8/10 Women Wear the Wrong Size Bra… Do You?
It’s back for 2013 and better than ever!
So there we stood, my son Colter and I, at a crossroads. And by that I mean quite literally, the trail branching off in two different directions. To the right, the race course for the NMTC Hartley run – the pink ribbons begging one further into the woods and across a marsh area before taking a sweeping loop to the finish line. To the left, a trail that led directly back to the nature center from which the race started.
I could tell he was good and tired, having already covered over 3 miles of trail that bent up and down and twisted around like it had been laid out by a drunken sailor. His 11-year-old legs were feeling it. It was his call, I told him – and either answer was perfectly acceptable – right or left? Then I stood silently as he pondered his options…
Frankly, this dilemma was not part of the original plan. Clear skies and coolish temperatures that morning promised a beautiful day to be out and about, and the final NMTC trail race of the year was on the calendar, with a pot-luck dinner to follow. A quick glance at the race web site earlier in the week had indicated 5K was on the docket. 5K? Pretty short… perhaps a nice day to take my son, and have him join me for a jaunt through the woods.
When I broached the subject with Colter, his ears perked up at the mention of those golden words, “pot luck dinner”. Even at his young age, he’s caught on to the fact that such dinners are comprised of approximately 60% desserts. He had to earn his eats though, I told him, which entailed running the trail race. His quick bit of mental math determined 5K for copious brownies was a fair trade – and he was in.
So, it was a bit of a surprise when we arrived at Hartley Nature Center and learned the race had been upped to a 10K. Colter’s face registered instant trepidation. The comfort zone had been breached… Now, Colter is not a runner in a sense that includes training, running regular races, and the like. It’s just not a big blip on his radar at the moment. That being said, he’s not a couch potato either. He plays basketball, baseball, downhill ski races – we get out and about. We figured he could work his way through 5K, but 6+ miles of trail work? Hmmm. Not wanting this to come off like the ol’ bait-and-switch, I told him simply, let’s just go run – get about 5K in as we previously agreed and make a call at that point. That seemed reasonable to him. So when the crowd burst from the starting line, off we went.
Obviously I’m not entirely objective, but I was impressed with the fashion in which he knocked out the trail, at times I even had to tell him to relax a bit and save some gas in the tank. He was steady, relentless. But trail running is what it is, and as he ticked past 3 rolling, twisting miles on untrained legs the whole “over the river and through the woods” thing was taking its toll. Until, finally, we arrived at the crossroads. He was tired, and said as much. But there was something else there…
Colter stood for some moments, and I could see the gears turning. Left, pain over. Right, more hills, rocks and roots, dog-tiring – but an official finish. Then… I saw The Look. That look I’ve seen on ultra-running colleagues deep in races. It’s the “Let’s just finish this [bleeping] thing!” look. (No, he didn’t say it – but if he had I wouldn’t have made him put a quarter in the swear jar. Though I might have asked him not to tell his mom.) He turned and headed off following the pink ribbons. A few grind-it-out miles later as we neared the finish, I asked him if he had anything left – and he answered by sprinting in, finishing his first 10K like an Olympic medal was to be had. I’m not sure which of us was beaming more broadly as we crossed the line.
It was a Proud Papa moment for certain. But though it was golden, I still have no idea if running will become a beloved pastime to my son as it has for me. They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. True in some cases, I suppose. But for all I know this apple may hit the ground, roll down an embankment and end up in the field next door. That’s OK, he’s young – and as we mature we’re all entitled to map our own paths. I figure my job at this point is to keep filling his toolbox with experiences, lead by example and give him opportunities to accomplish things that initially seem out of reach. I won’t dictate his map, but that doesn’t preclude me from lending him a compass.
And who knows? Maybe someday he’ll be looking for an outlet, he’ll reach into that toolbox – and it will ultimately lead him to crossing the finish line of his first ultramarathon. Perhaps he’ll catch his breath, pause and quietly say, “Thanks, Dad.” With any luck the gentleman that finishes right behind him will respond, “No thanks necessary, son. We’re even.” When it comes to inspiration, we always have been.