Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Second Verse...

…same as the first, just a little bit slower and a whole lot worse.

As I got to the meeting place in the park, I noticed that only two members of the team were there. Thinking back to the previous change in schedule, I wondered whether I had shown up too early. Finally, feeling like an outsider, I approached the two runners and asked why the other guys weren’t there. They informed me that due to a computer glitch, their teammates were at school trying to get their schedules fixed. When it became clear that the other guys weren’t going to make it, coach called, what today passed for his team, over. I sheepishly followed behind. As I got there, he told me “you won’t be able to keep up with these two” and sent the other guys out for a long fast run, on the same course I ran the first time I ran with the team. His words hurt, but then again, the truth often does. I decided that, even if I couldn’t run with the team, I would do the same run by myself.

It started out okay, as I managed to keep the other runners in sight. As I started to think that keeping them where I could see them might be a good goal, I realized I needed a bathroom break. Needless to say, I couldn’t ask them for a time out. I knew when I got out, that I was on my own. It didn’t help that a friend pulled his car over to give me a bottle of water…twice. Then, I got to the hill that only weeks before, I had raced up, to prove myself to the team. Now, running by myself, it felt much harder. I even stopped at the top to catch my breath. Without the need to prove myself, I lost my edge. Still, determined not to give up, I finished the run.

As I got back to the park, I saw a few of the guys starting out on a run. Having fixed their schedules, they too decided to run on their own. A few blocks later, I saw one other member of the team, this one leaving school with some friends. With no teammates or coach to push him, and no one any the wiser, he decided to take the day off. Without the team I lost my edge. I am glad to say I didn’t lose my willingness to run.

This is part of a new series about my effort to train with a local high school cross-country team. Earlier posts can be found at

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