I love this blog. I might secretly love it more than other, more important, things, which I shan't name (but which do not include members of my family, my dog, or my friends). However, as much as I had planned to write a report about the State XC meet, filled with thrilling details, I find myself feeling a tad on the slumpy side.
Let me say, first of all, that Sugar House Park (something I learned today: Sugar House is two, count 'em, two words, and not one, which has led to untold errors on my part in the past) is huge. That is, if you've told your parents and two aunts that you'd "keep an eye out" for them. Even so, I was able to find the starting line and, as a result, my son. There were a big bunch of runners. I stood behind the starting line (mini-DV camera in hand, shooting steadily with no fancy tricks, and, I'm hoping, no gratuitous sky shots or shaky pans of trees and grass), so I got to see how the start worked--the schools all had a slot, and three runners could be on the line, with the remainder of that school's runners behind those three.
Add to the hugeness of SHP its hilliness, its rolling terrain. After the race was over, as we hiked overland to our respective cars, I was able to see just how tough a race it was. Anyway, after the runners started, I got to see them pass at four different locations. As always, you can hear the runners coming before you see them, because the noise of the crowd swells and rolls toward you. It's still thrilling.
But. At the state meet, you compete against runners you've not seen before in the season (or you might have seen them, but maybe only once). That means, for instance, that the super-fast Utah County runners, high on life, apparently, come outta nowhere (there's a joke that goes with that, but I'll have to share it later, as I have a race to report). So the West Jordan runners, who were looking good on the first and second pass, by the third pass (past me, anyway) had fallen behind. It was on that third pass that I saw my son pass Josh for the last time ever, probably.
The look on Josh's face actually gave me pain. My son told me over the weekend that he liked beating Josh, and he didn't like it, and that's exactly how it looked. It's arguable, I guess, who is the best runner--one who, on a good day, really is faster than everyone else, or one who knows how to win in the high pressure races. Still, it's hard to watch a kid that talented fall apart.
After it was all over, and kids were milling around by the hundreds, I found my husband, and then my son's dad and stepmom, then my own parents and my two aunts. We couldn't find my son. He finished the race, 3 miles, at 17:39. When I talked to him on the phone later, he told me that he knew he could have run the race faster--he'd had a stomach ache.
It's funny, really, how an event that's supposed to be the fulfillment of a whole arc of preparation can feel so diminished in the experience. My son ran a race in which, by at least some measures, only the best runners qualified to compete. He didn't run his best, but he ran respectably, and finished first again for his school. His coaches want him to train year-round--they think he can cut another minute or more off his time. Josh has run his last high school cross country race. The season's over.