4 months old. She isn't sure how well she will hold up through the race.
"Luckily for me, he runs very, very, very slow," she said.
Said Guthleben: "Little old ladies walking their dogs go by me while I'm running."
Mulhern said this will be her dad's last marathon because of his heart problems, but Guthleben isn't so sure.
"I'd keep doing it because I seriously believe it keeps me going," he said.
Mulhern and Guthleben will run the entire 26.2 miles side by side, wearing their matching orange T-shirts that say "Sweetie Pie" and "Sweetie Pie's Dad." Sweetie Pie is Guthleben's nickname for his daughter.
"That really is the only reason that I'm doing it," Mulhern said. "So that I can run with my dad."
-- Kathy Orton