Here he is, preparing for his first race. He was so nervous that morning, he got up, ate breakfast, and put himself back to bed, trying to calm his nerves. You know how each person has unique mannerisms? That are dead give-aways to the trained parental eye? Here's one of Jonathan's - holding his head. Recalling my own glory days in track, I was nervous for him, remembering how my insides would churn before the start of each race. I'd be equally impatient - "let's just race already!" - and dread-filled - "I'm not ready!" But the difference between a pre-race Jonathan and pre-race me all those many moons ago? Jonathan has the mental stamina that I lacked. I knew he could do this.
As they lined up for the start of the 800m run, I had to pinch myself to keep from pacing and possibly translating my nervousness to Jonathan. I settled for taking 93 pictures to keep my mind occupied. (Yes, I said 93. I was really nervous.)
But I need not have worried - here he is, coming in FIRST! First place! MY BOY CAME IN FIRST! I'm just a wee bit proud.
This little stinker... he ran his fastest pace ever for the first 600m, and then at the last 200m mark (and the 200m is a brutal sprinting distance, by the way), he turned it on and he sprinted the last 200m! We all sat with our mouths hanging open while the coach gave us thumbs up signs from the infield. He finished with a time of 3:04. Yay Jonathan!
Here he is with his first place medal!
Next was the 400m, which is one lap around the track - a 1/4 mile. This race is a sprint and is rather grueling - and I should know, because I used to run it. He came in third in this race. But let's look at his form - beautiful. The sprint coach calls it "cheek pocket" - as your hands should go straight up and down from cheek to pocket. "Cheek pocket! Cheek pocket! Cheek pocket!" We like saying "Cheek pocket!" 'round here. Wish I'd had that for my bag of tricks when I coached track and field.
(Notice how I keep infusing the post with my own glory days. I'm sorry.)
Next up was the mile, but here was the problem - since the kids are younger, they don't have all the events. There are no hurdles, there's only one relay, and there's no two-mile run, for instance. That meant Jonathan's 400m race and his mile run were back-to-back, and since he was in a late heat for the 400m, he had about 1-2 minutes to rest before taking position to begin the mile. Like worried mother hens, my mom and I were saying he didn't have to do it if he didn't feel well - he looked rather pale, the nervousness of the day catching up to him added to the fatigue from running hard - but he shook his head and took his place. The coaches came up to give him some pointers, and more than one timer said, "Dude, this kid just ran the 400m! Way to double-up, Buddy!" while giving him a high-five. Jonathan suppressed a proud smile and tried to catch his breath before the starter fired his gun.
During lap 3, a girl who'd been tailing Jonathan passed him, and thinking back, I remembered how that's just the sort of thing that can take the gumption right out of ya. But not Jonathan. On the last 100m stretch of lap 4, he kicked it in....
And he passed that (poor) grrl! She stayed with him, but he didn't let up. I don't know where he found it, but he had a nice little kick at the end.
The sprint coach told me at practice last week that's the difference between an athlete and a champion - champions can dig deep inside and find "it" within themselves - and win.
And win he did. Jonathan honey? I knew you had it in you. All that commitment finally paid off.