Friday, November 28, 2008

Finish The Race: Adventures in the Turkey Trot and Life

For the last 3 years, my oldest son and I have participated in the local home owner's association Turkey Trot Thanksgiving morning. The temperatures are usually pretty cold and when I noticed this year's temps were about 10 degrees higher I was thrilled at the prospect of a warmer run.

This year A and I "trained" a bit harder and made a conscious effort to not only increase our weekly runs (A actually got up with me a few times at 5am to take a run) but to decrease our times. We set a goal of sub 24 minutes on the 5K which is 3 minutes less than his last year's performance. At 12 years old that's a pretty aggressive time at at 35 and not terribly dedicated, it's likewise aggressive but doable.

We took a different approach to this year's race, however, and elected not to register in the race but merely ran with the pack and timed ourselves. I offer A a $20 reward if he could beat the goal and we saved ourselves $40 in registration fees (read tightening up our financial belts).

We began the race with a strong pace and I led out for about a minute but A would have none of that and quickly overtook me and never looked back. By the halfway point I bailed out altogether, something I've never done before, and waited for him to double back on the course for the final 1/3 mile to the finish. With A leading as much as he was, I knew if he were to obtain his goal I'd need to push him to the finish line and I'm glad I met him where I did.

At 20.5 minutes, he had to keep pushing himself to the end or he'd miss the goal. He kept telling me he was going to puke, he was ready to give up and didn't care about the goal anymore. I kept reminding him of the goal, that he was almost finished and that it was worth $20. An older guy, my age, passed him and I jokingly remarked that A shouldn't let an old guy pass him here at the end to which the old guy began his encouragement of my son. He poured it on to the end, passed the man, and crossed the finish line at 23 minutes 4 seconds, shattering last year's time by over 4 minutes.

Side note: When he crossed the finish line the judges kept looking for his running number so that they could record his time and rank him in his respective age group and gender. I informed them that we weren't competing to which they awarded him a participation medal anyway.

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While I'm highly disappointed in my quitting, I'm extremely pleased with my son's persistence and his crossing over from being pushed by his dad to finish the race to leading his dad in endurance and speed. Hopefully from this experience he'll see how effort and motivation, along with having the right people cheering you on, in life can have successful outcomes. Isn't that what life is about? Finishing the race when it's so easy to give up? Unfortunately I now know both sides of the fence and can tell you from my personal disappointment that I only want to ever be on the having endured side of the fence and will hopefully be there with my son. Well done A!
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