Monday, June 20, 2011

Chapter 33: One Hill

Beads of Sweat is a book about high school running.  This chapter follows the team in their first workout after their loss to Kelrock.

The guys started to lament their geography.  Every time they laced up it seemed like Hartman found another hill for them to run.  Mountain Road, Blue Hills, the undulations of Springvale, and now One Hill.  They’d have the strongest quadriceps and hamstrings in the whole state if they kept this up.  And when, inevitably, they started to whine and crave flatter ground, Hartman told them to move to Nebraska.  Nebraska?  Nebraska…Okay, fine.  How about Iowa?
            Today Hartman drove them out in the van to the One Hill Recreational Center.  Five miles from campus, it was just a bit too far for a high school warmup.  If they were in college, he’d have them do it, but a third of his team just couldn’t handle the miles—yet.  They were pups, PFB’s. 
            In reality, One Hill wasn’t much of a hill.  Its name was the most ominous thing about it.  That and it had a bunnyslope with miniature ski lift along side it for the young kids learning to ski.  No Jackets, however, were skiing down the hill; they were running up it.  But just a couple of times at the end of the real workout.  The majority of Hartman’s workout involved a 1K loop around the circumference of the park.  They didn’t even have to run to the peak.  Yes, the perimeter was composed of hills and dales but it was no straight up Blue Hills workout. 
            On the clipboard:
1) To acclimate body to LT pace
                                    2) To strengthen upper leg muscles
                                    1 x 3K
                                    1 x 2K
                                    1 x 1K
                                    All at LT pace
                                    2-4 x bunnyslope
                                    3K warmup; 2K cooldown

            -You’d think with all this hill work they’d get easier.
            -I don’t know if it’s helping.
            -If we need anything, it’s speed work not strength work.
            Hartman picked up on these murmurs coming from the back of the van and decided to confront them head on after the warmup.  So with the team brandishing a light sweat on its brow, he shared his philosophy.
            -Listen men.  I have a plan.  You need to know that.  It’s not short term.  It’s long term.  We will be running our best in November.  That is and will always be the goal.  We’re building power and endurance now.  We’re not fine-tuning yet.  Yeah, we lost to Kelrock and that pisses me off and it should piss you off too.  That’s good.  You have anger in you.  You carry a fire in you.  That’s good.  You’ll need it.  But you got to know when to use it.  You can’t go pissing it away on some Wednesday afternoon when nobody is watching.  Who gives a shit about some lousy dual meet?  It’ll be in a box score some Thursday morning and then we’ll never see it again.  Listen, I know we live in a please me now culture and that you want to see immediate results, but we have long term goals here.  Everything leading up the class meet is a checkpoint.  Kelrock was a checkpoint.  Paddington will be a checkpoint.  Today’s workout is a checkpoint.  We’ll struggle through some hill loops and assess our progress and we’ll adjust it if we need to.  Nothing’s set in stone.  We are better than Kelrock and we will show them that Saturday.  Unlike every other race up to his point, we are going to run full strength.  We may not be completely fresh, but we’ll be full strength. 
            -Hoop, hoop, from Deo, then general grunts and whoops.
            -Coach Pereira, anything to add?
            -One thing: this man, a point, is one of the best coaches in the state.  Be patient.  You’ll get the results.
            -I got something to say.
            -Okay then.
            -Kelrock played us.  I didn’t run the race so I got to see what happened.  Straight up we got played.  They outsmarted us.  We screwed around on the warmup.  Didn’t pay attention to the course and it came back to bite us.  We were dumb.  They coaxed us into a trap and we fell for it.  The only thing we can do now is get revenge.
            -Step one is this workout.
            They ran in two groups: varsity and junior varsity.  Once both groups began their first 3K loop, Hartman and Pereira discussed what to do about Gales.  Post meet, the Kelrock coach and Hartman agreed to handle the situation in-house without the involvement of athletic directors.  They had a long standing professional relationship and each trusted the other would discipline as appropriate.  In three kilometers Hartman and Pereira concluded to suspend Galiozzi for two meets: Starkfield and the next dual.  Pawgoski would just miss the dual.  Nothing for Hammond.  Breaking this news would not be fun.  Hartman wished that he could just run them more.  Run them to contrition.  But he knew that wasn’t right either.  He had a long standing internal conflict with whether or not it was appropriate to assign running as punishment.  He wanted his boys to love running, not associate it with poor deportment.  Yet the temptation remained.  What better way to get a few more miles out of a guy than to make him run when he breaks rules.  He often thought of the T-shirt that read “our sport is your sport’s punishment.”  That’s true, but he still had to work out the psychology of the whole thing.  Sometimes kids liked being punished.  Other kids would abhor this sentence and in that moment a seed of contempt would germinate.  The coach’s job was to figure out both the kid and the situation and be able to match things up just right.  Forget physiology; this was sport was more psychology. 
            Jenkins came through the 3K first, his form smooth and without bounce.  Looking at his watch, Hartman knew he was hammering at faster than LT pace and let him hear it.
            -No, Jenks said, it felt fine.
            -Bullshit, inaudible.
            But if that was the case, Hartman had a state champion on his hands.  He glanced over his shoulder at his incarnate Pre before redirecting himself to the crest that marked the endpoint of the loop.  Gales ran like a monster, right at the back of Torres, Spidestrom, Hammond, ran like a man trying to impress his coach to abdication. 
            In fifty seconds, the whole varsity finished.  In two minutes, the jv crossed the line. 
            -Huddle up guys, Hartman waved them over.  I’m glad to see you’re all wearing your wristbands.  Too bad, you got them all wrong.  Take ‘em off and try again.
            -We’re all sweaty.
            -That’s right.  We sweat as a team.
            -I don’t want Galiozzi’s sweat near me.  Dude’s got the clap!
            -The clap!
            -Hey, Gales said, one sweat, one blood, one disease.
            They peeled off the bands and threw them at each other then into the centerpoint of their circle.  They picked them up, made comments, and put them on once again.  They repeated the ritual two more times before the practice ended.

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