“While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.”
We raise our children and hope they will be good human beings. We do our best to teach them what we think they will need to live a happy and successful life. Sometimes, they have things to teach us too.
Our youngest son Jon, an ultra runner ( who will be forty in February, but will always be my baby) just participated in an endurance run in Lake Tahoe. 205.4 miles on the Tahoe Rim Trail which forms a loop around the Lake Tahoe Basin in the Sierra Nevada and Carson mountain ranges.
The terrain was rugged and dangerous. I didn’t know how rugged and dangerous it was until after the race which was probably a good thing because I was already wearing this…
Had I known just how hard this was going to be for him, I would have been wearing that while sitting in a dark closet drinking tequila straight from the bottle.
The run began on Friday morning at 9 am. The time allotted for the runners to reach the 205.4-mile finish line is 100 hours. There are aid stations about every 20 miles where a runners crew can meet them, where they can refill their water, get some food or in some stations, sleep for a few hours. Jon was able to sleep a few hours on Friday night and a few on Saturday. Sunday, he ran all night.
My courageous kid ran in the dark through rugged terrain filled with lions and tigers and bears. Okay, not tigers but definitely mountain lions, bears, bobcats, and coyotes. I’m afraid of things that go bump in the night. He didn’t get his courage from me.
Dave was his crew on this run, which meant he drove from aid station to aid station to meet Jon and help him with foot care, shoe, sock and clothing changes and anything else he needed ( the hours he slept were in the back of the Jeep.) Moral support is so important when your body is telling you that you are crazy and just need to stop. Being a dad and crew had to be hard; The dad part wanting to tell him to stop and take care of himself and the crew part pushing him forward, knowing that his goal was to finish.
And finish he did.
He crossed the finish line at 7:30 pm on Monday, 82 1/2 hours after he started. The last 24 miles, with his goal in sight, he increased his pace, even though his body was exhausted. Of the 219 runners who started the run, 75 dropped out somewhere along the way. 144 runners finished, and of those, Jon finished in 44th place, an incredible accomplishment.
Where did he find the strength of mind and perseverance to keep going when his body was telling him to quit? I’m pretty sure he didn’t get that from me either.
I learned from him this week. He taught me that we keep going no matter what. We set our sights on a goal, and we put one foot in front of the other to achieve it. We might have an uphill climb, or we may have to brace ourselves for the steep downhills. There might be dangers in our path, but we keep going. We find a way, we persevere. He showed me that there is a well of strength inside to draw from even when we feel depleted. He taught me that living our best life is possible and rewarding.
As parents, we do the best we can to teach our children, but sometimes the best lessons are learned FROM our children.
More about the Tahoe Trip tomorrow in part two.