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Where does the time go?

September 11, 2011

That’s what I’ve asked myself each time Ian has run a meet.

Yesterday there was a big invitational meet at Maxwell Park in Normal. Great park, nice and wide open, and more or less flat, save for a small and short uphill run at the start line (well planned, course layer outers, well planned). There were at least 20 schools, if not upward of 30 or possibly closer to 40, at this meet. Lots and lots of runners. There was a team from East Peoria there that had personalized warmups and nice- REALLY nice- matching gear bags. Someone has a lot of PTO money. Quite impressive. Glenwood Middle School (Chatham) and Grant Middle School (Springfield) were also in attendance. If any other city or area schools were there, I didn’t consciously notice them. There was a BUNCH of kids there. According to Ian’s coach after the meet, there were about 1700 total runners. I estimated possibly 500. I was WAY off.

Anyhow, it was a beautiful day for a cross-country meet. The girls’ “varsity” teams (the seven best runners on each team) ran first, followed by the boys’ varsity, the girls’ open race (everyone else not on varsity), and then the boys’ open race. Ian was somewhat hopeful he might make the varsity for this meet, but he was in the open.

This course, according to several people we talked to, is somewhat known for personal bests. Apparently, a lot of kids tend to do well at Maxwell Park. Ian said prior to his race that he feels like he does better on fairly hilly courses, like his home park of Lincoln, and since this course really wasn’t very hilly, he said he doesn’t think he’ll have a “great” race time, but still hoped to beat his personal best of 17:03.

When Ian’s race started, I swear I thought I was having a heart attack. My heart instantly started racing (pardon the pun), my stomach started churning, my mouth went dry, and I was breathing incredibly hard. You’d have thought I was running this damned race. I was antsy right from the start. Couldn’t stand still. So anyway, the race started, I turned on the stopwatch, and Dawn and I staked a claim along the chute to watch the finish. Within about 11 minutes or so, the first wave of kids came down the final stretch. Of course, the place is going nuts.

We’re watching for LMS kids- the kids had to wear their numbers up high on their shirts, so we could not read the “LEOPARDS” that is printed on their jerseys. We had to look for the gold leopard’s head on their shorts to distinguish them from other black uniforms. So I spot a leopard head, and it was J.D., their usual leader. A little while later, the unmistakable thick blond mane worn by Will came into view as he came up the chute. Then, the pack got thicker and thicker, and it became harder and harder to make figures out, let alone to identify anyone. All of a sudden, I spotted Ian’s face as he was attempting to make a move on our side. So I slap Dawn a thousand times on the arm, saying “Here comes Ian! There’s Ian!”. I think I may have bruised her. Sorry, Honey. I grab the stopwatch (didn’t look at it), he runs past us as we are ska-reaming our support for him, and as he crosses the finish, I hit the button on the stopwatch. Dawn says, “Is that a personal best??” I looked at the stopwatch and about pooped.


He knocked more than 30 seconds off his best time- again! He’s gone from a team qualifying time of 19:38 to 18:32 to 17:06 to 16:27, in the span of sixteen days. According to Coach O’s report on her website, Ian’s unofficial time was 16:26. Hopefully they’ll have the official results up soon and I can update this post. I don’t know in what place he finished, nor do I know how many kids ran in his race, but he again knocked the crap out of his personal best by 37 [unofficial] seconds. I reiterated on the way home that it’s going to be even harder still to beat his personal best- naturally, the lower his time, the harder it becomes to beat- and that he can’t be discouraged if he doesn’t beat his best every time, but he seems to seriously have the drive to work at it.

I truly believe he has really found his niche, sports-wise. He still wants to play baseball, and still enjoys it- in fact, he even asked if we’d be “mad if, at some point whether in middle school or high school, he tried out for baseball and didn’t do cross-country, and then went back to it [XC] the next year”. I told him of course we would not be mad, not in the least. I did say that if he wants to do that, I think his freshman year in high school would be the best (or, at least in my mind, the most logical) time to attempt that, but I didn’t tell him that I really kind of hope he sticks with cross-country, as much as I cringe to hear myself say that.

I’m a baseball guy. I played little league baseball for nine years, I was the “manager” (i.e., scorekeeper) for the junior varsity team in high school (I wasn’t nearly good enough to attempt to make the team as a player), I umpired baseball for a few years, and, of course, I coach Ian’s summer team. I love baseball and would love nothing more for my son to play baseball for as long as he enjoys it. But here’s the thing- after less than three weeks of watching him run cross-country and seeing not only how legitimately good at it he is and how much positive effect it has on him, I believe I can honestly say that I would be perfectly at peace if he gave up baseball to focus solely on cross-country.

I never thought I’d get excited over watching kids run, let alone get SO excited that I would be okay with Ian never playing a single pitch of baseball again. I am not sure how he feels about it completely yet, but I genuinely believe- again, even only after three weeks- that his true calling in the realm of sports is to run cross-country. And it is so much FUN as a parent and spectator. Maybe it’s just because I coach him, but in baseball, I am so stressed the entire game. But with cross-country, I get an excitement that I just don’t get- or, perhaps, as yet haven’t gotten- with baseball.

Weird. But awesome. Keep it up, Ian.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Dawn permalink
    September 11, 2011 4:02 pm

    I thought I kept saying”it’s a new personal , it’s a new personal best!!!!!”. I saw the clock and I think I ran over the mom standing behind me.

    • Johann permalink*
      September 12, 2011 6:17 pm

      Well, whatever you said. :p

      And yeah, we did pretty much trample the chick behind us.

  2. SpringfieldZebra permalink
    September 12, 2011 10:37 am

    Way to go, Ian!!! Keep up the good work!

    Juan, let me know when the next meet is. I have to referee a H.S. FB game Friday, and umpire a Jr. Hi. Baseball Regional Saturday (10:00 and 12:00) and Monday (4:30).

    • Johann permalink*
      September 12, 2011 6:17 pm

      Will do. I sent you an email earlier today with the remaining schedule. The next meet is this Saturday in Franklin, IL (obviously, you won’t be available for that one), and the next after that is next Tuesday the 20th at Lincoln Park at 3:30pm. Hope to see you there!

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