Monday, March 7, 2011

Chapter 9: Session Two

Beads of Sweat is a novel about a cross country team's quest for a state championship.  I'm releasing chapters in serial form; to find previous ones click on the "Fiction" tab at the top of the page.

On the board of room 215A at Wharton Academic laid a sparse agenda:

  1. Running History / Biography
  2. Running Appreciation
  3. Running Theory
  4. Running Literature
On each desk a bluebook and number two pencil rested.  The pencils were freshly sharpened and the bluebooks half full of notes.  He had told them to date each set of notes at the top of a fresh page and to transcribe the agenda directly under it.  Told them they should do the same for their academic classes too.  He sat at the front of the room and read a thick book.  Engrossed, he continued despite the obstreperous prattle of high school boys filing into a classroom. 

-It’s nice and cool in here.
-I know.  Better than our dorms.  At least this place has ac.
-Hey, did you see that girls’ team run by before lunch today?
-Oh yeah.
-Do you think that was a high school or college team?
-College probably.  Our girls’ team don’t look like that.
-No shit.  Why can’t we get good lookin girls on our team?
-I know.  They’re not even fast.
-That’s the worst.  Ugly and slow.
-What about Maggie?  She’s hot.
-Lindsey too.
-Yeah, so that’s two.  Out of what?  Like fifteen.
-Hey, how come they’re not here this week?
-I heard they weren’t even having a camp week this year.
-Lucky them.
-Maybe that’s why they suck.

Hartman shut his book and the team snapped to.  Knowing that a teenage boy’s attention maxed out at a dozen minutes tops, he broke every afternoon into four segments.  Mini-lectures he called them.  So far this week he gave them history lessons on Pheidippides, Clarence DeMar, and Jesse Owens.  He showed them grainy clips from famous races: the duel in the sun, the 1984 women’s Olympic marathon, the 1972 Olympic 5000m.  He even recommended books to his team, all of which he told them in some fashion contributed to his training philosophy: Running to the Top, Run Strong, Peak When It Counts, Only One Hill.  He gave them fiction to read as well, stuff that would make them tougher.  Lots of Hemingway and McCarthy.  Some of the guys even looked up a few of the titles; Torres in particular read most of them, and most of them read his required summer reading.

It was 1330 and Hartman counted nine yawns in the last three minutes. 
-Okay men.  Here’s today’s objective.  I want you to write this down.
Hartman grabbed a thick marker and pressed hard into the whiteboard.

You will be able to list 3 non-Running activities that will make you a Faster Runner.

     -Everybody got it down?  Lee you got it?  Okay good.  Now everyone come down to the front of the room and line up in front of the board facing me. 
     The team shuffled to the board.
     -What now?
     -Who knows?
     -I just want to go to bed right now.
     Hartman hustled them along to the front of the room. 
     -Alright now sit down on the floor facing me.
     -On the floor?
     -Yes, the floor.  I want to show you something.  Coetaine, you can help me out.  Everybody turned to Coetaine.
     Hartman had prepped him for this after their morning run, so he knew what was coming. 
     -Okay Coetaine.  I want you to sit with your legs straight out and your arms by your sides.
     He complied.
     -Okay good.  Now bend your arms up as high as they can go so your fists are at your chest.
     Coetaine followed the directions with precision.
     -Now here comes the hard part.  Watch closely guys.  Coetaine, I want you to thrust your arms down as forcefully as you can.  Like this.
     Hartman, who was standing before the line, showed him exactly what to do.
     -Are you ready?
     -Okay guys, watch Coetaine closely.  Coetaine, on my go. 
     He waited for a couple of seconds.

     Coetaine thrust his arms downward as hard as he could and in doing so jettisoned his body a good six inches off the ground.  In a split second his ass was back on the floor.

     -Oh shit.
     -Did you see that?
     -That was wild.

     A couple of them tried it to no avail.  They looked like idiots slapping and fluttering their arms without rhyme or reason. 

     - Coetaine, how’d you do that?
     -Don’t be jealous of my skills.
     The banter and attempts continued for a few moments more.  No one looked soporific.
     -Okay Coetaine, Hartman said, tell them how you did it.
     -Alright, alright.  I used the momentum from my upper body to propel my lower body off the ground.
     -Yeah but how?

     -It’s all in the technique.  You have to hold your arms in tight then explode them toward the floor.             You guys have to pay attention to technique.  You can’t do it without the proper technique.

     -I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do that.   That’s crazy.
     -You’re going to do it right now, Hartman said.  Now Coetaine, take them through the sequence again.

     He did and not at first but eventually the whole team got their asses airborne for at least a fraction of a second. 

     -Oh man.  I felt my ass take off.
     -That was so weird.
     They did it again and again until their bottoms tired of it. Hartman reined them in.
     -So what’s the purpose of this drill?  What’s the point of it?  To what field event does this relate?
     -The shot put?
     -The long jump?
     -Close. Anybody else?
     -The high jump, Hammond said.
     -Good Hamz.  How’d you know that?
     -Because Coetaine’s a high jumper.
     -Clever. Now to first look at that drill you wouldn’t think it has anything to do with the high jump.          When people think high jump, they think of legs and an arched back.  Nobody pays attention to the arms, but it’s the arms that will get you an extra couple of inches.
     -I jumped 6’3” last year once I started working on my arms.
     -Men the same goes for the core work.  The pushups, the planks, the ab work.  It isn’t always the obvious stuff that makes you a better runner.  You derive your power from your core, he waved over his midsection.  The stronger your core the faster you run.  I’m not crazy.  I’m not having you work this area, another wave, for no reason. 

     The boys attended him closely.  Paws didn’t blink.  Something registered with Spidestrom and Wallan too.  Hartman had them in the palm of his hand and went on for five more minutes outlining all the core work they could do that would make them better, stronger, more efficient runners.  They sat there cross-legged and listened.

     -Okay now boys off your shanks.  Go to your desks and complete the objective I wrote on the board.


Muddy Puddin' said...

I tried Coetaine's trick...I can't do it...I think all of the beer weighs me down.

KG said...

It is possible. It can be done. I learned that at USATF Level 1 school....Interesting thoughts on LATS. Let me know if it gets any better. And thanks again for reading, and please feel free to pass on to others.

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