Dean's first middle school Cross Country meet

last Wednesday I made a last minute decision...
I would attend Dean's first cross country meet
when I picked up Grant from school and we drove across town with my dog Didg riding shotgun
not giving Grant a say in our trajectory
not telling Grant where we were headed until he asked

we headed off to Colmar Manor Park
a place I had never been to before
I did a quick scan for it on the iPhone and weaved my way across town trying to find this place I had never been to before

the map directions on the iPhone were matched up to a print off of directions I had taken from a website about the middle school cross country meets
I had the basic idea of where I was heading
but had a tad bit of anxiety of missing the meet

sure I knew the kids left school early
did not know what time they would start running

the cross town shuffle was the classic bit of urban anxiety
as I drove through the neighborhoods the double parked vehicles cause the need for cars to merge to one lane
this on top of construction
there was a great deal of construction on the route we selected to get across town

the flow of traffic was less than flowy

the traffic does not have to be as bad as it is
so often the double parked cars
or the cars obstructing the flow lanes 
these cars were parked blocking the flow of traffic
when there were legal vacant spots within view

people... people suck
people are either ignorant
people are assholes
either way... people suck!

we got there...
with Grant's help I made a turn onto the road by the sign that read Colmar Manor Park and then something about the Dueling Grounds
the road snaked through nothingness
but when I saw orange flags marking what could be a running trail I felt at ease and found a parking spot
as I parked the cars I saw clusters of kids wearing cross country uniforms with the names of various DC Public School written on their chest

I was at the right place

kids were finishing up...
coaches were screaming out
parents were taking photos and giving advice
I tried to get a measure of what was going on

in the distance I saw a pavillion and what looked to be the Start Finish
with the dog on the leash Grant and I migrated in that direction
before reaching the pavillion Grant asked if he could play on the playground
sure... don't wander.... I will come and get you

sure enough...
I arrived on time
my older son Dean's age group was just lining up
I approached the men that appeared to be the Alice Deal coaches and introduced myself
then I asked if I could give my son a drink

water bottles filled with instant Gatorade had been forgotten by the front door at home
luckily I had a few Capri Suns
it seems that I always have Capri Suns
so... I asked the coach if I could give my son a drink

Dean was shocked to see his father
not bothered... just shocked
my arrival was not planned
which made our meeting unexpected

I gave Dean the Capri Sun and then some parental advice
the advice was simple... don't go out too hard... pace yourself... then go hard at the end...
I did not say the words "leave it on the course"
but I wanted him to "leave it on the course"
I also did not want him to go hard and hit the wall
this being his first meet I did not want to say much
I did not like where Dean had lined himself up
he was in a bad starting position
but... I had to let that be 
hopefully these things will be learned over time
some things needed to be learned by oneself 

I retracted from the line up
a number of kids got distracted by the dog
I had to send them back to the line and get ready for the start
the Alice Deal coach gave some advice
then a person who must have been the official\race director lead a short pre-race meeting and then released the group

sure enough...
Dean was in a bad starting position
the start line was about 100 kids wide
at the release the young boys started to funnel into single file and two by two
with the poor selection of starting position Dean was one of the last kids in line

Dean is a good little athlete
pace is a difficult thing for a runner at any age
especially on an unfamiliar course with lots of rolling hills

with the kids on the course I made contact with some parents I knew
I cheered on kids as they raced by and of course... I snapped a few photos

I did not catch Dean at the halfway point
but I was there for the finish

Dean was moving at a good pace
with the finish within view I cheered him on and instructed him to pick up a few slots
Dean passed one kid and then got on the heels of another
I shouted out to keep passing kids
but Dean did nothing... until another father from the neighborhood gave the same instructions
then Dean passed one more... maybe two more kids

it sucks to get passed at the finish...
but... that is racing
that is the tale of the tape

Dean was winded and tired
maybe more from the hard effort at the finish than from the race as a whole

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