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.
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.