Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Cross Country

Last night I went to Millersport's (only) home cross country meet. It sure brought back a lot of memories, especially of junior high cross country. There were all sorts of things I liked about running cross country. I liked how unstructured practice usually was: just go out and run (and keep on running)! In 8th grade, we ran a lot at Summers Park and in the cemetery near our school (OK, so I had one difficulty with Summers Park, and that was that root that I sprained my ankle on).

I remember as a middle schooler, how important I felt when the high school coach came up and talked to me following a meet, wondering if I would be running in high school, because the team could use a runner like me. I had a "popular" kid write in my 7th grade yearbook "to Flash, the long distance man"... (and something about kicking the crap out of the other runners [sic] buts [sic]).
I loved the camaraderie with the other runners - even from the opposing team. My dad gave me a strategy: to draft off the other team's top runner and then sprint him at the end, and it always worked through middle school. It also helped me build friendships with most of them, because we would talk all through the race.
Once I got to 8th grade, several of them were my teammates (Tim and Richard, most notably), and we pushed each other hard. I remember one race I really thought Richard would beat me, and I told him he had to let me win because it was my birthday (it was). As it turned out, I don't think anyone let anyone win, because I ended up setting the course record that day.
High school was a little harder; it's tough coming in as a freshman. Of course, I was running cross country every day and then going for soccer practice (often riding my bike across town to get to soccer). I probably ate my parents out of house and home!
I ended up running #1 JV as a freshman, and I won a lot of meets. In the last (regular season) meet of the year, we ran JV and varsity together (JV probably had to wear our jerseys inside-out, so it looked like we were from OMOKOK), and I was our 7th runner, earning me a varsity point (toward the 15 or so that you had to get to earn a varsity letter).

Then, after the Sectional, some disciplinary problems on the team (none relating to me) required a new 7th varsity runner, so we had a run-off to determine who would run in the Regional. I won the run-off (with my best-ever time and my only sub-17 time: 16:57), so I went to the Regional, which our team won (earning me my varsity letter).

I loved running cross country; I liked the courses (especially those that went through woods and up a lot of hills). I liked getting out and running and running and running with my friends. I liked the runners' high. In fact, having made the varsity team, I had decided that as a sophomore, if there were conflicts between soccer and cross-country, I would run. But when I went to church camp and thus wasn't eligible for the first meet (and played soccer instead), so the coach was mad at me and instead of talking to me, he bawled out my sister, that was it.

I think that cross country coach would be surprised to know that I'm still running these days (and loving it).

3 comments:

Big Mama said...

And I'll bet that coach, if he is still living, is STILL a jerk!!!

The Sister said...

Yeah, but my brother was "not a good kid" among other things.
P.S. Hey David C., you're looking HHHHHHOT there.... Heh heh heh.

billb82298 said...

That middle school picture sure brings back memories....Mark D, you, Brad D, Marc M, and even David C...."Hey David...nice glasses!!"