I’m collecting bits and pieces of advice and inspiration as I work towards that half-marathon, which at times still feels daunting, but at other times I embrace. Here’s inspiration I get from my son, Mark, during the last few whirlwind months of High School. This is what I wrote at the time (2010).
April 6: The track and field season officially starts, which means that training starts – especially for those who have been dormant all winter.
The rest of April: Mark is somewhat busy with band. We see Chris Botti in concert, attend the opera, he has 3 jazz combo gigs, a concerto concert, the revision and rehearsals of the piece he wrote for the Symphonic Band, and, oh yes, there’s this thing called homework. And Mom insists he actually study for his upcoming Music History exam.
No training for track is happening.
May 2-12: Rehearsal and concert with Victor Goines, saxophonist with Lincoln Centre Jazz Orchestra. History exam happens May 8, school Spring Concert is May 12 (where he conducts the piece he wrote), lunch hours are spent rehearsing for the upcoming Musical Theatre production, for which he voluntarily arranged all the music for pit band (girlfriend was in Musical Theatre – could have been a factor).
Minimal training for track is taking place.
May 15-18: Musical theatre rehearsals and performances.
May 18: The track coach informs him that he will be running the 400 metre race as well as his usual, comfortable hurdles. Mark freaks out.
MAY 19: DIVISIONAL TRACK MEET AT GLENMORE ATHLETIC PARK. He glides through hurdles, looking to defend his Provincial Champion title, then almost pukes after the 400. The old asthmatic cough kicks in. He and his school buddy go through to cities. Comment: “Oh crap, now I have to run this one again.” He vows to never do this again.
May 20-28: Gentle parental persuasion results in a few training runs for the 400m. After the first, he is still saying he can’t do it. After a couple more, it looks somewhat possible. Incidentally, High School Graduation ceremonies, banquet, and the all-night party occur this week. The band plays his piece, which he conducts, at the ceremony. He gives a reflection speech at the banquet.
May 29 (Mom’s birthday): City Track Meet is scheduled. We wake up to a blizzard. We prepare for a thoroughly nasty day at the track – sleeping bags, umbrellas, lots of tea – and are ready to leave when the text messages start. It is postponed till Monday. Grandpa and Grandma and Mom’s friend Ranelle come for a birthday lunch.
MAY 31: CITY TRACK MEET AT GLENMORE. Slightly better weather – at least it’s not raining or snowing. Grandpa, Grandma, and Ranelle are there to cheer him on. Mark meets his old rival in the hurdles final, where only the top 2 will go on to the Provincials. This is where reality hits. Hard. Mark clips the 3rd hurdle, loses his rhythm, and falls after the 5th. He gets up and finishes but ends up dead last. His rival wins; his buddy from school gets second.
The 400 is happening in a few hours. Mark collects himself and runs the race of his life. He digs deep, determined not to let the hurdling rival get one of the two coveted spots for this race as well. It has become personal. After the race, while he doesn’t feel like puking, he is too wasted to celebrate much. At least he’ll be going to the Provincials.
That evening is the French Immersion graduation at school. Mark gives a speech. In French.
June 1-4: More reality – schoolwork has fallen behind. One training run and one light jog.
JUNE 5: PROVINCIAL TRACK MEET IN MEDICINE HAT, AB. Mark, Mom and Leslie drive up the night before (a 3-hour drive) as the heats are at 9:40 a.m. Meanwhile, back home, Dad is at the grad for the high school where he teaches, and Kathleen arrives back home at 11 p.m. from her week-long French Immersion trip in Quebec. The plan is that Dad and Kathleen will drive down to Medicine Hat as soon as they get word that Mark advances to the Final. We’re fairly confident he will, but this is an unknown.
The first 3 to cross the finish line, plus the next 2 fastest times, advance to the Final. Mark runs smartly and saves his energy, finishing a fairly comfortable 3rd in his heat. Dad and Kathleen set out; Mark, Mom and Leslie go hunting for subs for lunch.
The Finals: This track meet is exceptionally well-run, although there isn’t a lot of room for spectators. The hurdle finals end up exactly as they had at the Calgary Championships. Given the times, Mark could easily have been on the podium. The Senior Boys 400 metre final happens at 2:12. Ben, a crazy fast runner from Edmonton, doesn’t ever quit accelerating and finishes first easily. Mark runs his best and finishes sixth. Sixth in the province – in a race he had run for the first time a mere 2 ½ weeks ago. Like he said as we set out for home, “What a ride!”