He tenses before the starting line, all forty pounds of him. Fiddling with the safety pins attaching his race number to his track suit, he shifts from the front to the back of his feet.
My son is five years old, and about to compete in his first road race---a turkey trot. One whole mile. And I am running with him.
With a shot of a gun, we start. "Keep your pace," I remind him, "Not too fast, not too slow."
"Okay, Mommy," he says, his fists curled into tight little clamshells, his arms pumping with each step.
We press forward.
He reaches for my hand, "My legs are getting tired." He coughs as the road crests like a wave.
"Just keep going," I say. "We're almost to the top. And you know what comes next?"
I squeeze his hand, "You get to race me back home. Maybe you'll even beat me."
He grins, and we round the corner. "Okay, Buddy," I say, "It's all you."
I expect him to take off, fueled by fearlessness. Instead, he lets go of my hand, and strides besides me. "Do you want to race?" I ask.
"No," he says, "I want to finish with you."
We run through the final corridor, alive with whistles and cheers. He gazes from one side to the other, smiling. Uncoiled, like a loose spring.
Our feet stamp across the finish. They drape a medal around his neck.
He looks up from our hug, and says, "Okay, Mom. Now it's your turn to race."
I line up once more, and run five more miles. For him. For me. For our tomorrows.
Some say a photograph steals the soul. This week, show us yours: take us
into the moment that photograph was taken. Show us who you were then
and what the photograph means–in 300 words.
There are many pictures of me running. I like to think that my son watched me compete, watched his father run marathons, and learned that running is just what people do. The pics from this post may have inspired him.