Today, I wanted to make a pineapple upside down cake for my dad, because it's his birthday and that's his favorite. When I was looking online for a recipe, I was SO overwhelmed. There are so many different recipes for the same cake! I actually kind of miss the days when there weren't all those options--you just used the recipe that was in your cookbook. My dad's cake ended up turning out good, though:
Anyways, yesterday was Noah's first cross country invitational. It was at the State Park, so he was familiar with the location, but we had run on the paved bike paths. For cross country, the entire race is on grass. It was a really pretty day outside, but kind of hot for an afternoon race--almost 80 degrees. I was nervous for Noah, because neither of us had ever been to a cross country invitational before, so we didn't know what to expect.
When we got there, it seemed so chaotic. There were a LOT of schools there, and each school had a tent (or two or three) set up somewhere that the runners could put their stuff or relax until race time. We signed Noah in, and discovered his team hadn't gotten their team shirts yet, unfortunately. They pinned a tag to his shirt, and then we had over an hour until his race time (we were told to get there at 1:00, and his race was at 2:20).
Once all the kids were signed in, the coach walked them around to show them their course (a 1.3-mile makeshift trail on grass). My dad came to watch his race, too, so we went over to the starting line together when it was time to line up. There were hundreds of kids at the starting line (I just looked up the results, and there were 216 total in Noah's division). It was kind of crazy to me to think that they would all start at one time (the races aren't chip timed, and there isn't a staggered start).
The horn sounded, and it was instant chaos. I was taking a video of the start, and I lost track of Noah. As I was taking the video, I saw a few kids fall, and other kids plowing over them or falling themselves. It was scary, and I immediately felt panicked for Noah.
I finally spotted him. He looked like he was really pacing himself, and he fell to the back of the pack, which was fine and what I had expected. My biggest concern was just that he would get discouraged.
The race was so short that my dad and I immediately went over to the finish line to watch for the kids coming through. The first kid, a sixth grader, came through in 7:00 flat. That's a 5:23/mile pace!! In the top 10 or so kids came this one boy who was carrying one of his shoes--it had obviously come off while he was running, so he carried it and ran with one shoe the rest of the way, still finishing with a 6:00-ish mile pace.
When Noah and I ran together at the State Park on Thursday, I took note of his 1.3-mile split, because I knew that was going to be the distance of his race. He did it in 17:00 even, which is a pace of 13:05/mile. I told him it would be awesome if he could hit a 13:00/mi pace at his race, and to do that, he'd just have to push himself a little harder than when we practiced. I told him that by the end of the season, he could probably have a pace in the 10:00's if he kept training.
About 12 minutes in, my dad looked at the clock and said we still had about 5 minutes before Noah would come through. Shortly after he said that, I spotted Noah!
He looked like he had pushed himself hard, and he crossed the finish line with an official time of 12:32 (9:38/mile pace). (There was confusion about whether the course was 1.25 or 1.3 miles, but the official results list 1.3, so we'll go with that.) He placed 161 out of 216. I was completely dumbfounded when I saw him cross the finish line with that time--I didn't even think he'd hit that pace during the whole season, let alone the first invitational!
Noah was exhausted, and he bent over for a minute like he was going to throw up. I handed him a bottle of water, and he said he thought he was going to puke. He had really pushed himself hard, and it just blew my mind how much time he took off of his practice run! I asked him if he had fun, and he said yes--so that was the most important thing anyway. He's really proud of himself and he really likes cross country. I'm so glad!