Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The agony of defeat

So my second oldest had his only home Cross Country meet.  My Mom and the family came out, being the only chance they would have to cheer him on.  Coming off his triumphant performance on Saturday, he was gearing toward beating that time and moving up in the team standings.  Alas, on Monday the first whiffs that something might go wrong were noticed.  He was hit with an horrible case of allergies, and could barely breath.  We had to rush medications to him at school. He ended up missing his only practice this week before the game.  He woke up today still fighting the allergies and having a difficult time breathing.

Still, he was ready to go.  Pumped up, he was committed to blowing away his time and wowing everyone again.  Then the start of the race, and everything fell apart. It being a home meet, the entire team was psyched and ready to go.  Within the first hundred yards, several who were never even near him were ahead of him.  I could sense the panic.  With the strain on his respiratory system, he tried to catch up, but the harder he tried, the worse it got.  Then in the middle of the race, in an area called the Wetlands, in a desperate attempt to make up time, he slipped and twisted his ankle.

Rather than stop, he kept pushing along.  Compensating for the pain, he began to run unevenly, and this simply added to the difficulties in pacing himself and breathing.  By the last half mile, when he was now near the back of the race, and all but a handful of his teammates were breaking their own personal bests (including his time), he was barely able to make it.  Our oldest son was ready to go and run beside him to cheer him on, but I had to stop him (that's called pacing, and it's not allowed).  At a couple points, holding his side and limping, we really thought he wasn't going to finish.

But finish he did.  As he rounded the last turn, heading into the final 100 yards, one of the kids on the other team began to pass him.  Now this young fellow was not, obviously, at the top of his team's roster.  But he clearly saw a chance to pass someone, and my boy was the target.  I figured there wasn't anything left for him to prevent being passed.  I was wrong.  Somewhere, somehow, through the pain and breathing troubles, my boy pulled something out of the ether and gave one of the best sprints of all his competitions, the crowd was on its feet and he pulled it off in the last inches.  So I was proud of him, even if the pain and his disappointment eliminated any cheerfulness on his part.

So given that our footballer had a less than stellar performance last Wednesday (and is now former MVP, currently second string because of it), and our oldest stumbled on Saturday, and our third competitor rounded out with a crushing collapse today, I think we'll be taking the upcoming long weekend to encourage, inspire, and just try to have fun to take away the agonies of their defeats.  We'll be going to the county fair, playing games, eating pumpkin donuts and drinking apple cider and watching more horror movies and maybe even starting some Halloween specials (we always start with an old VCR tape of Disney's Halloween Haunts,* with three old shorts centered around spooky or Halloween subjects).  Because of the need to have oodles of family fun, blogging will be sparse till next Monday.  So all you millions of fans our there, just try to get by until I am back to dispense my enlightened insights on the groveling masses. TTFN

My oldest, youngest, and Mom are all ready to cheer him on

Just back from football practice, our third son is getting into the act

Alas, but the storm clouds moving in brought allergies and ominous  foreboding

Our oldest, ready to run out and lend an encouraging hand as those autumn clouds  hover menacingly overhead

*We actually have the rarer version, with the song and video for 'Grim Grinning Ghosts' before the first short. .  Cool stuff!

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