. . . I had never given goats much thought, but I found myself wondering if maybe raising a few competitive goats would be a nice pastime. They looked cute enough, and it seemed like there wouldn't be much to it. But as with all new endeavors, you don't know what you don't know. What seemed simple on the surface would become an obsession. I like to win. I'm not embarrassed to say it. And all-consuming passion is very often what it takes to win.
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.
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.
If you follow my Twitter feed (@martinjdugard), you’ll have seen a recurring photo of my office white board counting down the days to the State Meet. It's always 154 days from the first day of practice to that last Saturday in November. Right now the number is at four, which means State is getting close.
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.
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.