No sooner did I speak those words when I felt a tug on my arm, "Dad, Dad, Daaaaaaaad!"
"What is it, Harrison?"
"I want to do that."
"Run a 10k."
"You want to train for a 10k?"
"Yeah, but... but... I... ummm... want to run it with you."
"OK, we'll do it together." High-FIVE!
And so we are.
First stop; the Dallas Running Club's Frigid 5k this weekend. He had a goal of bettering his last 5k time of 25:55 set in November. Not a bad goal for a 9-year-old, I thought. I would be his pace man.
Although he started at a quick place, fast enough to set a personal record, he began to fade at the half way mark and at two-and-a-half miles he slowed down considerably and said he needed to walk. I told him to take as much time as he needed to get his strength back and then run again. We walked for a hundred yards or so when suddenly, without warning, we were passed by a boy about his age. I said, "Harrison, I think that guy is in your age group. You should try to catch him."
Some would have just let him go and some might give an excuse why they couldn't make pursuit. But Harrison took a deep breath, wrinkled his face like a worn catcher's mitt and gave chase. He ran at a full sprint with arms pumping and chin pointed high while I ran right on his heels. When we caught up to the boy, with only 50 yards to the finish, Harrison gave him a dismissive look and kept on going as hard as he could. Never looking back, we crossed the finish line together in a time of 27 minutes and 35 seconds.
His effort earned him second place in his division. After he was presented with his trophy he exited the stage and waited at for the boy he passed on the course, the third place finisher. When the boy approached, he extended his hand. I overheard him say, "Hi, I'm Harrison. Good race." The boy looked like he wasn't sure what to do or say. They shook hands and walked away without saying another word.
It wasn't his fastest 5k but what Harrison achieved was far better than a personal record and more valuable than a trophy. Today he gained valuable lessons of determination and sportsmanship.
Back in the car for the drive home I asked him what he wanted to do next. He said, "Let's run together more but first can we stop and get coffee?"
That's my boy.