The late Friday afternoon skies held the promise of rain with five shades of dark clouds hovering over the tops of the mountains. It was a good day for a race.
I was giddy with the anticipation of finally attending one of Coolister and ElemenoB's cross-country meets because nothing thrills me more than to see my kids thriving at the things I loved when I was their age.
Coolister's goal was to beat his most recent time on this same course - which he did by almost a full minute. I like to believe this had something to do with the maniacal screaming of his mother racing from place to place to cheer him on at the sidelines. (Humor me.)
ElemenoB's goal was to beat her personal best time by one second. She started strong, running in a tight pack with her teammates in the first stretch. By the time she came back around to where I was waiting, she had pulled ahead some. I screamed encouraging words and she smiled.
The next time I saw her, however, things were different. She was running at a slower pace than usual. I noticed that she was talking with a girl from another team and as they ran past me, she smiled again. I continued to watch her and cheer her on.
Each time ElemenoB looped past me on the course I caught snatches of her conversations with this same stranger from another school: Keep it up, you can do it. Just keep running. Don't stop now. The two of them stuck together throughout the race and as they came in for the finish the girl passed ElemenoB up and placed just ahead of her.
We checked ElemenoB's time... almost a full minute more than her personal best. "That's a lot better than I thought I did," she told me. I asked who the girl was and why ElemenoB had run with her instead of at her usual speed. She responded that the girl had begun to walk and seemed to need some encouragement. So encouragement was offered throughout the remainder of the race - even at the end when the girl passed her up.
Why? Because ElemenoB tells me that she gets more satisfaction at the end of a race from knowing she helped someone else finish than from improving her own time.
There are so many lessons to be learned from that.
A few tears escaped from the overflowing reservoir beneath my eyes, thankfully sheltered behind my sunglasses.
And so the rain did come, but not in the way I had expected. And it was beautiful.