Okay, so last Monday, Ian had a meet at Lincoln Park, and finished with a very respectable 15:12, coming in 24th out of 53 runners. Pretty sure that’s his best time ever on the Lincoln Park course. Naturally, he’s not thrilled with that time.
Today was the Franklin Invitational meet, coincidentally run in Franklin, IL. This course is a mostly flat course with some slight slope in some areas (across which the kids don’t like running) and, according to Ian, a big ditch “you gotta jump over unless you want to break your ankles”.
I swear, I’ve told that kid a million times not to exaggerate.
Anyway, this is a flighted meet, which means that the #1-ranked runners on each team run against each other in a boys’ race and a girls’ race, then the #2-ranked runners all run against each other, et cetera, through the #7-ranked runners. All others run in the open race, or what is called the 8th Man race.
Points-wise, Ian was the top-ranked runner on Lincoln’s team. Coach Lynn showed me that at school when I dropped Ian off this morning, and said, “I think I may see if he wants to defer to Karl on that.” The reason Ian was ranked #1 in points is because, for whatever reason, Karl didn’t run in that very first meet back in August, so even though he always finishes ahead of Ian, Ian still has more points, because he has run more races.
Shocker, but Ian about pooped himself taking himself out of that first flight. I can’t really blame him; he’d be running against some of the best runners in central Illinois, if not the entire state. I wouldn’t want that pressure either- not when there are faster kids than I on the team. And coaches have discretion on how they rank their runners. Sometimes they’ll have their #3 run in the #1 flight, for example, to give him or her some experience. Obviously you don’t want to put your 12:00 runner in the open race with kids that are running 14, 15, and 16 minute races- or at least I wouldn’t think so- but I imagine somebody at some point has done so. Or at least attempted it.
So anyway, this meet almost wasn’t, at least in relation to Lincoln Magnet School. The meet was to start at 9:45. I got there around 8:45 or so and got the canopy set up. I figured they’d be there any moment.
9:00. No team.
9:15. No team.
9:25. No team. So I called Coach, and he tells me the bus driver got them lost. They’ve passed the turn off of 104. Twice. By now, they’re calling last call for the coaches meeting. I ran to the head starter and informed him that LMS’s team isn’t here yet because the bus is lost. Luckily, he knows Mrs. Heyen (LMS’s principal) very well, and he coached her husband when he ran cross-country for Franklin H.S. I told him, “I’m only a parent, but can I fill in for the coach?” He was okay with that and gave me the coach’s packet.
So I get back to the canopy, at which several parents are gathering and wondering where the hell their kids are. I’m trying to get them calmed down when I hear, “FIRST CALL, 8TH MAN BOYS. FIRST CALL, 8TH MAN BOYS.” Which means they’re lining kids up, and our runners AREN’T EVEN FRIGGIN’ HERE YET.
Second call goes out. Still no team. Third call- which is usually last call- and finally, I see Coach. So I go darting over to him with the packet, and he and I are scrambling to get kids tagged for that first flight. Luckily, there were only about 4-5 kids running in that race. It also helped that the head starter knew Coach and knows Mrs. Heyen and her husband. Big shout-out to Rick.
So we get settled in- FINALLY- and start getting races going. 7th Man girls, 7th Man boys, 6th Man girls, 6th Man boys. I’m running between the start line and our camp, finding the runner(s) for each race and getting them lined up at the start. Last year, they ran each race to completion before starting the next. This year, the first 7-8 races were just boom-boom-boom, one right after the other. For several races, the leaders of one race were lapping the last place runner(s) of the race ahead of them. So when the 8th Man girls’ race, with probably between 200-250 runners, took off, they decided to slow it down a little bit.
The races are continuing. 5th Man girls, 5th Man boys, 4th Man girls, 4th Man boys, 3rd Man girls. Then comes Ian’s race- the 3rd Man boys’ race. His biggest worry- besides being convinced he’ll finish last- is that he’s right by the starter and the gun will make him go deaf. His race steps off with little to no inner ear damage. I found Coach Lynn and told him that Ian just stepped off, and Lillian is set for the 2nd Man girls race next and Karl’s ready for the 2nd Man boys race after that and- and he stops me and says, “John- I got this. Go time your son.” So I pick a spot at the finish line and just wait.
I had no idea how much running *I* had been doing today. I realized I was friggin’ tired.
Anyway, long story short (too late), Ian finished with a VERY respectable 15:15. Last year’s time at this meet was 17:02, so I was hoping for near a 16:00 finish. He beat the snot out of that and then some. He finished 16th out of 18th runners- naturally, that’s all he remembers- but considering he was running against some of central Illinois’ best, I am crazy stupid ridiculous proud of how he did, and I’m trying to convince him he needs to be as well. He got a ribbon for placing, and he’s sluffing that off, saying that all finishers 1-25 get a ribbon, so since there were only 18 in his race, he’d have gotten a ribbon anyway.
Thanks, Dr. Downer.
Next meet this coming Tuesday, at Lincoln Park. We’re hosting Grant, Washington, Lincoln, and Blessed Sacrament-St. Agnes. The next after that will be the following Tuesday in Chatham. That should pretty much be a bloodbath. Chatham kids train year-round, and they have a running club in which the kids get together and just run. I can’t even convince Ian it’ll help him to run on weekends.
But hey, a good humbling now and again keeps one grounded, yes?