I Killed the Waterboy


The first steps of the second half of my life

I killed the waterboy on May 15, 2011. There, I said it. Guilty as charged! It’s only fair that I pay the price. So, as judge, jury and executioner, I hereby sentence myself to… LIFE!

I  had been planning it for a whole year. I knew the exact day and time I would – once-and-for-all – take the little sissy out. The night before I actually did it, I couldn’t sleep. The anticipation was just too much. I mean, I was going to pull off an execution right in the middle of a very large crowd, at the beginning of a very public event. My own kids were going to be right beside me when I did it. I even gave my daughter my camera to take a picture the moment it happened. I must be crazy, or determined; probably both.

I concocted the crazy scheme one year before- to the day- while sitting on the side of the road watching life pass me by. For the THIRD time in as many years, life was literally passing me by.

As a member of America’s largest service organization, the Boy Scouts of America, I have the pleasure of providing community service with some of the finest young men in the Central Valley. Once a year, Kaiser Permanente hosts a local 5K/ Half Marathon called Avenue of the Vines. The Boy Scouts do many things for the community, and on this day, they man the aid stations for thirsty runners. Spread out across the miles, the young men hand out water and energy drinks; and an occasional splash in the face for exhausted runners.

This particular morning, my son and I were scheduled to work the aid station on Mile 11 of 13; the last watering hole in the race. We had been handing out water steadily when I saw her. Even now, two years later, I can see her face. A sweaty, wrinkled brow, leathery complexion and a slight smile. As she slowed for a quick drink, she joked with the boys that they need to sing Happy Birthday to her – 70 years old! I had to remind myself that we were at Mile 11. The boys were still singing as she ran on by with a quick wave and a fist pump.  How cool is that.

Moments later, I saw a much younger man running hard toward the boys. He was pushing a stroller with a child; no, two. Twins! Mile 11… and he kept running right on by.

I didn’t know it then, but I was about to make a decision that would change my life. What I saw next became my tipping point.

I was replenishing a pitcher when I looked at the next small group of runners coming our way. A middle-aged man caught my eye. It might have been his lime green shirt, or the fact that he was encouraging a fellow runner that was struggling to keep up with him. Then I heard him say, “If I can do it, you can do it.” I noticed his odd gait – an off-balance waddle- as he slowed to greet the boy scouts and grab some liquid energy. I couldn’t help but notice the boys staring at his legs, when I saw his carbon fiber prosthetics; two of them. Mile 11 and a double-amputee is owning this race.  Then, as if he was whispering to me, I recalled what he just told his fellow runner, “If I can do it, you can do it.”

Spielberg couldn’t have scripted it any better. Three of the most unassuming, influential people I’ll never meet just changed my life. I decided then and there, I wasn’t going to be a waterboy anymore. No more standing on the sidelines, handing out water to people who are having more fun than me. I told my scouts that I was done watching life pass by. I was truly, deeply inspired.

Fast forward one year to the day; May 15, 2011. I was with the Boy Scouts again at Avenue of the Vines, but this time it was different.  No more standing on the sidelines, watching life pass by. My days of handing out water were over. On this day, I would run the race. As the starting gun popped, I took the first few steps of the second half of my life, and I knew that I had killed the waterboy, once-and-for-all.



Editors Note: photo, courtesy C. Douros
 
At the finish line in 33:20
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6 thoughts on “I Killed the Waterboy

  1. Pingback: Sidelined By Runner’s Knee: Patellofemoral Pain | runwritedig

  2. Pingback: Lessons Learned in 4.5 Miles on the Track « runwritedig

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