Tuesday, April 23, 2013

944. T Is for Track

My older son, Tall, came home from school one day recently and announced that he was “trying out” for track.  First of all, he is in third grade and there are not that many kids who want to run track, so pretty much whoever shows up gets to be on the team.  Second, he is an extremely fast runner, so I knew that even if there were “try outs,” he would be accepted.  Third, I was thrilled that Tall would be involved in a sport that was focused on speed, as opposed to a sport like baseball that is apparently focused on watching disabled snails compete with turtles in wheelchairs.  I am not saying that baseball is a slow sport, but … okay, yes I am.      

Boy, was I wrong about everything.  Not the part about Tall being fast enough for track, he is very fast.  I was wrong about no one else wanting to run track, because when I showed up to the first meet, there were 300 students there. 
Three hundred kids.  Not all of them can race each other at the same time, obviously, so they are broken into little groups of six.  And most of the kids want to run in two or three different “events,” not just one.  Do the math.  Three hundred divided by six, times two or three.  That equals eleventy billion combinations of runners competing against each other in races of varying lengths with zero regard to parents' schedules or desires to relax on the weekend. 

I was not prepared for this. 
I am a soccer and basketball mom.  Those games have clocks and whistles and timers and 15 minute quarters.  Everyone knows what they are getting into when they go to a game or a practice.  Go to a soccer game at 10 am and you can still make it to brunch at 11:15.  Watch a basketball game at 1 pm, and you are guaranteed to be done in time for that 2 pm birthday party.    

Not so with track.  Our entire family showed up at the meet at 12 noon, and we were walking out of there at … brace yourself here … 5 pm.  That’s right, 5 pm.  How is that even possible?  Five full hours of running?  For my son to only run a total of three races (sprints!) of less than two minutes each?
And I noticed a strange phenomenon after the first few hours:  some parents left early.  Their child was done competing, and so they just ... left.  At first, I was indignant.  How dare they leave when others are not done yet?  And then I decided that they were actually really really smart, and that we, too, would leave as soon as Tall was done.  Turns out, Tall was in the second to last race, so we would not be leaving early.  I went back to feeling indignant.   
As we walked to the car after five brutal hours watching children run while their younger siblings waited valiantly, my younger son, Short, turned to me and observed wryly,  

“Mommy, I don’t think track is a very fast sport after all.”


  1. How ironic, isn't it? I applaud you for your patience. You deserve a medal, too.

    From A to Z Challenge,
    Sonnia J. Kemmer

  2. I miss having young children around, attending all the activities, not so much. My son did swimming. It's like track only you have to drive hundreds of miles to the meets and the venue is steamy and smells of cholorine.

  3. I will share with my son that he is either a snail or a turtle. However, after seeing him run to first base last week, it might be an appropriate description. Fortunately, he is too slow for track and wants to own the Dodgers so I think we are spared the meets. We only have practice three days a week and two games a week. No matter how you look at it, kids in sports tend to consume your whole life.

  4. Track is even more boring to watch than baseball. I should clarify that I enjoy watching baseball. It's certainly no golf or bowling...or track.

    1. ugh-- golf! I did not even think of golf!!!

  5. So funny and so true. My sons have played baseball for years, and even though the games can be long, at least I know I can see my kid either batting or playing in the field before Halley's Comet comes around again. Not so much with the track meets.

    Jenny at Choice City Native

  6. Warning, I think it only gets cancelled for thunder and lightning, so get yourselves a big umbrella!

  7. I think this is one of those times when I am thankful that my kids don't do any sporting activity. Their idea of a sport is Lego Star Wars on the Wii. Don't get me wrong, we get outside and walk, hike, etc., but no team sports. Yet.

  8. This made me laugh so hard. I ran track all the way through college, and have coached 4-8 graders. I knew as soon as you said baseball was slow, you had no idea what you were getting yourself into. I really hope you never have to spend those five hours in the cold rain. THAT'S when five hours is torture for parents. When my kids decided to run track, I chose to coach it. That way, I would have a dog in every single race, and the time went much, much faster. Good luck with the rest of the season!

  9. I know what you mean. My middle daughter ran track. Swim team works the same way--hours of waiting for a quick sprint.

  10. Sorry, I don't have a child to relate to...mine all grown up, but enjoyed the story!!

  11. I like what your younger son said!


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