The fine print on a son-run

So I’m hunkered down in a comfy chair with a chest cold and a page-turner  after a draining day of moving Rowan into her dorm at Manchester when Ben comes in from mowing and says, “Hey Mom, wanna go for a run?”

Bob took this shot of Ben at Saturday’s cross country meet.

I ought to rest. I ought to be suspicious, because our 14-year-old never invites me on a run. Instead, I find myself saying “Sure!” with as much enthusiasm as I can muster, given that it’s past my bedtime even on a good night.

He wants to drive down to Norwell to jog a couple of laps around the school in his new Nike Free Runs, which feel like slippers after doing time in motion-control Brooks that helped correct an over-pronation issue.

I figured he’d take off and leave me and my hacking cough behind, but it turns out he also wants to rehash the Bi-County conditioner, which was inconveniently scheduled during my Saturday morning shift on the copy desk.

He wasn’t thrilled with his splits on a Hokum Karom-style race in which guys alternated running six 1-mile loops. But I remind him that he’s just a freshman, still figuring out how to run. The important thing is that he’s having fun. And he is, though it’s unclear which he enjoys more — the team runs or the locker room hacky sack games played with an empty Gatorade bottle.

By lap 2, Ben produces an embarrassed grin and his ulterior motive: He was hoping to practice driving around the school parking lot after our run. He especially loves shifting gears in our commuter car, a little Chevy Aveo we just happened to drive over here.

“Sure,” I say. “I’m glad we got a little run in first, though. Helped clear my lungs out.”

He nods, then zooms off to finish his lap, already shifting into driving mode.

The start of the Hokum Karom-format race. Ben’s No. 928 in the center, in the red spikes. (Thanks to Cindy Weirick for sharing this pic, which includes her son Tyler to Ben’s immediate left.)

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