Gavin ran in the USATF Nebraska Association meet this weekend. As many meets as he has won, he has yet to be a USATF state champion. He has done it at AAU - but not USATF. I was sure this would be his weekend - after all he was undefeated on the track coming into this meet.
I wasn't able to see him run Saturday for the 800m as I was in Lincoln with Sam for t-ball and the meet was on the north side of Omaha. I got the text that he came in second and knew immediately who had beat him. There is a kid that runs for Omaha that Gavin has gone up against in regional meets ever since he first started running the 1500. And this kid has beat him every.single.time. Gavin had beat him in preliminary meets this season, but this kid almost always pulls out a PR in the meets that matter.
So come Sunday, Gavin was motivated to win. We hadn't told him that this kid had been beating him since 2012, just that he had a slower PR. Gavin was nervous, but also confident in his abilities in the 1500 - he knows the distance is better suited to him than the 800m. We spent Saturday evening trying to discuss strategies, confusing the poor kid, and in the end just said "you know what you are doing. Run your own race."
Sunday was a beautiful day for running, without the crazy wind we had on Saturday. Gavin warmed up, and then had to rush to check in - they ended up starting the event 12 minutes early! They were running half an hour late the day before. At least he didn't sit around getting cold before his race.
I always stand on the 100m start line and Chad stands at the 1500m start line, halfway around the track from me. The biggest thing we had told him was to not look back - he has improved a lot of things in his running, but this is still a bad habit. I promised him that with the two of us on opposite sides of the track, we would communicate and let him know how close people were to him.
After the race, Gavin shared his strategy - he figured since the kid was a strong 800 runner, that he would go out fast, so Gavin wouldn't push the pace the first lap. When he passed me the first time, 200m into the race, he was right behind this kid, and I shouted at Gavin to just stay on his shoulder and not let him get away.
About 350m into the race, Gavin must have realized the pace was a little slow, and passed him and started to pull away. He ran a nice steady race, and each time he passed me, I told him to hold his pace and form, that he was putting distance between himself and the kid behind him. When he crossed the line for the final lap, I saw him to pick it up a little more - and was a little worried he was going to burn out. By the time they reached the straightaway on the opposite side of the track, it looked like the kid in second was getting tired - but didn't want to underestimate the power of the final kick - Gavin has a lot of endurance, but less raw speed. I was just hoping he could hold on, and I had no concept of whether or not it was possible for this kid to close the gap if he went into a dead sprint or something. When Gavin passed me a final time, I could see the second place kid was still going to fight for it, so I told him he needed to GO! Just look forward and go.
He did - running to a first place finish and a time of 5:19.44. In addition to a gold medal, and a spot on the podium, they gave all the first place finishers champion t shirts!
This is the only picture I got at the race. I was close to passing out at the end from all the yelling and not breathing going on for 5 minutes. We celebrated with ice cream on the way home!