A father-son rivalry heats up

Over the long and winding course of my life, lots of important dates jump out.
There are the days I turned 30 and 40 and 50. There are the days I graduated from college, the day I got married, the day I became a daddy, the day I ran my first marathon, etc.
But for the next few months, no date will loom larger in my life than this one: Saturday, November 14. That’s the day I will find out if I can still run faster than my boy.
Can Steven finally beat his old man this year? He's been practicing hard, including this summer run at his middle school.

Steven is getting faster, and just might beat his old man this fall. Here he does a half-mile repeat during a practice at his middle school.

Steven and I have a friendly rivalry every November: Which of us can beat the other at the Great North Run 5K at our local high school.

Normally, I wouldn’t try to go head-to-head with my own kid. But he started it. Honest! He challenged me the first year, and none too gently, I might add. (“I can beat you, old man!”)

Hey, paternal love only goes so far. A man has to rise to the challenge.

Steven is now 13 years old and in eighth grade. We do our fair share of father-son things, such as hiking, hill climbing, mountain biking and even some running. And we usually have a wonderful time — non-competitive, low-pressure, high-quality, laid-back.

But I have my limits. During the Great North Run, we go for blood.

And in my bloodthirsty way, I’ve beat him three times out of three, since this rivalry started.

Last year, I finished in 22:24 (a 7:12 pace). Steven finished in 24:31 (a 7:53 pace). See results here.

But I’m getting older. And Steven is getting faster.

He has run cross country for the past four years, and is getting speedier every year. This year, his coach is a young, intense guy, who has been teaching him some cool stuff about surging, sprinting, push points and leg turnover.

Steven’s first meet of the season is on Thursday, and I have a hunch he’ll be posting some PRs.

And while Steven is getting speed pointers, I’ve been coasting for the last month or two.

Can Daddy still keep up with Speedy Steven? This is a short race, on pavement, mostly on school grounds. There’s not much room for error. But I think I can kick up the speed between now and then.

That’s going to be my motivation for the next two months. Stay tuned for the Great North Run Matchup: Daddy Running Scared.

In that vein, I pushed myself to run about four miles this morning, despite a severe lack of sleep (under six hours) and fatigue from a long holiday weekend, capped by a seven-hour car ride. (See yesterday’s posting.)

Funny how an upcoming race will do that.

I love my son. May he see nothing but accomplishment and improvement this season. May he even win a few races.

All except the one on November 14.


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