The Race I Didn’t Expect

On Sunday morning, a group of folks gathered beside the river to benefit my town’s ever-developing development. Since May has been nothing short of manic depressive in Pennsylvania, it was quite chilly at 7:30 in the morning. Not that it mattered, really, because we were here to run.

This was my third 5K and I was looking forward to beating my best time. Each race that I’ve done this year has been about pushing myself to new levels. Testing myself.

Life, it would seem, had other plans.

Joining me that morning was my Wife, Mom, and three boys, Oldest, Middle, and Little (ages 4 to 7). Wife and Mom were going to walk, so my boys wanted to join them. We had a plan: I’d do my run, then meet them back at the finish line.

Then the race started: Ready, set, go!

Middle took off like a bat out of hell. Happy as a clam, he ran with the big dogs.

Little started running but quickly lost steam; ambitions often much bigger than his 4-year-old body. He walked with Wife.

But Oldest fell into step beside me, matching my speed as I started. I could see his eyes focused on the run and his mouth set in concentration. I asked him, “Do you want to run the whole race?”

Oldest doesn’t really have athletic interests. He’s a Lego builder, coloring nut, and budding scientist, but organized sports, running, yoga, basically anything that involves physical exertion isn’t really up his alley.

Yet, on Sunday morning, he said: “Yes.”

In that moment, I realized that this race wasn’t about me anymore. It’s wasn’t about my best time. It was about him. It was about keeping my son running the whole race until we crossed the finish line.


This year I set some lofty goals. A mixture of professional and personal goals, I had some very specific places I wanted to get to. Among my goals this year: starting my own company (Done!), finish writing a book I was working on (Not Yet), and increase my income (In Progress). Interestingly enough, running a race wasn’t even on my list but connected to another goal of continuing the weight loss that I started last year (70 lbs!).

Although these goals often become the mantras that we say over and over to keep us moving, we need to remember that they might change. As life often proves to us, everything is fluid. The goals we set at the beginning of the year are often not the ones that we need to achieve by the end of the year. Along the way, life shows us the goals that are really important to achieve.

For me, this year, my goal of losing weight has been focused on me. Sure, being healthier affects my family but really it’s about me. Perhaps, though, my goal should be to use exercise, hiking, racing, and other pursuits to make my family do more together and be stronger. Any weight loss along the way would be just an added bonus.The Finish Line

The Finish Line

Back to the race: I used some games and constant motivation to get Oldest past the midway point, turned around, and racing back toward the finish line. Although he was starting to falter, he listened to me and kept running. Along the way, we caught up to Middle, who had run out of steam.

Oldest and I now flanked Middle and I motivated two kids to finish the race.

Although they were moaning, crying, and ready to give up, we finished the race, crossing in this order: Oldest, Middle, and me. Our time: 36 minutes.

Honestly, finishing that race with my two kids was 10 times more rewarding than any previous races. When they took 2nd and 3rd place in their age group and each got a medal, the look of sheer joy and pride on their face were better than some personal best time

I have goals. And I’m going to meet them. However, I need to flexible enough to change or even give up certain goals to achieve what I really need to achieve. I need to be open to possibilities and pick the right goals to get me and my family where we need to be.

And I can’t wait to run another race with my kids.

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