If I think about it, all I really want for any of my children is for them to find something they want to do bad enough that they would push through failures, or setbacks, or pain to do it. I want them to be able to make and keep commitments to themselves and to others. I want them to know the satisfaction of being able to say, “I gave it my all,” and I want them to experience the joy of success that comes after a struggle. Ultimately, I don’t care what that something is.
This weekend I got to witness my 13-year-old get put to a test. His 4x800M and 4x400M teams were competing in the USATF Region 15 Junior Olympic Championships, the last step on the way to to the National Championships. Running the final leg of the 4x800M finals on Saturday afternoon, something looked off as he was finishing the last 200 meters. He was struggling more than he should have been, I could see it on his face. He was in pain. We learned soon after that the new shoes he was wearing caused large, painful blisters on the bottoms of both feet.
As soon as he was able, he took his shoes off and sat on the infield. The pain was so bad, he was in tears, walked on his heels back to the team tents, finally having to be carried by his 15-year-old brother to the car. My wife, his coach, picked up some extra medical supplies and met us at the hotel where she drained the blisters and bandaged them up. When he woke up on Sunday morning, he still could not walk on them without pain.
More treatment and a gel, moleskin, and tape job that looked like a jigsaw puzzle on the bottom of his feet allowed him to be able to properly do the 30+ minutes of warm up and compete in the 4 x 400M finals yesterday. Part of the way through that race, the blisters on the outside of his left foot ripped open. Once again, as the photo shows above, he had to be carried off the track, this time by his grateful teammates.
I don’t believe it’s possible to have been more proud. Under those circumstances, simply showing up and running would have been enough. Not giving up would have been enough. But in both races, he still ran personal best split times, and both teams advanced to the USATF National Junior Olympic Championships.
He has obviously found something he wants bad enough to fight through pain and setbacks to achieve. When it would have been easy to make excuses and give up, he was able to power through and keep his commitment to himself and his team. Today he has the satisfaction of knowing he gave it his all and he is experiencing the joy of success after a struggle.
There will be many tests in his still young life. This past weekend was a big one though. And he passed… with flying colors.
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