Against The Wind . . .

If one can find a silver lining in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it would be that self-quarantine has brought families closer together. No longer having schools to occupy our children, at least for a few hours a day, we must come up with creative ideas to keep them amuse while trying to preserve our own sanity. 

My next-door neighbor is always doing something with his children. We got into a conversation while I was raking up leaves, and he told me of a nearby trail where he and his family used to go and run, but since individuals were not really following social distancing practices, he has refrain from taking his family there. 

I am not entirely sure if our conversation engendered subsequent events, but it might have been the impetus that prompted me to ask my younger daughter of her experiences on the track. She told me her time in running the mile, and I was appalled by the number. I queried if she had ever heard of Roger Bannister. History is lost on our youth, for she had no idea who he was or why I even brought him up. 

The next day I challenged her to run the mile. Although I had not run the mile in quite some time, I was disheartened by my time. It was then that my daughter confided in me that she did not really run the mile in school. The coach has mistakenly counted her third lap as the fourth, and so her time was incorrect.  

My daughter was downtrodden when she saw her actual time, and although she bested me by two minutes it did little to console her. I explained that this was only a trial run to gauge where we currently were, and how much work will be needed to get to our particular goals. I assured her that the time I posted would be the last time I ever run the mile so slow.  

The goal I set for her was simple. We needed to cut her time in half. Of course, she trash talked me mercilessly about how slow I ran, and that it must have been hard for me to coach her, since I was so far behind. I teased that her description of my running prowess was comparable to a sloth, and I would use it as motivation, because she should not poke the bear. 

The next day was quite a different story. She started off quickly. Surely, overcome with confidence, it must have been quite a shock when I passed her for good on our second lap. I shaved four minutes off my time from the previous day. Although my daughter ran her best time as well, the fact that I had passed her, did not sit too well. 

She did not speak on the drive home. I realized that I had to curtail my competitive nature. This was not supposed to be a competition between my daughter and me, but for me to help her accomplish her track goals. The next day I stood on the sideline while she ran. At various points on the track I yelled at her to pick up the pacer or lengthened her stride. She posted her best time, and was quick to point out that hers had been better than mine. 

I did not utter a reply. I merely took a picture of her time and sent it to her, my wife, and her older sister. I praised her effort, while silently acknowledging that competition breeds excellence.  

We were back on the track two days later, but this time accompanied by my wife. It was a somewhat windy day, and my wife was reluctant at first about running. My daughter and I raced against each other again, but it was my wife who had seized the day.  

When I completed my run, I stood and admired as she jogged around the track. Four and half laps later, against the wind, my lovely wife had completed a mile. The woman who always claimed that she could not run, ran the mile a minute off my original time.  

The pandemic has claimed many victims, but it is our attitude as we face it, which will ultimately determine if we can find something serendipitous to celebrate in spite of it. 

Bradley Booth