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.
My teams are in trouble. Not deep trouble, but we need to iron out some issues. In cross country, the top five runners from each school constitute the score. Each runner gets a single point for their finish (one point for first, fifty-one points for fifty-first, etc). Low score wins. Perfect score is fifteen points: 1-2-3-4-5. From a time point of view, it's best to have as few seconds as possible between the first scorer and the fifth....
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.
My team is the smallest I’ve ever coached . . . [t]he kids that have chosen to run are special to me. I plan to push them very hard and get the most out of their potential. We’d all like to qualify for Nike Cross Nationals, but that’s twenty-two weeks away. Better to savor each daily workout and take things as they come.
I am bracing myself for the ebbs and flows of a [cross country] season that will inevitably be filled with laughter and tears. And through it all I must find a way to motivate and inspire. So for some strange reason having to do with the grieving process deciding it was time to deal with some old pain, I am dedicating this season to the memory of my late sister, Monique . . .
Way back when I started coaching in 2005, I thought it was something of a lark. I’d long wanted to coach distance running and the job fell into my lap. After years of writing training articles for running magazines and more than a decade traveling the globe writing about endurance sports, I thought myself uniquely suited to the rigors of coaching high school cross country and track....