By the time I arrived back at the track after lunch to watch the last events, though, the skies had opened up and rain was teeming down, drenching the students and teachers and volunteers who stood in huddles under a multi-coloured sea of umbrellas. They had reached the point in the meet where it made more sense to carry on to the end of it rather than trying to reschedule the remaining events for another day, and so soggy boys and girls wiped rain from their faces as they waited, tense and ready, for the starter's signal.
Noah happened to be standing near me when we heard the announcer call the 800m race, his last event for the day.
"Are they seriously going to do this?" he grumbled in frustrated disbelief as the rain continued to pour down in torrents.
"They are," I replied cheerfully. "Just go do it -- it's only rain, and you'll be fine. Good luck!"
It was clear as soon as he began running that Noah had quickly shaken off any negativity, and that every part of him was concentrating on making his body do what he wanted it to as he settled into a powerful rhythm. Water splashed up in bursts as his feet struck the rain pooling in massive puddles around the inner lane of the track, but that didn't slow him down. As he rounded the last curve, he gave everything he had in a final burst of speed, and even from a distance I could sense the triumph he felt as he plunged across the finish line. His performance earned him a first place finish for his grade, and, for the first time ever for him, a spot at the area track meet in June.
Afterwards, Noah told me half-jokingly that he ran so quickly because he wanted to get out of the rain. It was certainly true that the weather could have cooperated better so the kids didn't need to wring themselves out once they were under shelter. But sometimes a rainy track and field meet teaches valuable lessons, doesn't it? Noah had the chance to experience first hand that when life gets messy and uncomfortable, which it most certainly will, he has it in him to push through and find great personal success on the other side. Often, the sweetest rewards are the ones we had to work hardest for.