When I think back to the activities my dad and I shared, I remember playing catch with the baseball in the front yard after dinner. I remember biking to the baseball field by the elementary school playground, and my dad hitting grounders and flyballs to me. After a while, it was my turn for batting practice. Those were glorious evenings in the spring and summer.
When I was a new dad nearly ten years ago, I remember wondering what kinds of outdoor activities my son and I would share. Disc golf has been a constant since he was four. But last summer, right after he turned nine, we added 5ks.
On Saturday, my son and I ran our third 5k together. Sharp blue sky, fifty degrees, and a strong wind of over twenty mph. Other than the wind, it seemed a perfect afternoon for running.
It ended up a tough race all around. The course was wet, too crowded, and we, along with hundreds of other runners, ran three-tenths of a mile more than we needed to because the course wasn’t well-marked at the start. For both of us, the chill and strength of the wind blew away much of our energy. A series of frustrations.
The point of the race for us is that we run it together, that if one of us needs to walk, the other walks. It’s about time spent together, enjoying the experience of shared effort and shared accomplishment, regardless of the race time. And we had to walk. A lot. But it was okay. We talked. We encouraged one another.
When my dad started running when I was around my son’s age now, I had no interest in joining him at all. Basketball and baseball were my loves. Running seemed too boring.
While there’s pleasure in running by myself early in the morning, the rest of my family asleep, there’s a different pleasure running with my son, one that I savor. We’re already talking about the next 5k in late March, and we can’t wait to try again.