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All others just play games.

The final meet of the season was the multi district meet at Shoreline Stadium.

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Fourteen schools with up to fifteen of their best runners on each team. Four races all over two miles. The stands were full. The meet began with everyone standing for the Star Spangled Banner. Then the announcer reminded everyone to cheer for all the kids. Really, how could you not?

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These kids work so hard. Between the positivity of the announcer and just watching the kids leave their guts on the track, it reminded me of Coach Erika and her team. At one of the parent meetings at the beginning of the season she explained that Cross Country is a no cut sport. If you want to run you can be part of the family. Then she said that the running teams don’t have problems with bullying or cliques or any of those types of problems. “These kids don’t have time and they work too hard to have those problems.”

I thought of that statement along with all my memories of her united team. I think runners are a special breed. I watch these kids push themselves to the limits and beyond. It’s tempting to ask why. Why would anyone do that to themselves? The answer is because they can. Because they will run faster tomorrow than they did today. Because surpassing oneself is the greatest accomplishment in the world.

Gavin’s school rocked the meet. They had runners finish in the top ten of every race. The team placed third for 7th grade girls and boys. Heath and I were trying to strategically place ourselves along the course to cheer on Gavin. We didn’t hear how the school did in the 8th grade girls race. Parker enjoyed his bragging rights at school that morning when Gavin’s name was announced as finishing in the top 25 of the last race before the elite multi district meet.

Last week’s meet was hard to watch because it was so muddy and rainy. I saw many kids slip on the wet grass or slip in the mud. When you know how hard these kids are working it’s hard to keep the tears at bay when something unfair like that happens. But they all get up and keep on going.

This time I was standing near the first corner of the race. I wanted to cheer for Gavin and see where he was in the pack. I never did see him. The boys were still packed too tightly at that point in the race. Heath got a bunch of pictures but couldn’t see Gavin either. I can’t even find him in the pictures! We stood around for a minute waiting for the boys to come back through.

There was a loud scraping sound as a cone fell. The crowd gasped and many people asked if a boy was okay. We didn’t see it but apparently a kid slipped on a leaf in the middle of a hairpin turn. We found out later it was the fastest 8th grader from Gavin’s team. He finished the race but I think Gavin beat him.

One part of the course went right through the crowd in the stands. The runners came through the walkway between the upper bleachers and the lower bleachers. Everyone stood out of the way and cheered loudly for every single runner. It reminded me of my grandpa’s funeral when everyone stood in respect of the family walking into the chapel. It felt like angels filled the chapel and gym. That part of the race felt like angels cheering on God’s children.

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This was the longest race Gavin had ever competed in. I cheered him on and the grimace left his face. Heath called out, “Get three more Gavin!” as Gavin entered the track for the final lap of the race. My obedient boy passed one and a half kids right then and there! By the time he finished, he had passed three other runners.

Out of all those many cream of the crop runners, Gavin placed 49th! He finished the race in 13:46 according to Grandpa. Gavin never looks at his time and if anyone tells him he immediately forgets because his brain has been fricasseed on the track.

I’m nervous for every meet. This time I was particularly nervous. Heath kept laughing at me. This week is early release week for Parent Teacher Conferences, otherwise known as “What’s the Point Week.” The boys have been getting out at 12:15 every day while Gwen gets out at 1:00 every day. So Gavin came home on the bus with Parker and needed a ride back to school to catch the bus with his team to the meet.

 

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Gavin and the number one 8th grader on his team

 

He seemed extra quiet and distracted. When I asked what was wrong he admitted he was nervous for the meet. That only ramped up my anxiety! I didn’t want to stress him out so I tried not to say much at all when I took him back to school. As he got out I think I said something like, “Good luck, have fun, I love you!”

We both agree that nerves are good. They let you know you’re alive and they motivate you toward greatness. Obviously it worked. I was pleasantly surprised to hear he was invited to this multi district meet. To have him perform so well is just the icing on the cake. Wow I love watching him run!

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