Last week I saw my son cross the finish line first in his cross country meet at the league finals. The second place runner was nine seconds behind him. It was beautiful.
More importantly than being proud of him, I was happy for him. I knew how much it meant to him to do well and how hard he’s been working. He’s struggled a bit this season. There are seven runners who make the varsity team. He has had to fight for that 7th spot all season long. During the season the coaches would announce the team line-ups at the beginning of each week. Most races Chandler made varsity, but some races he made JV. For the league finals he made JV. At first I think he was a bit disappointed, but then he realized that if he ran JV he had a shot at winning and he became excited.
It was a hard race. He knows the course well, but there are a lot of elevation changes. (For those of you unfamiliar with cross country -or XC-, all courses are different, but they are all three miles in length.)
And it was hot – about 85 degrees. He doesn’t usually run well in the heat. (Of course who does? There were actually trash cans at the end of the race for kids to throw up in and I hear the heat from this race caused a huge puke-a-torium.)
The heat worried me and I think it worried him, so when he overcame it and not only won the race, but more importantly improved his time on the course by 57 seconds, I think he was pretty pleased. A PR (personal record) and a win made for one happy boy and one proud mom.
And then I saw something that made my heart swell up just as much (if not more) for a boy I didn’t even know.
In that same JV race, about twenty yards from the finish line, a boy from another team collapsed. He must have pushed himself too hard in the heat. One of his teammates was just a few steps behind him and instead of running past him and finishing his race with a good time, he stopped and pulled his teammate up. He put his shoulder under his friend’s arm and supported him so they could stumble towards the finish line together. After about ten or twelve steps the boy fell again and his friend tried to pull him up a second time, but the fallen boy wouldn’t let him. “Just go,” he said, waving his friend off. “Just go.” His friend reluctantly ran to the finish. He probably lost more than 30 seconds of his time. A few seconds later the boy who fell was able to get up and cross the finish line on his own. He too, was amazing. He was no quitter.
I don’t know what their coach had to say to the boy who stopped to help his friend. Perhaps he was angry that he sacrificed points for the team. But I hope instead he commended him for his kindness. For the goodness in his soul.
Watching that one boy help his teammate was truly one of the most beautiful things I have ever witnessed. It brought tears to my eyes as I watched it and it brings tears to my eyes every time I think of it. I hope that boy’s mother and father were there to see how selflessly their son acted.
I stayed after Chandler’s race to cheer on his teammates in the other races. And also I wanted to see Sarah Baxter run her last league race. Sarah Baxter is the #1 high school girls’ cross country runner in the nation. She is a running sensation who has never lost a high school race and smashes records at every course she runs. She’ll get a free ride to the college of her dreams and she will most likely make the Summer Olympic team in 2020 if not 2016.
Watching her run is a true joy – she looks like a gazelle. She makes running look effortless. (And I can attest that it is not!) When she runs by everyone from every school cheers. She finished her race 85 seconds ahead of the 2nd place runner. Incredible! And then instead of cooling off (or puking in a trash can) she stood at the finish line to cheer on her teammates. She may be a superstar, but she is no diva.
Watching your child -and other children- succeed truly is one of the greatest joys in life. It’s what it’s all about isn’t it?
I feel so lucky and so blessed that I got to witness my son run faster, a girl who is the best in the nation run the fastest, and a boy whose name I’ll probably never know slow down to help a friend.
What has you child -or any child- done lately that made you feel lucky? Made you feel blessed? Made you feel proud?