Posted by Anne R., One Nathan Sales Rockin' Mother
My parents made me play golf.
The thrill of whacking a dimpled orb with a stick in hopes of it landing in a tiny hole eluded me as a child and continues to elude me as an adult. I appreciate my parents wanting to have a family hobby, but golf? Seriously? Psychedelic-patterned shorts aside, I couldn't get passionate about the game. Oh, and I was terrible. A danger to myself and those in close proximity.
When I discovered mountain biking, I'd found my sport. Sure, cycling togs rivaled the lunacy of golf outfits, but other than sartorial silliness, cycling was as different from golf as ice cream from kale. You didn't need to belong to a posh club to ride a bike. There were no greens fees. And you could go faaaaaaaaast.
On our fourth date, I put my husband on a borrowed mountain bike and sent him careening down a seven-mile descent in California's Ventana Wilderness Area. We had a fifth date and I had a soul mate.
When our son Jimmy arrived on the scene, I was already planning epic bike adventures for the family. Indeed, we followed the 2004 Tour de France, riding some iconic climbs with our five-year old on a trail-a-bike.
By the time he was 12, Jimmy had competed in almost every cycling discipline, including road mountain bike, cyclocross and track. I always asked him if there was another sport he'd rather be doing-swimming, crew, lacrosse. Golf?
We have a family rule that you have to play an instrument and participate in a sport. It didn't matter what sport or what instrument. Golf and tuba? No problem.
We enrolled Jimmy in a two-week golf program, but it didn't take. Tennis was a no-go either. Mercifully, he discovered the guitar and we could forego the tuba.
Now he's a teenager and finding his own interests which includes running. I had shared my passion for cycling with my son for the last few years. Now it was his turn to share his passion for running with me. Our first race was the Gener8tions 8K held this past April at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.
Sponsored by Students Run Philly Style, an organization that offers youth marathon training and mentorship, the Gener8tions 8K proved the perfect entr√©e to racing. The program helps youth connect to their dreams and go farther both on the pavement and in life. Run longer. Run stronger. Go farther. How could I resist?
I also reasoned, why start with a 5K when for the same price you could do an 8K? Fifteen hundred runners provided palpable energy at the start that somewhat eased my Boo-Boo Belly, which everyone knows is the clinical term for pre-race jitters. A sea of supporters who held signs, donned costumes, and shouted encouragement cheered the Students Run youth, mentors and other runners. The last time I saw this kinds of enthusiasm was atop the Alp d'Huez at the 2004 Tour.
The course doubled backed on itself, enabling slower runners to see faster ones as they neared the finish. As I struggled to reach mile four, Jimmy was heading in the opposite direction nearing the finish. We high fived and my Boo Boo Belly was replaced by pride, joy and love.
And there it was. I was running for my son as much as for myself. To show him it's never too late to try something new. To show him that the time to challenge yourself is always now. To share in his joy.
On June 13, I will join Jimmy and his fellow students, faculty and alumni at JR Masterman School as we run to raise money for the Philadelphia school district's budget shortfall. The Laps for Education program raised over $10,000 in 2012; the 2013 goal is to raise $20,000 for the Middle School Athletic budget as well as other Masterman clubs and activities. Many of the students participating are also members of Masterman's Students Run Philly Style team.
Since my foray into running, I've joined my son on trail and tarmac, running on the very same places where we used to ride bikes. We run together on the trails of Fairmount Park's Wissahickon and Belmont Plateau where I introduced him to mountain biking when he was a tot. We join the Students Run kids on Kelly Drive where it seems like yesterday Jimmy rode his first two-wheeler and we'd vie to cross imaginary lines to win sprint points.
We are runners, striving to go farther. We learn about each other as we run, sharing secrets and dreams and fears. We laugh, we learn, we test ourselves.
We are not playing golf.