Our 17-year old, Logan, is in his 4th year of cross country. Cross country is the only sport he’s participated in throughout high school, which is absolutely fine by us. We’ve always had the approach when it comes to our kids and activities that we just want them to participate in at least one during the year. Our reasoning is primarily focused on keeping them out of trouble. Being that they are my offspring, this is important. Just trust me on that. We also place importance on the social aspects of belonging to a group, whatever that group may be. Yes we send our kids to school to learn, but it’s not just writing and grammar and math and textbooks. School is just as important for teaching kids social norms, emotional ups and downs, and being a part of a group of people all gathering for a common reason. What life lessons you get out of it will stay with you for a lifetime. Good or bad.
Logan has developed some amazing friendships and hopefully a few lifelong bonds with his cross country teammates. It’s provided him a social network that has gone beyond his cross country team. It’s provided him valuable lessons and traits he will carry with him well into adulthood; self-discipline, determination, camaraderie, and going beyond what he thought his body was capable of. Anyone who knows me knows that I consider running as a replacement to therapy. Although some still think it should be in addition to. So this being Logan’s last year of cross country, I am so happy and proud as a mom to see his growth, not only as a runner, but as a person.
Every year his school hosts a meet called The Twilight Invitational. I honestly think this meet is one of the reasons why Logan loves cross country so much. It’s actually an amazing event. It takes place on a golf course, a 5K distance, ran on the golf course itself. If you look across the greens on the day of the meet you see 60-plus schools’ tents from all around the state pitched with their school name and mascot stretched across the front, hundreds of runners all decked out in their school colors scattered about, and parents and supporters of all kinds wandering the landscape taking in this marvelous event for all to enjoy. Some take it a little more seriously than others.
If you haven’t been to a cross country meet before, it’s important to realize you only see your runner for a few moments at different times throughout the course. You don’t sit in a bleacher as a spectator — you move around to catch a glimpse of your runner at pivotal points throughout the course. Being a 4-year veteran of the Twilight Invitational, I know exactly where to go to plant my position to begin videoing when I expect to see Logan appear. Considering my glimpse is usually through a video camera, I don’t absorb much of what is going on except for capturing Logan as he goes by. I just concentrate on filming and screaming Logan’s name as he runs by and tell him how amazing he is by chanting, “Go Logan! Woohoo!!”
This particular meet I did see Logan from about 500 to 600 yards away as I was scanning the distance for where he was, throw an object into the air to the sidelines as someone caught it as he was running by. I briefly thought to myself, “What in the heck is he throwing?” After another half mile or so I see Logan coming up the hill. I am predictable as usual with my phone out videoing him as he runs by not paying attention to much else. Go Logan!
It was not until after the race did I see Logan walking away from the finish line, clearly not happy with his time (although his time was beyond anything I could obtain even on my best day running), holding one shoe in his hand. My initial thought was he took it off after the race for whatever reason he had — too hot, his foot hurt, a rock was in his shoe. It was not until hours later did I find out that his shoe came untied during the first half-mile. Instead of stopping to tie it, or worse, stopping the race completely, Logan decided to take the shoe off mid-stride, and carry it for another quarter a mile and throwing it to the first teammate he recognized on the sideline the first chance he got, and finished the rest of the race with only one shoe.
I looked through all my footage of the pivotal moments of Logan’s race that I had, and sure enough, he had one shoe on the entire time. Knowing he kept going with only one shoe, knowing how determined he was to PR during this race, knowing how much he looked forward to this race each year, seeing all the things I hoped his connection with cross country would accomplish, they were all displayed during this 3.1 mile run; self-discipline, determination, camaraderie, and going beyond what he thought his body was capable of.