Not being an intensively emotive person, I can sometimes be surprised when I am gripped by strong feelings especially when they are not anticipated.
My 9-year-old insisted on running a 5k race. While 2k races are usually free and he can manage to place well within his age range, he has been asking for more of a challenge. This has been tricky as most registering sites will not allow giffers his age run that far. I think because I phoned in his registration, we slipped by.
This didn’t dissuade my concerns about him running this distance and given that I wouldn’t be able to pace him. My fear was that in the energy of the moment, he’d start too fast, burn–out and crash in despair. He is a rather emotive child.
So, he lined up vibrating with excitement along with about 200 hundred others, mostly adults and teenagers. I ran ahead, but found it really hard to spot him in the mob. About 10 minutes later my 10k group jumped off, and at about 3k, the leaders of the 5k race came flying down the opposite side of the road, led by Ethiopians and national speedsters. I realized my son and I would pass each other and so I began scanning in earnest for his skinny form.
And sure enough a few minutes later I spotted him, with his Canadian Olympic t-shirt and headband with all the intensity of a warrior and no lack of speed. I held out my arm indicating that I wanted to give him a high-five, he put out his without changing his warrior’s grimace, and gave me a firm smack. In that moment my whole body flushed with joy and pride; I could have nearly cried.
Seeing him racing against himself with such focus and intensity, knowing how hard it was at that point and how tired he must have felt, inspired me to dig a little deeper, to be stronger, to be faster.
Of course, he met me at the finish line, literally glowing with accomplishment and pride, wearing his medal. He was full of tales of what went on in those short but intense 27 minutes in a way that only a runner can do: what he saw, what he felt and how he surprised himself.
The closest age category was the 15-year-old males and even amongst them he scored a 28th place finish; even he was pleased.
We hadn’t even left the race grounds before he was asking about the next one, which is exactly how I felt.