Last Saturday, my son ran the Ukrops Monument Avenue 10k for the first time. He’s 13 and my adventure/adrenaline seeker. Truly fearless. He thinks he can do anything. He’s usually right. I adore him.
My husband, father and I ran as well. Despite our seeded wave times, we all started together with Will. There were nearly 30,000 people in that race. That’s a lot of fish to get lost amongst. Brave, baby fish included. He’s very independent but I’m still mama and like to keep a watchful eye. I knew he’d outrun me, but I also let him know that if he couldn’t, I wouldn’t leave him behind. Although I had a goal time in mind, I would sacrifice that any day for the sake of my child. He is all that matters.
The race started, everyone took off. Unsurprisingly, my husband and Will pulled ahead, running together. It was unclear who was running with whom at that point (was he running with his dad, or vice versa?) but I was glad they were together. I settled into my own, much slower pace. To my surprise, my dad settled into my pace too. He is much faster than all of us, but he had mentioned he thought this race would be slower, due to some recent health hiccups and a hip that should really be replaced. I encouraged him to go ahead, that I was fine, and he waved me off. Though we became separated a couple times, we always managed to catch up with each other. I wondered if he was feeling sorry for me, not wanting to leave me behind. But it was nice to have that presence beside me – solid, watchful, encouraging, comforting. You know, all the things dads are supposed to be. I then decided he must have decided to take it easy that day and I was a good pace for that. I could handle that.
It was a parent/child race for this family.
Around mile 5, Will pulled ahead.
Around mile 5, I fell behind.
My husband told me later that Will turned to him and asked if he could go, then sprinted off to finish a good minute ahead of his dad. While my husband was pleased and proud, he said he was a little sad to see him go. It had been thrilling to run with his child, to just be with each other for this race.
As for me, I had loosened my left shoe, due to a bruise on the top of my foot. After completing 5 miles, my shoe was almost falling off. It had to be dealt with. I pulled to the side, and motioned for my dad to go ahead. No point in him stopping too. The look on his face - in that second, I knew. It had been thrilling to run with his child, to just be with each other for this race.
I sprinted the last mile trying to make up for lost time, but also hoping to catch up with him and finish what we had started.
My mother is always telling me you never stop being someone’s parent. Whether your child is 13 or 44.
You also never stop being someone’s child.
Whether you are 13 or 44.