Sunday, October 21, 2012

Another Race, This One with Epic Oedipal Implications

My relationship with son #1 has been significantly defined by competition.  Starting with Ken Griffey Jr.'s Homerun on the SNES, we've really enjoyed playing games against each other.  Faithful readers of this blog will recall several posts about this, like when he first beat me at chess (here), when he first beat me running a mile (here), and when I beat him in the first annual CrossFit triathlon--though not out of superior athletic ability (here).  Well, today was the next significant installment of our father-son rivalry at the Grand Rapids Half-Marathon.

I've written before that I have substantially changed from running as my primary form of exercise to CrossFit.  That actually led to my best result in a half marathon last June (recounted here).  So, the plan was to continue that training through the summer and see what it might lead to in a full marathon this fall.  Well, I discovered that it was more difficult for a regimen of pull-ups, burpees, and kettlebell swings to prepare you for 26.2 miles.  I did start building up to some longer runs on the weekends, and two weeks ago thought I might still give the full marathon a try because I ran a pretty good 16 miler.  But son #1 convinced me to stick with the half marathon because he had been doing a little running at college this fall and he wanted to race me.

My good wife had also been preparing for the half, so the three of us got up at 4:30 this morning and drove the two hours up to Grand Rapids.  We've run this several times in previous years, and it is a very well done event.  It was a bit on the brisk side at 8:00am (39 degrees), but it was gorgeous running as the sun rose and shined through the fog on the colorful trees along the river.  My son and I decided to go out with the 8 minute mile group (identified with Billy Baldwin), in order to keep our pace under control at the beginning.  But I was pretty sure that I wouldn't be able to out-kick him at the end if we were still together, so I thought I'd better push the pace during the middle miles.  So after five miles of 7:45 - 7:55 minutes, I surged and put down several in the 7:20s.  At the time, Casey appeared to be sticking with me just fine, though later he admitted that he was dying and only his loathing of losing to me kept him going.  If I had known that, I might have pushed a little harder, because I felt pretty good... until mile 10.  Then the pace took its toll on me.  We were still together at mile marker 12, but that last mile I could only run a 7:35 while he had a 7:20 left in him.  As he started leaving me behind that last mile, my only hope was that he might take a wrong turn somewhere.  No such luck for me this time.  Youth beats experience.

It was really an epic race.  I'm sure that neither of us would have run close to the times we did on our own.  I was trying hard to beat him, but unlike his feelings on the matter, I don't really mind losing to him all that much.  I feel a certain amount of pride at seeing him win.  I suppose that's the non-symmetric nature of a father-son relationship that gives rise to things like the Oedipus complex.

Speaking of the third member of the Oedipal triangle (though I can't really see how the complex fits here), my aforementioned good wife completed her fifth half-marathon.  She wasn't thrilled with her time, and probably should have stayed with the Oprah pace group rather trying the P-Diddy group (they define their pace groups by celebrities who have run a marathon at that pace).  But she made it, and we're very proud of
her.  Now it is time to eat some ice cream.

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