Monday, August 17, 2009

The OTHER great race

What Now?

Yesterday, at the World Track and Field World Championships, Usain Bolt of Jamaica won the 100 meter dash with a time of 9.58, shattering his own world record in the process. Bolt, the 2008 Olympic gold medalist, once again showed why he has the title of "world's fastest man" by blowing away the competition.

And yet, on the other side of the world another race at a local high school track was about to take place. A race that, in my little world, makes the world championships seem rather unimportant. This race would pit father against daughter, a rivalry just starting to take shape, but will no doubt be ranked among the best in sports, at least in my daughter's mind.

For anyone who developed an interest in sports at a young age the biggest rival you faced was your parent(s), especially if you are the first born. Sibling rivalries are big, but don't really develop until all the siblings reach a similar level of ability. Heck, I could whip my younger brother in just about any sport invented for the first 18 years of his life. But I would say the last 15 years things have changed big time in the only sports we dare to compete in, like golf, ping-pong and racquetball. I would challenge him to a game of basketball, but I'm afraid I would injure myself beyond repair.

As the oldest child in my family it was my Dad that posed the biggest sports challenge I could ever face. To me he was like Larry Bird, Dan Marino, Don Mattingly and Carl Lewis all rolled into one super athlete. No matter the sport, he would always get the best of me. Until that one day that will live in sports history, or my mind, forever. The day I finally beat him in basketball. I don't remember the details, but I certainly remember the feeling. I have to believe it's right up there with winning a Super Bowl, an NBA title or a World Series. I still don't know if I beat him legitimately or if he threw the game, but for me things changed from that day forward. And now as a father I know they changed for him too.

How do I know this, well let's get back to the big race shall we? I thought it would be fun for the whole family to head on down to the local track and run around a little. We could probably tire out the kids a little and if I could avoid pulling every muscle in my body it would be a good day. My 7 year old is built very much like me, tall and all legs. I know she is fast. I've seen her leave friends and cousins in the dust when they race. When she suggested we race I'm sure you could see the glimmer in my eye a mile away.

We lined up at the start of the 100 meter dash. I told her I would give her a 5 second head start, just to be fair. To be honest I thought I could probably catch her by the 50 meter mark and then jog it in for the win. We get set, we get to our marks and I yell 'GO!"....and she is off. I count to 5 very loud as I see my little girl tear up the track...oh shit, I'm gonna really have to run now. At 5 I take off, determined to catch her.....better go faster.....come on dad, better catch her. Whoaaa, she is really fast. Don't hurt yourself old man, this is just for fun remember. Amazing how many thoughts I'm putting together for this short race, eh?

At this moment I know what my Dad felt like when we would play. On one hand you love seeing your child compete, give it everything they have to beat you. On the other you do still have a little pride, and you don't want to just hand them victory, you want them to earn it.

So, how did the race end you ask? You mean it wasn't posted on right under the world championship results...that sucks! Well, let's say it took just about everything I had in the tank to just nip her at the finish line. We did race one more time, and in that race she got me....and if I let up at the end she will never know, nor will she care because she beat her dad and that feeling will stay with her forever.



  1. I remember racing my dad around the house. He always won until the time I edged him at the finish. Like your daughter, I'll never know if he let up.

    Thanks for the memory.

  2. I'll bet that feeling will stay with her forever. And the race results should have been posted on ESPN because this race was important than any other. What you gave your daughter and what you felt yourself is beyond words.
    I never was into sports, so I didn't challenge my dad or mom to any races. Maybe I should have and increased my self-confidence a bit. The biggest "sport" around my mostly female house was arguing with my mom. She always won.