Thursday, March 31, 2011

Chapter 16: Milers

Beads of Sweat is a book about a cross country team's adventures.  This chapter chronicles a workout of repeat miles.  To access prior chapters, click on the Fiction tab at the top of the page.

Hartman jogged over to the team from the far side of the track.  He sidled up next to Spidestrom, “I just chalked out the mile markers on the XC course.  Are you guys ready for milers today?”

            The upperclassmen knew that this was one of Hartman’s touchstone workouts and if the sophs and frosh didn’t know it, the coach’s ebullience made it lucid.  This workout allowed him to compare performances across and within a year, for he’d been assigning repeat miles year after year at least two times per season.  Three times this year and today marked a statistician’s dream: an opportunity to record some baseline data.

            -We’re doing the repeats in three groups today.  Listen closely.  Group one: Jenkins, Spidestrom, Hamz, Torres, and Smitty.  Group two: Coetaine, Kimihara, Galiozzi, and Paws.  Group three: Wallan, Lee, Sellberg, and Buck.  Got it?  Now Wallan, you’re in charge of making sure none of the PFB’s get lost.

            -Sure thing, Coach.

            Irked by his placement, Coetaine walked away in a long circumambulation before exhaling audibly and mumbling something to Paws under his breath.

            -Listen up.  We’re doing the milers on time.  Group one will start a mile every ten minutes.  Group two every eleven minutes and group three every twelve minutes.  The faster you do them, the more recovery you have.  Everybody’s doing three.  No more, no less.  Jog the first mile of the course out and back so everybody can see how I chalked the miles.  Meet me at the starting line.  Coach Pereira will meet us there too. 

            -Is he our new coach?

            -He’s helping out when he can.  On big day’s like this.  For workouts.  Now no more questions.  Git goin.

            And with that they headed over to the softball field.  Springfield High, thanks to Hartman’s assiduity, was a cross runner’s dream.  With his own two hands and those of other countless runners and boosters, he carved out three of the sweetest, most rolling miles a high school harrier ever got to traverse.  After much pleading, petitioning, and convincing, Hartman saw to it that the course could travel over a piece of state protected land that bordered the far perimeter of the outer campus.  He had his eye on the parcel for a long time and his vision had come to fruition ten years prior.  Now he spent his time tending to the trails, cutting back encroaching boughs, and removing troublesome rocks.  He lined a good 100 meters of the course’s second mile with those stones.  His runners knew not to touch them. It was unspoken but they understood this quiet thing was somehow sacrosanct.  They also knew never to rebuke or reprehend his baby in any way and absolutely never ever in his presence.  The oblong oval measured out to be five kilometers on the nose.  Part of its genius was its shortcuts.  An ambitious spectator could see runners at the first and second mile and the finish line if he was fast enough.  Hartman and Pereira would have to be such spectators today if they intended to bookkeep the splits of their team. 

            Seventeen minutes passed and the team started gathering at the backstop behind homeplate to stretch. 

            -It’s hot.
            -I feel dehydrated already.
            -I know.  Me too.
            He ignored their nervous commentary, “Okay guys.  Finish stretching.  Group three is going first.  You have five minutes.”

            Huddled about Spider, the team only half listened to their coach.  Spider didn’t come back with the team.  Hartman simply attributed his lag time to a pit stop in the bushes.  But the huddled throng enticed him to move a few steps in its direction.

            -Those are sweet.
            -Where’d you get ‘em?
            -I got them at running camp.  They’re the latest ones from Nike.  Not even in stores yet.  They even have drainage holes in the back of the heels in case it rains.
            -That’s unbelievable!
            -Or in case you run the steeplechase.  Those are track spikes, Hartman said as he grabbed up one of Spider’s feet in a way that made him stumble with his balance.  What the hell are you thinking Spider?  Get those spikes off.  Save them for a race.  This is a training day.  No spikes! 

            -But Coach I need to break them in.
            -You can break them in in a duel meet.
            -Aww, come on.  I’ve been dying to run in them!
            Spidestrom, chagrinned, ran back to the locker room. 
            -Hurry back now Spider, Hartman said, you only got three minutes.
            -Maybe he can break them in now, Deo said.

            This workout was as much one for the coaches as for the athletes.  Hartman and Pereira would have to run hard over the deer paths that acted as cut-throughs.  Staggering the groups helped.  Putting Pereira in charge of Wallan’s group helped too. 

            Hartman sent the slow group off and Pereira booked it to the marker.  A minute later he discharged the middle group, which left him alone with his top five for a few moments. 

            -Jenkins, I don’t want you pr’ing today. 
            -I know, I know.
            -And watch that headbob.
            Smitty mimicked Jenkins’ telltale bobble.  Jenkins shoved him.
            -Don’t be heroes on this first one, men.  I want you to finish the workout, understand?
            Head nods.
            -Jog lightly on the recovery.  Keep moving.  I don’t want to see you doubled over with your hands on your knees…Okay, it’s time.  Three, two, one, go!

            Hartman clicked his watch and the five took off in a northerly direction while he headed out north by northeast.  He reached the first marker in time to see Kimihara, Coetaine, and a step behind Paws coming up on Lee.  Sellberg crossed fifteen or twenty seconds ago and was shouting encouragement.  Kimihara and Paws looked sweaty but alright.  The same could not be said for Coetaine. 

            -You alright, Pereira asked him.
            -My right knee hurts.
            -Where’s the pain?

            Hartman watched Coetaine point to his knee and knew it was an IT-band flare up.

Twenty seconds later Jenkins crossed the chalk.  Only six seconds later came Spidestrom.  Then another eight passed and Smitty and Torres crossed together.  Hammond was two seconds behind them.

            -Okay, now.  You guys are all a little fast.  Especially you, Adam.  Good thing you took those spikes off or you’d be setting my trail on fire.
            -Damn right!
            -Make sure you finish the workout, Jenkins told him.
            -I will. 

Off went the groups again.  Coetaine looked ugly from the start and Paws was breathing heavy on his neck.  Jenkins set out on the second one as if his goal was to decimate Spider and his group.  Torres and Hammond looked like the only ones listening to their coach. 

He sprinted the last hundred yards, but Hartman made it to the second marker.  Wallan was already jogging.  Sellberg was with him, and Hartman liked seeing that.  Maybe he’d have two prizes in the freshmen class.  Buck and Lee were nowhere in sight, but he wasn’t concerned.  Torres had struggled like them when he was a bluebird. 

-Finish strong, he yelled to Paws and Deo as they finished in tandem.  Another twenty seconds later came Galiozzi.  Where was Coetaine?

Sure enough after Jenkins’ group has finished in came Coetaine hobbling up to the coach.

-Coach, my knee is killing me.
-I know.  I can tell.  Do you think you can walk back to the trainer’s room?
-Tell the trainer I think it’s your IT-band.  Ask her what she thinks.  Put some ice on it.  When you get home too.  At least three times a day.  When it settles down a bit, I’ll show you some stretches. 
-Yeah, maybe it is my IT-band.
-Do you know why IT-bands tighten up?
-Overuse.  Usually happens when you go from low mileage to high mileage in a short period of time.  Say a week.

Coetaine didn’t say anything.  He fumed at being called out in front of the team.  The junior walked toward the trainer’s room, emphasizing the halt in his gait.

-Alright guys.  One left.  Let’s hit it.  Run fast.  Run controlled.  Per aspera ad astra. 
-What’d he say?
-The guy’s crazy.  He’s lost his marbles.

They took off for the last time.  One two three.  Sixty sixty sixty.  The second mile was the hardest, so Hartman’s interest in the third mile split peaked. 

When he arrived at the chalked three, he was happy to see that Galiozzi sucked it up to finish with Paws and Deo.  Both of them ran strongly and to see the erratic junior buckle down for a mile made the coach happy. 

Jenkins’ punishment of Spidestrom started in the second repeat and continued through the end of the third.  He put a hurting on the kid.  The senior gapped the sophomore by eighteen seconds on the second one and thirty on the third one.  Jenkins didn’t say a word to Spider or Hartman and he didn’t have to. 

Once the string of runners caught their collective breath, they grouped into one large mass for a cool down.  After that, it was off to Cinder’s for milkshakes.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Chapter 15: Ryan Jenkins

This chapter from Beads of Sweat is a biography of Ryan Jenkins.  In time, all of the athletes will be featured in his own chapter.  To access previous chapters of the novel, click on the Fiction tab up top.

2009-2010 Goal Sheet for Runners

Name: Ryan Jenkins
Phone #: 508-555-3591
Address: 18 Whippet St.
Parents’ Names: Bill and Sue Jenkins
Current PR’s:
2 mile-9:29.3
Goals for This Year:
I want to be a state champion.  Ever since my freshmen year, I made this my goal.  I’ve improved steadily every year (minus the injury during indoor of my jr. year) and feel ready to bring it to the next level.  I don’t care about anything under a mile.  I think I can get close to 4:10 or 12 in the mile.  I really hit it last year with a 6 second PR at the class meet.  Still upset I didn’t make it to States.  That won’t happen this year.  For the deuce, I’d like to get sub 9:15.  Most importantly is my cross PR. On a fast course in good conditions, I can go 15:10.  I know it.  I’ve been working my ass off this summer.  The base is there.  I’m ready to handle an increased workload so bring it on, Coach!
Describe Your Summer Training:
I took the plan we made together at the end of outdoor and did it pretty much to the T.  In July I did 40, 45, 50, 55.  Then in August I did 48, 54, 58, 62.  I took it easy the week before Camp.  I’m stretching more and did strides on my own for the first time ever.  I also worked on my pushups and situps.  That was obvious from the conditioning test you gave us.  This year I want to be a leader.  Not a rah-rah guy like Smitty, though.  I want to lead by example.  I want the underclassmen to see me and be like “oh damn” this kid can bring it.  I want to be the team leader that Mebkay and Liston were for me my freshman year.  I looked at them and said, “Wow.  I hope I can be that good someday.”  Well, guess what? I’ve been working at it and with any luck, I can take down some of their times.  Maybe even get my name on the board.
Lifetime Goals (running and non-running):
Running-wise, my goal for the year is to win a state championship and get a full-scholarship to a division 1 school.  I want to be recruited by and run for one of the best schools in the country.  Colorado, Arkansas, Stanford, Oregon, Michigan, Providence.  Those are some of the big names I’m looking at.  If that doesn’t work, my backup plan would be to go to a school like Stonehill or Adams State or even UMASS-Lowell.  I know I need to better my current times and place at major meets to get recognized by a D1 coach.  Beyond next year and college, I hope to continue to run.  I would love to qualify for the Olympic Trials and maybe even win a gold medal someday. I figure the sky’s the limit for me.
Nonrunning-wise, my first goal would be to graduate, go to college, and graduate from college.  If I’m not running professionally, I don’t know what I’ll be doing.  I think I would at least like to become a coach.  If that doesn’t happen, maybe something in the sciences.  I got an A in chem. last year.
Academic Interests:
science, gym, lunch
running and talking about running at Cinders
Do you have a job?  If yes, how many hours a week?:
I had a summer job at Oak Grove Golf Course.  I caddied and did odd jobs in the clubhouse.  I’m not working during cross season.  Like you said, school and running are my two jobs now.
Favorite Athlete:
Proudest Moment:
The 4:22 at class last year (even though it didn’t get me to States).  Also, making the varsity team as seventh man my freshman year. 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

This Week in Running: 3.21 to 3.27.11

Injury update: I incurred a setback this week, and I didn't even think I was really over doing it.  I was doing an easy fifty minutes on the treadmill and my foot kept feeling worse and worse.  When I got off it was throbbing.  Bad news here: a throbbing soreness for the whole next day ensued.  I think I have to completely shut it down for a solid week.  Do you know how incredibly hard this is to do?  It's nearly impossible and I'm not even one of those "streakers" who consider it sacrilege to take a day off.  I even like a day off, but a week off, that's, well, sacrilege.  I have an angel on one shoulder and a imp on the other, but I'm not even sure which one is which.  One guy is saying, "Be smart.  Take a week.  Let it heal."  The other is saying, "Don't be such a pansy.  Run through it.  It'll go away."  I hate primadonnas and don't want to be one myself.   One of my biggest fears is that I'm going to start losing fitness (I already know I lost some) and start gaining weight.  I eat too much as it is and I'm still just as hungry when I'm not running.  Move over Michelin Man.  You know, I have this t-shirt that I used to wear to races all the time.  On the back of it, it says, "The hardest part of running is not running."  Thems are some true words.  Tru dat, as Glenn would say.

Monday - 90 min bike / core2
Tuesday - 30 min bike + 5 1/2 mile jog / core
Wednesday - 80 min bike / chiro visit
Mika thinks that the FHL tendon might have had a tear in it.  Thus, the slow recovery.
Thursday - 10 min bike + 6 mile jog / core
Friday - lifting
Saturday - 20 min row / light lifting + core
Sunday - core and lifting

For the Week
11 1/2 running miles
210 mins biking
20 min rowing
2 lifting sequences

Friday, March 25, 2011

Chapter 14: First Practice after Camp Week

Beads of Sweat is a novel about a cross country's adventures. To access prior chapters, click on the Fiction tab at the top of the page.

He opened the locker room doors at 2:30.  By 3:00, all his runners would be on the track waiting for him to tell them what to do.  In the interim, they knew what to do: run four laps and start stretching.

            Camp Week was the easy part.  Just the team.  No distractions.  Now this is where Hartman earned his keep.  They were reentering a world of grades, part-time jobs, girls, and parents.  A world much more complicated than the one provided on the island of Starkfield State.

            The first complication arrived in the form of the team’s assistant coach.  Fitts called Hartman over the long weekend and told him that he’d be unable to continue with the team this year.  Some stuff came up.  He felt bad.  He was very sorry for the short notice.  Hated leaving the team in the lurch but there was really nothing he could do.  Hartman took it all in and when he was done, he set the receiver down and stared at it for a good two minutes.  He thought about Fitts’ waning dedication over the last year but didn’t think an eleventh hour resignation was in his character.  The guy was young; he just got engaged, who knows what could’ve happened.  He took a deep breath and extended his arm back toward the phone.

            The team bandied about the track crackling about last trips to the beach, the weekend drama at Cinders, and the funniest moments of Camp Week.  Sellberg streaking the quad at two am donning nothing more than an amalgam of shaving and whipped cream seemed to take first prize.  Hartman pretended not to hear.  He smiled to himself.

            -Get going with the stretching.  Hammond lead them through it. 

            He gave them six more minutes to jostle and nudge and maybe stretch.  As they did that, he worked out his remarks in his head.

            -Okay men.  We’re going to multitask here.  I hope you can stretch and listen at the same time. 
            -Yeah Jenks?
            -Where’s Fitts?
            -That’s the first order of business.  Fitts called me over the weekend.  He won’t be with us this year.  He’s resigned.  He wanted me to tell you that he wishes you all well for this upcoming season, but some personal things have gotten in his way. 
            -He just quit on us.
            -He resigned. That’s it.  It has nothing to do with you guys.  He cares about you all very much.  Said he might even come to a few meets on the weekends.
            -I can’t believe this.
            -This is bullshit.
            He gave them room to stir and grieve.  They needed to air out, and he waited sixty seconds for them to move back into the present. 
            -Do we have another coach?
            -I’m working on that.  For now you’re stuck with me and me alone.
            -Oh shit.
            -Oh no.
            -Oh jeez.
            -Oh man.
            -Don’t worry.  It’ll be alright.  I’m not gonna cook ya and eat ya, you know…Well, Sellberg I might.

            The mood lightened.

            -Okay, second order of business: we have two major days ahead of us here.  We have milers tomorrow and on Saturday we’ll be doing the annual co-ed practice with the girls’ team.  For those of you who don’t know, we call this practice the Yellowjacket Relays.  Ask a senior to find out why.  Hopefully, Jenks, your team won’t come in last again this year.

            This last statement evoked a cauldron of memories all of which made Jenkins the punch line.  Fiercely competitive, the senior hated losing anything, and the team relished the opportunity to poke fun at him.  Not often did they have the chance.

            -Come on now.  Keep stretching.  You can do two things at once, can’t you now Wallan?
            -Wallan, I’m kicking your ass on Saturday.  Lindsey’s too for that matter.
            -Hey now don’t make Coach call a veterinarian.
            -Okay, okay.  More news for you.  We’re doing something different this year.  We are not having practice on Thursdays.  We’re having practice on Sunday mornings instead.
            -No way?
            -He can’t be serious.
            -This will make a little more sense to you once you get our schedule.  We have duel meets on Wednesdays.  You’ll have your day off after that meet.
            -Are the Sundays optional, Wallan asked.
            -I don’t get why we’re doing this.
            -We need a long day.  Sunday’s make sense, Jenkins said.
            -He’s right.  Too many of you ran out of gas in the last half-mile last year.
            -So we don’t have practice Thursday?
            -I’m giving you a week to get used to this idea.  So this week is a normal week.  If you usually do something on Sunday mornings, adjust your schedules for a nine am practice.

            The boys looked around their semicircle with incredulous faces, faces that said he’s always up to something. The seniors smiled and shook their heads.  Wallan’s countenance was solemn and vacuous.

            Smitty finally burst out, “All this is nice, but what are we doing today?”

            -Glad you asked.  Forty minute run.  Easy to steady pace.  After twenty minutes I want you to do a five-minute tempo just to get your legs moving a bit. Get them ready for tomorrow.  The last fifteen minutes should be a few hairs faster than the first twenty.  Don’t come back until you’ve run at least five miles.  Freshmen: you’re doing thirty-five minutes.  Fifteen-five-fifteen. 

            -Where are we doing it?
            -Jog over to the park.  I want you on soft surfaces.  Be careful crossing the street.
            -Are we going in one big group?
            -No.  The trails are too narrow.  Three groups: frosh, jv, varsity.  You know who you are.
            Not exactly everyone knew who they were, but Smitty, Hamz, and Jenks would let them know within the first hundred yards. 
            -One more thing.  Goal sheets.  I’ll be collecting them at the end of practice.  And upperclassmen: I’ll see you tomorrow morning in the Dank Tank.
            -That was two more things.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Chapter 13: Back Home

Beads of Sweat is a book about a high school team's journey toward a high school championship.  This is the first chapter after the team's week at training camp.

Downstairs in his cement grey basement Hartman quartered off a ten by ten square that he used as an office.  Against the foundation stood three four-foot high filing cabinets.  On the adjacent side stood floor to ceiling bookcases that he had built himself.  Both the cabinets and the cases housed voluminous stacks of papers, books, and binders all related to running. Some housed books on theory and running history (they were the resources for his camp week lectures) while others contained records specific to athletes he had coached.  There were mounds and mounds of folders and stray sheets that littered his desk.  He couldn’t leave his chair until they were all neatly ordered.

It’s true he had some catching up to do.  He was fried by the end of outdoor last year as Mebkay and Liston kept their end of a bargain that earned them a Hartman chaperoned trip to a national meet.  When all was said and done, he looked at the calendar and it was the fourth of July. 

He spent the next hour archiving their performances from preliminary and final times to splits to weather conditions to the surface of the track.  Once done he tackled the present.  He would never tell them but collectively this was the fastest camp week a team of his had ever run.  He had to recheck then double check the numbers to validate his data.  In the name of St. Sebastian, Torres was ten seconds off his 5k pr on Friday.  Hammond and Galiozzi were knocking on the door too.  Wouldn’t that be a pleasant surprise: Galiozzi challenging his mates for varsity bib.  Hartman loved intrasquad competition and this was going to be a good year for it.  He only hoped it didn’t leave Hammond for dead.

After crunching the numbers of camp week one last time and filing them in a fresh new manila folder with the words Camp Week 2009 written in a black sharpie marker, he set out to finalizing the schedule.  Every year it was a battle with the athletic director and after all these years, Hartman thought he might be getting the upper hand.  A hater of duel meets, the coach petitioned hard to have as few as possible.  He caught hell three years ago for not running a full squad against a sub-par opponent. Ran with four jv’s and still took the first three spots and tenth too.  AD told him he shoved it in the face of Flynn.  He retorted that it would’ve been that much worse if he ran his full squad.  In the years following, they came to an unspoken agreement.  The AD would schedule as few duels as possible and Hartman would field a competitive team for all.  Hartman worked around the agreement with lesser foes, and the AD was oblivious to such cross country minutia. He was a football man.

Swiveling ninety degrees to his old Smith Corona, he tucked a piece of paper around the spindle and began typing.  Thirty minutes and several traces of whiteout later he produced the season’s schedule.

WED 9/16/09
WED 9/23/09
@ New Martindale
WED 9/30/09
SAT 9/26/09
Skyhawk Jamboree
SAT 10/3/09
Lewis Park Meet
WED 10/7/09
SAT 10/10/09
Starkfield State Invitational
WED 10/14/09
@ Paddington
SAT 10/17/09
Great Bear Invitational
WED 10/21/09
Tonka, Sunderland
SAT 10/31/09
League Championship Meet
SAT 11/7/09
State Class Championship
SAT 11/14/09
State Championship

            Unfurling it from the spool, he grabbed diagonal edges and his lips cornered into a smile.  This schedule wasn’t perfect but it was the result of years of petitioning and massaging and fine-tuning.  Only three away duel meets. Every duel on a Wednesday.  This allowed for minimal training interruptions.  He couldn’t care less about the weekday meets.  Hell, he ran right through them most of the time.  He told the team they made their hay on Saturdays. The younger kids and some of the parents questioned his philosophy, but by junior year most of his doubters either no longer ran or became full-fledged subscribers.  Not much middle ground existed in Springfield.  He knew Mr. Hammond still held doubts and tried to work that out in a way that didn’t complicate Paul.  Paul was a believer and Hartman wondered if his father was telling him to do things that didn’t align with the team’s plan.

            The things that dominated Hartman’s running mind were the following: 1) putting the kids in a position to win a state championship, 2) keeping them healthy, 3) ensuring Jenkins had a shot of an individual championship, 4) making sure Coetaine didn’t quit, 5) seeing to it that Smith went to college, 6) avoiding a full scale blowout with Hammond Sr.

            He wondered what he’d be getting back on Tuesday.  The last thing he did on Friday was give the team a survey to complete.  Told them to take an hour, find a quiet spot, and fill it out thoughtfully, no off the cuff garbage.  He wanted them to take it as seriously as he did.  He learned a lot from his guys this way, and it often influenced the workouts he assigned.  Even got him into some individualization last year. 

            He also wondered if they’d do what he prescribed.  By just looking at their faces on Tuesday afternoon, he would know who did and didn’t do the work.  Labor Day Weekend served as the first trial of solitary dedication.  Having been instructed to run twice and take one day off—their choice which days they did what—proved to be a little more arduous for some than others.  But Hartman didn’t allow himself to dwell on cynical thoughts; he ensconced himself in ruminations and reveries of championships and personal bests, for this was a time for dreaming. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

This Week in Running: 3.14 to 3.20.11

Monday - 60 min bike + 4 mile jog / core
Tuesday - 80 min bike / core
Wednesday - chiro visit
Thursday - 3.75 mile jog / core
Friday - lift w/ calf emphasis / 35 min bike
Saturday - 55 min bike
Sunday - 40 min bike + 4.75 mile jog
For the Week
12 1/2 miles
235 mins on the bike
3 core workouts
1 lift
Analysis: The left arch is feeling better, but it still needs more time.  Anytime I start to push it, it pushes back.  Will try to run every other day next week and try to build up the length of the runs as opposed to the speed of them.  Upset that I'm not racing NB today.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Chapter 12: Last Run of Camp

Beads of Sweat is a book about running.  It's fiction.  To check out previous chapters, click on the Fiction tab up top.  

          Instead of on the Green, he told them to meet at the XC starting line at 0800.  They complied and despite the lethargy in their legs managed a playful banter all around.  This was the last run of camp week and they all had survived. 

            Hartman mysteriously appeared from the woodline ten minutes after eight.  He had a good sweat on his body and kept his jog on.

            -Are you guys stretched out yet?
            -Well sorta.
            -It’s ten passed.  What have you been doing?  Let’s go.  Follow me.

            He circled round them and made his way toward the dirt road some two hundred meters in the distance.  The team quickly caught up but no one passed him.  He spoke on the move.

            -We’re running the course today.  Twice.  You’ll do it once with me and once on your own.
            -You’re only doing it once,  Galiozzi asked.
            -Three times, he said.  I’ve already done it twice this morning. 
            Torres elbowed Gales on one side and Deo did the same on the other. 
            -So we’re running a 10k today.  That’s double the distance of any race you’ll run this year.  That’s a good thing.

He ran a few meters in silence.  As did the team.

-Now the first 5k is a controlled progression.  That’s why I’m running with you.  I’ve been studying the course and the pace this morning so I’m in tune with it.  We’re going 7:30, 7:15, 7:00.  Then I’m letting you loose.  You’re going to run the last 5k hard but controlled.  Each mile should be faster than the next.  Last mile is your fastest.
-Did you mark the miles,  Jenkins asked.
-Didn’t mark them.  I’m going to tell you where they are.  So pay attention. 

As they listened, they watched him.  Watched his form.  Checked him out.  Sized him up to see if he was a do-as-I–say-not-as-I-do type of man.  They searched for imperfections of which they could privately criticize and heckle.  To Spidestrom, his left ankle seemed to rotate inwards a little funny, but when he mentioned it to Hamz, he got the impression that there was a story behind that rotation.  Spider didn’t mention it again.  Still, in private, they all searched him.  Maybe his sweat lines ran funny.   Maybe he wore his socks too high.  Maybe he gassed as he ran.

-Now study the course when you’re out there.  Make it your homework.  We run here in October.  Maybe November too.  Our first big meet of the year.  Our last big meet of the year.  Pay attention now and your legs will remember it.  It’ll help you in the race.

They ran in a tightly knit pack floating along over the hills that they would struggle with the second time around.  He told them about landmarks and move spots and where runners weakened.  Told them where they needed to be mentally tough and around what corners to surge.  Try it out this morning he told them.  Soon enough they were coming down the homestretch and the boys pushed him to a sub 7:00 pace. 

-Okay men, I’m about to set you loose.  I’m timing you over the last 5k and I’ll see you at the halfway mark.  Remember that each mile is a little faster than the last one.  Be smart.  Pay attention out there.
He eased up as he crossed the finish line and Jenkins et al turned on the gas.  They were itching to go.

-Don’t go crazy now, he yelled.  6:45, 6:30, 6:15.

He wondered if they heard him.  They didn’t look back.  They just marched out toward the dirt road. Already Jenkins gapped his teammates.  Torres and Hammond followed closely in a two-pack with Spidestrom, Smitty, Deo, and Coetaine in arrears.  Hartman knew he’d have to hustle to see Jenkins at the halfway mark then back again at the finish line.  He checked his watch then headed for the old wooden bridge.

He arrived with a minute to spare.  Jenkins was first to pass.

-Watch that head bob.  Lookin good.  Keep it smooth.

Spider must have made a big move because he ran alone behind Jenkins but in front of everyone else.

Next came Torres and Hamz.
-Help each other now.  Hamz: relax those shoulders.  Torres: you do some of the work now.
As Coetaine passed, he grumbled and spit.  He had fallen off the pace.
-Come on now Sam.  It’s like churnin butter.  Keep it movin.

He watched them all go by, even the last two freshmen, Buck and Lee.  Because he waited for the two stragglers, he had to bust his hump to catch Jenkins before he crossed the finish line.  As he did, Hartman yelled out the time and Jenkins clicked off his watch.

-The middle sucked but the end was okay. 
-You got to watch that head bob.  It’s a dead give away.

Jenkins just walked away.  He had to cool out.  Hartman let him go.  Spiderstrom sprinted in full blast and Hartman chided him for it.  Next up: Torres, Smitty, and Hammond, each with a few meters between the other.    Galiozzi was running well and Paws was clicking at his heels.  Kimihara ran the splits just as Hartman had called for, 6:45, 30, 15.  Wallan passed Coetaine in the last mile and the latter struggled into the finish and collapsed on the grass when he crossed the line, but not before ripping off his t-shirt.  Sellberg tried to catch Coetaine but to no avail.  Hartman yelled at him too for this unprescribed sprint.  Some of the guys had already started stretching when Buck and Lee crossed the line.  Their progression run was more like a regression.  They ran slower each mile.  Still, Hartman encouraged them. Paws told them they did a good job.  Kimihara and Torres did too.

-Alright you guys.  Good job.  Everyone survived the week.  I have t-shirts for you in the van.

This got a whoop and a cheer from the team.  Although he never mentioned it and they didn’t dare to either, the coach had a tradition of giving out survivial t-shirts at the end of camp week.  He made the team wear them during hard workouts as a token of their solidarity.  Wearing the t-shirt, he also told them, required a refined deportment, and anyone acting like an asshole, his word, would relinquish his shirt. 

Hartman gave the crew one hour to shower and pack up their belongings.  I’m leaving with the van in sixty-one minutes he told them.  They scurried.

Training Camp 5k: Starkfield State XC Course