Friday was a long time coming. After hearing about cross-country for the past 4 years, Bailey was finally old enough to compete. At Runcorn Heights, the first time for a student to compete in cross-country is the year they turn 9. Bay has been waiting in anticipation for so long to take on this challenge. He couldn’t wait to start training for it. Due to my work commitments and Bay’s music commitments, he wasn’t able to get to school for the scheduled training sessions, so he trained with me.
We’ve had a ball training together. It’s been so awesome teaching him about something that is my passion. It’s also been a great time to bond and spend quality time together. I’m just so proud of how far he has come with his perseverance and determination. He really inspires me:)
When we started training together 6 weeks ago, Bay was in quite a bad way. His anxiety was overwhelming and his motor and vocal tics were at their peak. Watching him struggle each day was breaking our hearts and we were doing everything we could to keep him calm and happy. At times cross-country training brought out the best and worst in him depending on his state of mind. But when he was focused he was amazing. To date his longest tun without stopping is 3k and his fastest km is 5.16 mins…am so chuffed for him:)
This past week leading up to cross-country has been a trying one. Anxiety started kicking in early in the week as he was worried that he wouldn’t know where to run. He was worried that he would get lost – which is his biggest fear in life! But once he was reassured by his PE teacher who walked the course with him, he started to settle. Then two mouth ulcers formed in his mouth and the morning of the cross-country he woke with a sore throat.
My whole speech to him all week was “mate it doesn’t matter where you place as long as you do your very best and have FUN!” That is my mantra for everything!!! He had his little heart set on age champion – dreams are free right?!? We all wished things like this didn’t we?!? Bay puts so much pressure on himself to be the best. It’s great to be passionate and have goals, but I worry that he misses the fun of it all!!
His race wasn’t until after morning tea at 11.30 – it was such a hot and humid day, really it was too hot for cross-country! He sat very quiet and patiently watching all the races before him. He was taking it ALL in. As he lined up on the line, the tallest 9-year-old by far, his face told the story! He wanted it soooo bad. The gun went off and all you saw was my son and his bright watermelon shoes shoot off like a canon. The first thing I thought was “not too fast Bay!!”
He led for a fair bit of the race but the speed he started with was starting to punish him at the half way mark. Mum saw him with about 300m to go and he was hurting. As I stood at the finishing line waiting for the brightness of his shoes to catch my eye, three other boys came round the corner one by one. I was worried Bay was collapsed somewhere on the course but alas, he was still upright. As he ran the last 100m he had two boys right on his coattails, but he never gave up and pumped those legs to cross the line and receive 4th place…that’s when he did collapse….He was pale. He was delirious. He ended up vomiting. He ran that race with every bit of fighting fibre of his being and he did us bloody proud!
Once he came back to earth and was back to being coherent, we debriefed the race. I told him how proud I was of him for never giving up. I know what running pain, stitches and heat exhaustion is like. It’s so easy just to stop and walk, it’s the hardest thing to keep going and push through that pain and he did! We spoke about the art of long distance running and how you have to pace yourself and not go out so hard and even though we trained to pace and sprint at the end, I think nerves may have gotten the better of him! Although he didn’t say it out loud, I could tell he was disappointed, but after lots of encouragement and praise from so many people, Bay went to bed that night feeling very proud of himself and super happy that Cunningham won the cross-country carnival!!!
As his mother, and a running mother as well, this whole experience has left me inspired. If my son can push through that pain he did on Friday, I’ll always be able to as well. So when I set out to complete my 17k yesterday morning, there were times where I was hurting, but thinking of Bay helped me to push through and take over 2 mins off my 17k pb! Kids are inspiring…no mater what age or ability they have, they really are courageous little human beings!!