Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Age, Mortality, Winning; or, my latest Wake-up Call

Sam is my 14 year old. He is the real caboose of the family, being 9 years behind his next nearest sibling. Virtually an only child in a family of 10 kids. He has a shock of shockingly red hair, freckles, and a winning smile… but now, his smile isn’t the only thing winning…

It was just a few years ago, that I would beg Sam to go run with me and his mother… “it’s too hard, it isn’t fun… etc.” I “schooled” him on the most basic of exercise activities and would be on my way back from a run when he had given up before even getting halfway…

Yesterday, I was reminded how far he has come in just a few years. He has developed a competitive attitude… he wants to do better than he did last time.

We decided at the last minute to enter the Annual July 4th Park City 5K. We got there just early enough to get our registration completed, pin our numbers on and head right to the starting line… there were about a thousand people there.

I started toward the back of the crowd explaining to Sam that being in the front wave would be counter-productive; everyone gets caught up in the moment and starts out too fast and it ends up being a stampede that I was not interested in participating in. Sam just looked at me and said, “you go ahead and go to the back, I’m staying up front…”. Wow, was that a wake-up call!

I did go to the back… I know my abilities and limitations… besides, I had my Garmin watch and I could time myself without having to be off the line at the beginning. Look, I knew Sam would “school” me time wise, but just that moment, when he asserted his independence (on Independence Day even!) to go out on his own in an event we were doing together (?), was a moment I hadn’t been looking forward to.

Don’t get me wrong, he wanted us to do this event together. He likes it when we play ball, ride, run, swim, lift, golf, water ski, snow ski, etc. together. But now, it became crystal clear that he didn’t need me to do these things with him … or at least he didn’t need me at the same starting or ending point.

And yes, he smoked me… took third in his age group and about 50th overall. Me, like all my athletic pursuits, I have simple goals… Finish, Finish Healthy, and don’t be last in my age group. I made it through each of these (and still managed to finish ahead of nearly half the crowd…).

I’ve known for a long time that he would be taller than me… (all you have to do is look at the length of his toes!) I’ve always known he would someday outperform me in many a physical test of strength, endurance, and ability. I just didn’t know that it would happen so soon, and in so many ways…

Truth is, I’m really proud of him. He hasn’t always displayed the natural gifts that many of his peers were born with, but he has kept after it and is getting better all the time. He is displaying Ambition, Assertiveness, Competitive Spirit, and a desire to do better than he did last time… That was his goal. He is achieving it. That is winning.

Getting better each outing may not be in the cards for me anymore… though I still have a bit of game left in me, but watching him progress makes my feeble attempts well worth it. I think maybe I need and want him to do things with me… For me, having Sam still wanting to do things with me, is me winning; even if it is at a different starting or endpoint.

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