Last day of the teams' Mammoth Camp. It's been a crucible, as I mentioned in this week's newsletter, full of heat and courage. Today's long run was fourteen miles for the boys and twelve for the girls — with more than 2,000 feet of climbing. Just to show how quickly the body can acclimate, the same girls who could barely breathe at altitude on Sunday were singing as they finished the last mile of today's run.
It's my prediction that the athletes will remember this week as the best of the season. They always do. Right now, after so much hard work and team bonding, they think anything is possible. They believe in themselves as individuals and as a team. But the fact is we are six weeks into a twenty-two week season. That's just a little more than a fourth of the way. Lots can happen once school starts and life intrudes on this training idyll.
Traditionally, from this day forth I am on edge about the state of the team. The training that preceded it was a slow build. The training and racing to come will be fraught with the ebbs and flows of leading a squad of athletes who figure to be in the mix every time they race. I don't care what sport, most coaches I know are miserable during the season.
I want this season to be different. There's a saying in Paul's letter to the Philippians that we should "not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
I know some of you are uncomfortable by the Jesus reference. Others will counter that their treatment for anxiety is deep breathing, meditation, a little weed, or a hot bath. And that's alright. Everyone has their own process. I'm just of the mindset that if I let things go and remind myself that God is in control life seems a little less crushing.
Leading a team adds so much to my day and has made me a better writer. But I kill some of that joy by letting myself get swallowed up in worry about injury and illness, rather than reveling in the fact that a pack of high school girls and boys have become so fit and confident that they can crack jokes and sing while running sub-7 pace for a dozen miles at 8,000 feet.
So from this moment on I am choosing not to be anxious about my teams. I am choosing not to grumble, which is my go-to when times get out of my control. And I will sing — just a little and to myself — as this glorious season to come unfolds.