I took the team to Mammoth last month. We've gone every year since 2006 for a week of high altitude training. It's medieval the way I push the kids, running twice a day for a week on mountain trails that are never flat, and in fact always seem to go uphill. For the seniors it's a getaway they look forward to all year, second only to our Hawaii trip in terms of getting away from parental supervision and hanging out with friends. But it's not so easy for the freshmen.
It is only July, and yet I am already feeling the nerves of November. My cross country team just finished its fourth week of training. These summer workouts are when the championships of autumn are won. I normally coast through summer, cursing the twelve weeks between the first day of training and our first September meet. But this season is different.
It is the last Sunday morning in July. I arrived in Paris well past midnight, exhausted from the long drive. The Rue de Rivoli was a madhouse, thick with tourists and revelers. I checked in and walked around for an hour to find a meal, but nothing was open. After settling for peanuts and a cold Leffe at a bistro on the Rue de la Madeleine, I hit the sack. There was no thought of a wake-up call.
Chiquita Ridge is not an oasis, per se. It's an old cattle trail overlooking two distinct valleys. From the nearest road, it's a quarter mile rise to the top. Those that have never made the hike up the trailhead from Antonio Parkway probably don't even know it's there. But there's a magic to Chiquita Ridge. Once you make that climb, it's as if something in the world becomes lighter.
I've been asked to write a few new essays for an April 2019 paperback edition of To Be A Runner. I'm flattered by the offer. TBAR sold well in its initial release, but didn't enjoy the robust sales of the how-to running books, so I was always hoping for a second chance.
The first time I ever got passed by a woman was December 21, 1975. I was running the Christmas Relays, a fifty-mile team event from Santa Cruz to Half Moon Bay. If you drive that highway, as I did just a couple months ago, it's one of the most scenic stretches of road in America. The pavement parallels and overlooks the Pacific Ocean in many spots. . . . All of that was lost on me back in 1975. I was running a ten-mile leg in a cold winter rain, feeling very sorry for myself and not at all enjoying the view — particularly those rolling stretches of highway that seemed to climb forever. I was fourteen. My dad was off in Vietnam.
There are thirty-seven days to the State Meet. Five weeks and change. Take away Sundays, which cross country's local governing body has declared "no practice" days, and we're down to thirty-three days to get better. Consider that we'll have at least two recovery days per week, and that lowers the number to twenty-three chances to improve.