Back to the pool yesterday-I love the pool. I love that feeling you get when your muscles are warm and then all of a sudden swimming is effortless, glide, glide, glide. Oddly, I find myself blogging in my mind as I swim. I journal into my computer, so I am used to dumping the contents of my brain on the keyboard. So, I stroke along, fingers flying, arms spinning, mental harddrive recording, yards passing. I write in my brain during most of the swim. Now if only I can find a cable to attach to my brain so I can upload. Hypen girl (my 12 year old) sat on the pool deck reading and listening to my MP3 while I swam. Every so often I would break, take a drink of water and say hi. "Mom, you're not swimming fast enough. It takes you almost a minute to go down and back-I'm timing you." Thanks coach. She swims 50 in 38 seconds for swim meets. "I'm swimming a mile, so I take a slower pace". Jaw drop. "a mile?" Vindicated.
We went to the indoor track to run next. A funhouse of training insanity. It takes 18 loops for a mile-the corners thankfully are banked. It's a little like small town stock car racing-accelerate, corner, accelerate, corner, roar past the crowd-well ok the men playing bball on the gym down below. Hyphen girl (HG) joined me for the first mile. A 7:50 mile in gym class this spring, she is confident in striding alongside. We complete lap 18 and stop for water, and she goes to sit down. We aren't done yet, you have to run another mile with me. I can't run 2 miles, I only run the mile. It's time to push that and run 2. (She wants to run a 5k with me this summer because it is part of a parade in MPLS) We slowed the pace and chatted until lap 9.
Then she stopped. "I can't do this." "Yes you can, just keep moving foward"
"I can't run anymore" "yes you can, you're halfway, just keep moving"
"Everything hurts, I can't"
Parent dilemna. Is this an I can't or I won't. How bad is she hurting? How hard can I push? I can't force her to finish at this point unless I threaten to punish her-and that would be cruel and dispiriting. More encouragement-she's walking now. Honey, I know you can do this. I wouldn't push you if I didn't think you could do it. Just a few more steps, come on.
"No" more tears
I've pushed as hard as seems wise now. "ok, just go sit down and rest and I'll finish my run" I really wanted that to sound merciful but I have a feeling it sounded more like "Fine! just go sit down" Hard to say. At any rate I had only run 20 steps when I hear her running up behind me. I tell her she doesn't have to run-so she runs. go figure.
Lap 13. "I can't do this." "only 5 laps to go, you can do this" "I can't" "Yes you can, just keep moving. "I can't"
At this point the older gentleman we shared the track with puttered past- "If an old man can do it, so can you"
I take her hand and pull a little. She pushes my hand away, but begins to run again. 4 laps to go. 3 laps to go. 2 laps. She walks. "I can't" tears. You have gone 16 laps, there is no way I can let you quit now. She's walking-I'm jogging alongside. "Everything hurts" "If you push through the pain it will be worth it-I promise" 1 lap to go. "C'mon honey you can do it." 3 corners. "Almost done" "I can't, I can't" "look up and see the finish, you are almost there" "I can't, it hurts" "that will make the finish feel that much better" final straightaway. She begins to run a little faster. "that's it, you can do it" Big hug, "You did it, you ran 2 miles!"
Sheepish grin. Inward self congratulatory grin. She ran farther than she had ever run before-but mom had to help- Not a completely foreign event-think homework, but a challenge to her self depiction as an athelete.
She had just set a school record with 5 blue ribbons in 5 events at the spring multi school track meet, including a meet record with her relay team. She is the fastest girl in her class. She placed in the top 3 for the mile run in gym class. By God's grace she runs fast, and her effort alone brings great reward.
Honey, sometimes life is a sprint and you will move forward by virtue of the gifts God gave you. But if you want to run the race that is set before you, the whole long endurance challenge, sometimes you'll have to take the hand of the person running alongside you. You'll need help to get through the difficult, painful times.
But doesn't the finish line feel great!