Monday, June 11, 2012

AAU State Meet recap & a State Champion

Yesterday was the AAU state meet. It was so much fun! I can't believe how much I have grown to love this sport. I don't think I had a true appreciation for how much effort running is until I started doing it myself a couple years ago. These kids are so inspiring!

It was a hot and windy day. Gavin was slated for the 400m, 1500m, and 800m - but the 400m was first thing in the morning and the other two events weren't until the afternoon. Hanging out in the heat all day didn't sound like a recipe for success, so we pulled him from the 400 - that is his least competitive event any way.

He hung out at home in the morning while I reminded him to drink water every 2.5 seconds. He really loves that part. I ran around frantically making sure we got everything packed, registration cards printed, directions printed, and Sam ready for t-ball.

T-ball is a whole other post, but let's say that it took exactly my predicted 3 games for Sam to warm up. He was out there chasing balls like a champ!

Gavin sat in the van and played his video game with the windows rolled down while Sam had his game. Usually we make Gavin come support Sam's events, but it was so hot out that he got a pass this time.

By the time the game got over, the meet was running behind, so we had time to swing by Planet Sub for sandwiches, and then hit the road for Indianola. Sam, predictably, fell asleep about 15 minutes before we got there. I told Chad to text me when we should head in, and we planned to sit in the air conditioning and relax a bit. But then we saw Gavin's team mate (the other 7 yr old speedster that always beats Gav by a couple seconds!) and Gavin wanted to walk in with him.

Of course, Sam woke up as soon as I opened the door and after a couple minutes wanted to head in to the meet as well. Our team was gathered under/around 3 tents on the end of the track between the 200/100 start lines, so we had a great view of the action. We set up camp and Sam started lap hopping.

It took a good hour and a half before Gavin's event was called and then I got super nervous like I always do before he runs the 1500. It's a long enough race that something could go wrong and end up with a DNF (do not finish). And little kids are so unpredictable. There were two heats of girls to go first, so I put my worries aside and cheered on our girls.

And then an amazing thing happened. See, I'm not terribly religious, but I do think about my loved ones that have passed often, and talk to them in my own private, silent way. With a big open heart, I closed my eyes and thought about my grandparents. A picture popped into my head of them sitting up in some high balcony, watching the meet, and my grandpa had a camcorder in his hand! He always brought a video camera to my dance recitals, so it was perfect. Then my head went blank and I could just feel their love around me and I knew it would be ok. Cheesy, right? But that's how it went down and I was very calm after that moment.

The boys lined up, the gun went off.......and they started too fast but quickly settled back into a good pace. Well, a little slow pace. Gavin is usually a fairly evenly paced runner, and on his first lap he was a little slow. Then he starts talking to his team mate - I can see it happening on the other side of the track! "What are you doing Gavin? You can't talk during a race!" I said out loud, but he wasn't anywhere close to be able to hear it.

As he came around the second time, he started to put some distance between himself and his team mate, which is unusual. He still seemed a little slow too, so I encouraged him to pick it up a bit. He team mate came by and his dad noticed he must have a bad cramp. As they reached the track on the opposite side of us his dad said "oh, and now he's crying". So hard! I don't know what I would do if that were my kid. But he kept running and finished the race!

Gavin passed me a third time and I yelled out that he had one more lap - he looked at me and said "sprint?" and started to take off and I quickly yelled, "no, no, one more lap, but you need to pick up the pace".

As he came around the last time, he definitely tried to pick up the pace the last lap, but couldn't hold it. He had his personal worst time of 6:30. I was hoping he could better his 6:25 time that he had run in similar heat conditions, but there was also wind to factor in yesterday. He still snagged the gold medal - but it was only him and his team mate in that age group. We'll take it.

I had talked to him that morning about how the meet would go down. He is normally VERY grumpy with a huge attitude when he gets done running that 1500m. I told him that he would come to the tent, sit, get iced down, drink some gatorade, and by all means, keep his mouth shut. We didn't have time to deal with him mouthing off. He complied very well!

We had another probably hour at least wait until his next event was called, so he had plenty of time to cool off.

I wasn't expecting a whole lot from his 800m race. By this time Sam was getting tired of the whole thing, and thank goodness for the nice mom that chips in and entertains him! She kept an eye on him for the 1500 for me. For the 800 he was ready to go.home! so I pushed him over to my spot at the 100m start line to cheer on Gavin. The gun went off and one kid distanced himself fairly quickly from the rest of the boys, and Gavin, his teammate, and another kid were bunched together. It turned out to be a really exciting race, as our two boys worked to overtake the third boy. Then Gav and his team mate leap frogged back and forth the rest of the race. As they passed me on the last 100m stretch, his team mate had pulled away, and the other boy was closing in on him. "Sprint, Gavin, he's right behind you!! Go!!"

And Gavin turned around not once but TWICE! That is the kids biggest racing mistake, he can not help himself.

Nevertheless, he finished in record time - we don't have official times yet, but he took about 5 seconds off his personal best. In the heat, and after running the 1500m. He earned a bronze medal for that one.

Later he told me that while running the 1500m, he slowed down to run with his team mate, and that he was asking him if he was ok, and trying to give him a pep talk.

When we got home, I asked him how it felt to win a gold medal, he just kind of shrugged and said "I don't know". I asked him if it felt any different than winning silver or bronze. "Not really", he replied.

That's my kid. He has the biggest heart of gold. He gets excited about winning a medal, but doesn't care what color. He slows down out of concern for a team mate. He is much more competitive when he is working for a team - in soccer, or on a relay, but doesn't put as much stock in his individual accomplishment.

It's a wonderful gift to have a child that has such integrity and character. In parenting there are hard days, good days, better days, and days when you wonder why the heck anyone has kids. And then there are days where they teach you what is truly important in life. He was so proud to tell me that he slowed to check on his friend, eager for a pat on the back for doing what he saw as the right thing to do in that moment. Kindness for the win!

Here are some pictures courtesy of Grandpa Dan from the Hoover meet June 2nd. I have lots of pictures to get posted and caught up on....someday I will find the time!