May 26

PERSEVERANCE taught by a 14 year old

My youngest son, Colin, competed in the Middle School Track & Field State Championship this weekend. He ran in the first race of the day during a sun-soaked event in Central Ohio.  He was the third-leg of his school’s 4x800m track team.  They ran very well and came in second overall.

Colin’s second event came more than 5 hours later.  By then he was tired and ready to be done.  The ceremonial event-shirt had been purchased.  The sports drinks had been drank.  The snacks had been snicked.  His teammates had completed their events and most of them had even gone home.  He told us that his calf was hurting and he didn’t really want to run anymore.

Coach Jackson told him that he should run the race.  Connie and I went below the bleachers to talk to Colin.  He told us how he felt…on the outside. We knew how he felt on the inside.

This was his race.  The 3200m (2 mile).  He had ran this race for the past 2 years in cross-country and earned a personal best of 11:41. This time it was different.  He had a smooth track and a glaring sun.  The lack of wind was eary.  It was a beautiful day for a run.  But he had demons.  “I can’t do it.”  “I don’t want to injure myself.”  “I’m sick already.”  Those self-limiting beliefs came creeping in.

I can relate.  My day job has really taken off, which is a good thing – says the salesman.  At the same time, I want to continue to serve you and work towards my dream job.  That’s a tough thing.

It’s time for me to take a step back and evaluate where I am.  Am I adding value?  What can I do better? Can I do it?  Will I injure myself?  Am I really as tired as I think I am or am I just distracted?

Reading my own words on paper makes me realize something.  Something that I should have realized a long time ago.  This is something that I need to pray about, not stew about.  Just asking God for discernment may give me the clearer head that I need.   Enough about me.

Let’s finish that story about Colin.  He ran the race with 35 other runners.  There were both boys and girls. In the 3200m race, the runners make 8 laps around the Dublin Scioto High School track.  After the first two laps Colin was in 10th place.  He looked good and in the next 2 laps he put himself in 8th place.  The lead runners began to separate themselves from the field.  I was worried that Colin would lose the drive to finish strong without the lead pack in sight.

If you’ve ever been to a sporting event, that I’m at, you know exactly where I am.  This day was no different. Those last four laps everyone else disappeared.  It was just me and Colin.  No matter where he was on the track, I continued to yell words of encouragement.

With 2 laps remaining Colin was in 7th place.  He looked great.  There was no sign of sickness, no sign of fatigue, no sign of a sore calf.  During the 7th lap he moved into 6th place.  Way to go Colin!  Way to go Wagner!  Just one lap to go.  It’s time to kick it in.

During the backstretch of the 8th and final lap, the unthinkable happened.  He got passed by the same runner that he had just passed.  My best parenting skills were thrown out the window.  If I could have run across the infield I would have.  Let’s go Wagner!  It’s time to get it back Colin!  (and you thought I was yelling before).

Through turns 3 and 4, Colin and the other runner became neck-and-neck.  Here they came down the homestretch.  Colin steps to the outside and makes a surge with 50 meters to go.  It was as if he had a totally new sense of life.  He knew where he was and where he needed to be.

He didn’t let up from that moment on and he crossed the finish line in 11 minutes and 28 seconds.  A new personal record (PR).  Way to Colin!  Nice job!  Way to go Wagner!  Nice job!  That was awesome!  … He was spent.

When we caught up later, I told him how proud I was of him and how we would never forget that race. It was a good day.

This was his last race at middle school, but one of his first in life.

This is good stuff.  What have you learned from sporting events?