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.
The temperature outside is a rough sixteen degrees, though it is more tolerable now that the wind has died. A thin carpet of new snow covers the earth and my car windows, meaning this is the day I get to use the once-a-year windshield scraper I carry at all times. It does not feel like your ordinary day of reckoning, but there is a clock ticking and a few issues that need to be addressed.
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.
I try to keep these missives non-topical in order to give them an evergreen quality. But last night's loss by the men's U.S. national soccer team to Trinidad-Tobago needs to be addressed. The immediate sense of confusion is that America will not have a team playing in the World Cup next year — not that anyone will miss them. They are three and out at best, a nice sideshow to the real competition.
I don't know what triggered the memory, but the other day I was suddenly overcome with a wash of humiliation. Sometime in my early twenties, at that point in the wilderness years where I was so deep in the woods that I couldn't remember which way I came in and couldn't possibly see a way out, I decided that the most logical way to fix things was to . . . wait for it: join the French Foreign Legion.
Cross country season officially began last Saturday. As a forest fire raged in the mountains above Pasadena, the first gun of the season sounded. I am always reminded of “Hollywood” from Top Gun’s comment about dogfighting when I hear that first gun. It signifies so much that feels right to the world for me.