Sunday, October 12, 2014

Lessons Learned from "my" First Cross Country Season

Well, we are nearly to the end of my high school Freshman son's first cross country season. Here are a few of the things I've learned this year that make next year seem way less scary:

1. Find a friend with an older child among the parents of other team members, so they can hold your hand and walk you through whatever you need when you have millions of questions because your son is a black hole of information. A certain Miss Katey has been my guardian angel throughout this season!

2. When ordering spirit wear/foot wear/ bags/ gear in JUNE, remember that while the kids will be competing in hazy, hot, and humid August, they will also be competing in October and November, which seem to now mean snow here in Ohio. 

3. Also, it's not cheap. You think, "Oh, great, running! You just need a pair of sneakers, right?" No. Two pairs of high quality running shoes, spikes, running socks. PLUS the pay to play fees and booster fees. It's still cheaper than football, but a pair of Nikes from the sale rack at Famous footwear kind of cheap it is not.

4. Accept that if your runner already had a high metabolism BEFORE the season began, their metabolism is now bordering on ridiculous. In fact, if your child is home, just expect his face to be either stuffed in the fridge or stuffed full of food. (Expect your grocery bill to reflect the difference.)

5. Just accept that you are going to see a lot of kids throwing up. And foaming at the mouth. This is apparently a thing with cross country runners. Who knew? The foaming thing is because it takes too long to turn and spit, so it all just hangs out on their faces until they're done racing. The puking? That's just how hard these kids are running. Not everyone does it, but I've seen more kids puking at cross country meets than I was prepared for.

6. All the races I personally have participated in, everyone on the sidelines cheers for every runner. This is not the case at cross country meets. The first time I realized this, I was surrounded by 40 other parents along the sidelines and since none of their school's runners were going by there was dead silence as all the other kids passed in front of us. I currently buck the system and clap and cheer for every runner, but am louder for our team. It's a compromise I can live with and only earns me minimal glares from other parents.

7. Watching a cross country race at the start line is like watching an old battle beginning! Check out these pictures, but imagine lots of yelling and feet thundering by!

All lined up and there goes the gun!

Distant yelling and thundering feet as they begin.

Wow! They're coming straight at me and fast, I better move! More yelling, clapping, and thundering!

And now, that huge long line starts to funnel into one narrow line. And they will run over you if you don't move.

Seriously, people, THUNDERING feet!

And there they go getting ready to shove each other out of the way as they round the first corner.

8. Attending a cross country meet is not like watching other sports. You do not get to go and sit on some bleachers. Well, sometimes they have some there, but rarely are they used for sitting. Instead you watch the start and then run yourself all over the course to be able to catch the runners and cheer for them at 3 or 4 different points on the course. Not a passive event at all.

9. The upside is that a race is over in less than 25 minutes! So, I can get there, scope out the course, watch the girls team, watch my son's team, talk to the rest of the kids post race and leave all in less than an hour! It's a thing of beauty!

10. I appreciate how hard my son is learning to work, but also how nice everyone on the team is. I heard some coach from another school giving his kids a "pep" talk and there was much yelling and sports cliches. Our coaches are excessively chill, which gives the whole team a very nice vibe. None of the boys feel less than or pressured. They just want to do their best, and if that's what they bring the coaches are happy. It's a nice bunch of kids, too. Slackers in any sense of the word are not generally drawn to cross country running it would seem.

I'm sincerely glad he decided to run this year, and I hope he keeps up with it throughout high school. That being said, I'm looking forward to the relatively calm schedule of play and musical season. ;)

Look at those ENORMOUS feet! Size 13.5, people. Yikes!

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