My sixteen-year-old, 5’7″ 105-pound son has found his sport: Cross Country. And holy singlets and short-shorts, are XC meets ever fun! We parents stake out our viewing spots at the starting line, then at the crack of the gun, we hold our breath as the mob bursts forth. We cheer and scream, searching for our own fast-skinny sons amid the herd, such a knobby-kneed-and-elbowed wave of boys. The moment our sons sprint past, we beeline for viewing point #2 for our next glimpse of the runners, after which we hustle ourselves–often through mud or a gravel parking lot or even a wooded section of the course, to catch glimpse #3 before we book it to the finish line to cheer our boys into sprint mode.
These boys, faces red and slick with sweat, race wing-footed toward the finish line with burning lungs and heaving breaths. They call it the finish line, but it’s really the starting point, the moment where the runners start to realize just how terribly-awful they feel. After crossing the line, some runners double over in pain or lift their arms over their heads, hoping this will help their lungs absorb unused molecules of oxygen.
At this finish line, the scene is primal. No shortage of body fluid. Some boys puke. Some blow snot or cough up gross stuff. Some nearly cry, and some do cry. Some fall over in a faint, causing the finish line marshals to rush to their aid, moving them to the side of the chute so they won’t get trampled by runners just coming across the line.
It’s a marvel to witness. It’s a torture to run. Or so it seems. [Read more…]