He's always had fast legs. In elementary school, everyone in the neighborhood knew him as the kid who sprinted home from school everyday. And I mean sprinted. At full speed. All the way home.
In third grade, he set the record for the mile run. It still stands today.
The fast legs may have come naturally, but hard work and determination did not. Caleb never runs in the off season. When I'd pick him up from practice, it was always obvious that he hadn't done the same workout as many of the other runners that seemed to be pushing themselves. In races, he didn't seem motivated to pass others. I tried not to worry too much about the fact that Caleb seemed to perform under his full potential and instead I tried to just celebrate the fact that he was even participating at all.
Then, in the second race of this season, Caleb broke into the top ten of the boys team. That means that he got to take this t-shirt from the teammate that he had unseated:
That little white t-shirt seemed to spark a bit of a fire inside of Caleb. He was suddenly working harder and demonstrated more determination than I'd ever seen. He really didn't want to lose that shirt and he had several teammates that were anxious to take it from him.
Since he was still running JV, he was almost always in the front of the pack at every race. It was just so much fun to watch him leading the way this year.
I know I'm sappy, but this next picture actually puts a little lump in my throat. I love that the varsity team is cheering for Caleb as he is out in front of the pack at a large invitational called, "Hole in the Wall."
And you know why I love this picture? Because it shows Caleb's athletic supporters (Grandma, Grandpa and Alyssa) cheering him on. My parents should seriously earn a ribbon for being the most supportive grandparents ever!
In the end, Caleb finished 11th out of 233 runners. That earned him his first ever XC ribbon.
Imagine this dialogue as you view the next series of photos:
Me: "Caleb, don't do a dorky smile."
Caleb: "Mom! What do you mean a dorky smile?"
Caleb: "I'm not smiling dorky."
Me: "Ah well. That's maybe a little better. Oh, and nice hand placement."
Caleb held onto that top ten shirt until the second to the last race. He was passed at the end of the race but since he'd had it for most of the season, the coaches couldn't bear to take it from him, so both he and the other boy got shirts. Also, it should be noted that throughout the season, it always seemed that some runner or another that was likely to take the shirt from Caleb was sick or injured. As awesome as it was to earn that shirt, it always seemed to come with a bit of an asterisk.
Then came sub-districts and Caleb's favorite course, one he's run many times and knows well. He gave it all he had and finished with an all-time PR of 18:29. Not a single runner on his team was sick or injured that day. Everyone ran, everyone did well and Caleb legitimately finished in the top ten. That shirt, now free of any asterisks, was all his!
He was awarded his second ribbon of the season for finishing 11th of 286 JV runners. The satisfaction he felt from the accomplishment was made obvious with his fist pumping and mile-wide smile.
Last week, we attended the end-of-year banquet for his team. We were proud to learn that Caleb's efforts this year earned him the school's varsity letter. He was also awarded Scholar Athlete and Distinguished Scholastic awards.
Way to go, Caleb! We are so proud of you.
Now, let's see some running in the off season!