Sunday, July 31, 2011

This Week in Running: 7.25 to 7.31.11

Monday - 10.75 in 80:17 + 30 min bike; core
Easy run w/ Ben and his friend at Moose Hill.  Felt good today.  The pace felt slow and easy.  A good sign.
Tuesday - 5 easy miles + easy bike; core w/ calf emphasis
I have been taking Tuesdays as a day off from running.  Today, I introduced a sixth day into the 7 day cycle.
Wednesday - 13.25 in 95:02 + easy bike; core
Nice medium run that progressed to 6:10, 6:17, 6:18 according to Martin's GPS.  This was a great run for Connor.  We saw Tedy Bruschi out there jogging and completely ignored him until it was too late.  He even waved.  Sorry #54!
Thursday - 8 in 60:07; core
4 x 3 min hard w/ 2 min recovery.  Felt nice to be done early in the morning.
Friday - lifting and core
Today is my off day/recovery day from running.  Good deals at the new balance tent sale.  Get there this weekend; it ends Sunday.
Saturday - 10 miles w/ 5 mile race (Carver Cranberry Classic)
27:46; 44th; 5:33 pace.  Time not so fast but pleased with the effort and stoked to be racing again. Full report to follow.
Sunday - 10 easy
Not worrying about time today.

For the Week
57 miles
5 days of easy biking
5 core workouts
1 lifting sequence
Analysis: This was supposed to be a cutback week but I only did 3/4 of a mile less than last week.  Oh well.  This week I introduced a 6th day of running into my 7 day cycle.  That accounts for the mileage total being up a little bit.  I am excited to see how the body will react once I get into the 60's.  Also did my first race since the left foot injury.  It's only been a day but things seem okay.  No jinx.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Chapter 37: Hot Run

Beads of Sweat is a book about running, high school xc running.  This chapter is something we have all experienced: a hot, miserable run.  Enjoy!

     -This Indian Summer is killing me.
     -Can you even say that anymore?
     -What?  It’s hot as hell out here.  Look!
     Smitty stopped in his tracks and bent down.  From his squat position, he pressed his left thumb a quarter inch deep into the sun fried asphalt.
     -I shouldn’t be able to do that in September.
     -Late September.
     -I’m sure they’ll be out here somewhere with water.
     -Don’t be on it.
     The thirteen of them carried on in misery, feeling more and more sorry for themselves with every passing step.  Jenkins was in the pool doing a workout and the boys lamented his good fortune.  He gets a day in the natatorium and is no doubt complaining that the water’s too cold.  The nerve of him.  Here they are out for seven and a half dogs, the sun beating them like an unwanted stepchild, the humidity vice-gripping their necks, and Jenkins wants to be in it with them.  What a sadist.  The temperature hovered near ninety which isn’t that bad but made to feel that bad due to the sixties and seventies they’d experienced over the last couple weeks.  Running in ninety is always tough but over the length of a summer one’s body can acclimate.  Get a hot day in autumn and a boy’s body is sent into a tailspin of dehydration and cinderblock feet.
     Hartman wrote “Chestnut Lollipop” on the clipboard.  He heard the weather forecast and felt a steady aerobic effort was best for his team.  He’d put off the The Michigan for a day or two.  So, today, the Chestnut Lollipop.  The first and last mile and a half was the same, the stick of the candy.  The middle four and a half consisted of rolling, bucolic roads that didn’t see much vehicular traffic.  Bikers, walkers, and runners frequented Chestnut Street in larger numbers than cars.  It was the type of road that on the right day and time became a no man’s land, a real ghost town.
     An unspoken tradition on this run occurred at the top of the lollipop stick.  The team split itself into two groups that would inevitably cross each other.  In runs past, each group kept the other honest.  They kept on pace or even pushed it for fear that their counterpart would hit the midpoint before them.  Not this year.
     They splintered unevenly.  To the left: Gales, Smitty, Coetaine, Wallan, and Spider.  To the right: Hamz, Torres, Deo, and Paws.  Buck and Lee would run the length of the stick and back at Hartman’s orders.  They would only hear about the pursuant drama secondhand, which led to both privately wishing they had run the entire distance.  In the future, they’d petition their coach to do the full team workout. 
     Misery loves company.  Two, maybe three kilometers, into the circumference of the lollipop, Gales launched a pejorative.  Three to be exact: two adjectives and a noun. 
     -No shit, Spider seconded.  He hated long runs in the first place.
     -Look at my fuckin’ shirt, Smitty said.  Drenched in sweat and frustration, he peeled the shirt from his skin and wrung it out with his hands.  He then twirled it into a rat’s tail and snapped Sellberg’s ass with it.
     -Asshole, the Berg was bold enough to say.
     -Come here you little shit, Smitty used his last ounce of energy and the two of them broke into a short lived sprint down Chestnut.  When he caught Sellberg, he rubbed his pungent armpit into his head and neck.
     -I don’t think I can make it the whole way.
     -Are there any shortcuts?
     -We could try cutting through the woods.
     -Fuck that.  Let’s just walk.
     The pace slowed but they kept jogging.  Their run had transitioned from a tempo to a recovery to one of survival.  They were just looking to get back to the Dank at this point.  The road has become quiet and lifeless.  Like a desert before a duel.  Not even a wind.  No witnesses either.  They hung tight together and their legs colluded with every passing step.  Just say the word.
     As they rounded a sharp bend, the word came in the form of a ten percent grade hill.  That hump manifested into the straw that broke Gales’ back.
     -Fuck this shit.
     With that eloquent decree, Gales started walking.  To his left and one step behind, Coetaine followed suit.  They fell like dominoes: Spider, Wallan, even Smitty.  Sellberg kept a jog on but did not run in front of them.  He thought this might be some kind of test.
     -What are you doing?
     He shrugged.  Wallan, also unsure of what exactly was happening, started to jog again. 
     -You two.  Start walking.
     They looked at each other and reluctantly complied.  The grade steepened and the walk came as a welcome relief. 
     -Just to the top of the hill, Smitty said.
     -This is wrong.
     -Shut the fuck up.  We just beat Dansville 15-50.  Shutout. And Hartman has us running a Chestnut.  He’s fucking crazy.  It’s too much.
     -Oh so you think you know more than Hartman?
     -I know my fucking body.  I’m in it.  Not him.
     -Listen.  Dude’s right.  Hartman’s old.  We’re young.  He forgets.
     -We have a big meet this weekend.  This isn’t helping me get ready for that.
     -Oh.  It’s state’s this weekend?
     -Whatever lets you sleep at night, how plucky of Wallan.
     Four of them rationalized their walk to the point that they felt justified.  Two felt guilty, yet succumbed to the pressure.  They knew that the other group would be on the horizon soon enough and wondered what would happen next.
     The quartet saw them before they saw the quartet.  For Sellberg and Wallan it was akin to having a hand caught in the cookie jar, and they instinctively started to jog again.  Spider and Gales looked at them and mumbled something indistinguishable but hard.  Smitty thought they should’ve come up with some phantom injury to justify what they were doing to their teammates.
     -What’s going on, Torres asked.
     -What’s it look like?
     -Why are you walking, he said it as if the thought of doing such a thing had never crossed his mind (and it hadn’t).
     -Because we’re toast.  Because it’s one hundred fucking degrees.  Because Hartman’s a deranged sociopath.
     -Or because you’re fucking pussies, the tone mimed.
     -Lame, Hammond added.
     -Lame?  You know what’s lame Hammond?  You.  You running by when I’m on the ground with the guy who tried to trip you.
     -I didn’t ask you to do that.
     -You’re a coward.
     -You’re a dumbass.
     They got to within fist’s reach of one another.  Torres and Deo jumped between them. 
     -A fucking freshman had to fight for you.
     -How ‘bout I fight you right now?
     They jostled the boys that held them back.
     -Let’s go pussy.
     Hammond freed himself from Torres’ grab and made it a step and a half before Torres regrabbed his right side and Deo his left.  They kept gesturing toward one another but their teammates would not relinquish them.  They breathed heavy and swore.  Their taunts heightened once they knew the grip of their teammates would not relax.  They were just like any other boy who posed to fight when he damn well knew his friends wouldn’t let him.
     Witness, Paws stood incredulous.  He couldn’t believe two teammates stood ready to draw down on each other.  Couldn’t decide that half his team decided to quit in the middle of a run.  What a confederacy of losers.  How could they win anything with that willpower?  Where the hell is Jenkins, that one man kangaroo court, to restore law and order with this team?
     -Sellberg.  What the hell are you doing, Paws said.  He could only attack a fellow PFB.
     Sellberg shrugged.
     -Why you walking?  I didn’t think you were a lame ass pussy.
     -Shut the hell up Tinkerbell, from Coetaine.
     -I think you’re all pussies.
     -Who the hell do you think you are?  You’re a freshman.  You ain't shit.  You ain’t even got hair on your balls.
     -He’s got more balls than you.
     -Listen we better start up again or Hartman’ll know something’s up.
     -I’m not running no more.
     -We’re not walking, Deo said.
     -Fine.  You’re all just goodie two shoes.  Go ahead.  Run away.  We don’t give a shit.
     They paused and sized each other up.
     -Is that Hartman, Deo pointed far into the offing.  He knew it wasn’t him but said it anyway.
     -Oh shit, Coetaine said and started sprinting down the road.
     They all followed suit.  Only difference between them being that one group picked up an extra two runners.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Level Renner Issue #1 Now Available!

the debut

Level Renner Issue 1: the debut

Level Renner is a journal of (new england) running for the old school literary athlete. It is for runners by runners. This issue features articles on performance, nutrition, and the Stowe Eight Miler, in addition to a commentary on runners v. dogs. Three elite athletes are profiled: Bob Wiles, Jo…

Find out more on MagCloud

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Cover

You are looking at the cover of the debut issue of Level Renner, a journal of (New England) running for the old school literary athlete.  Issue #1 should be available in another week or so.  More info to follow as we get closer to the release date.  For now, you can learn more about Level Renner on facebook.  Please "like" it if you do!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Chapter 36: Dansville

Beads of Sweat is a novel about a high school cross country's team quest for a championship.  Here they take on a weaker opponent and cruise to victory.

Through a mile and a half Hammond led the race.  He didn’t intend to, but somebody had to keep the pace honest.  Through the first quarter the Jackets looked at each other incredulous that the Dansville team took it out at what seemed like a warmup trot.  Surely they could run faster than that.  Prerace, Hartman instructed them to run as a pack.  Without Jenkins the objective morphed to a lowering of team time, the number of minutes and seconds—hopefully just seconds—that elapse between the team’s first man and fifth man.  The top five score so the quicker a squad can jam them in, the better, just as long as that team isn’t too far behind everyone else.  Having a small team time doesn’t much matter if the group is running twenty-four minutes for a 5K.  The running community calls this condensed running strategy a pack attack.  The motto every year finds itself on the back of a high schoolers’ t-shirts, but not on Springfield’s.  Their coach liked keeping things esoteric; he used Latin, sometimes Greek, and abbreviations. 
     Hammond knew the pace was slow, but the people surrounding him were all teammates and not rivals.  He flashbacked a week and panicked that Dansville was baiting them and outsmarting them just like Kelrock did.
     -I think we should pick up the pace, he said.
     -Let’s go, Torres seconded.
     As one, they opened up their strides.  Hammond, Torres, Spidestrom, Smith, and Kimihara ran together and produced a chasm between themselves and the rest of the participants.  A second pack of Jackets (Coetaine, Wallan, Sellberg, Buck, Lee) sprinkled with a few Dansville runners also formed and hung about twenty, then thirty, then forty meters off the lead group.  Undoubtedly, Gales and Paws would have changed the complexion of those packs but they were serving their suspensions.  From the sidelines, they cheered their mates and relived the melee a couple times over.  Jenkins, too, would’ve changed how the race was run but he somehow managed to get his bike on the bus and was out riding circuits of the course.  The kid was determined not to lose conditioning and had it in his head that he’d be racing Starkfield on Saturday.  In truth, the swelling in his ankle had contracted and the bruising started its magnificent kaleidoscope of hues.  All he had to do now: convince the coach.
     At two miles they started to thin and still no major threat from Dansville.  Maybe they had a weak squad this year.  Hammond’s mind sped faster than his legs.  He worried about a Dansville onslaught in the last half-mile.  Nobody did more worrying while running than this boy.  He worried that his pace would be slower than his father’s liking; he worried that an inferior teammate might pass him.  As the leader of the race, he started to realize how great things would be if he came home with a victory.  His dad would be beyond ebullient.  Then he started to worry if he won today would he be expected to win on Saturday?  Snap to reality: with Spider nipping at his heels, Spider with his sub sixty quarter speed, those idealistic worries were quickly cast aside.  Torres, too, could kick a man down with nothing more than gunsmoke.
     Hammond did what he thought he needed to do.  He one stepped Spidestrom and Torres and pushed the pace.  He tried to gap them, make a move on them, but Torres sidled next to him and tapped his wristband to Hammond’s.  Then Franklin twisted his torso back to Spider.
     -Remember, remember, he said as he held Hartman’s word up to Hammond’s eyes and then Spider’s. 
     Hammond nodded.  Spider said, right.  The trio could fit into a basketball hoop they ran so closely.  Spider this time twisted his torso to assess their status.  No purple in sight.  Only Springfield colors. 
     -We got this, he said, Get out the brooms.
     He mimed a sweeping the floor motion then stopped suddenly.  Like a sublimated ghost, Hartman appeared on the other side of the carriage road.  He did not clap or yell or exhort.  He spoke in a low voice, Keep it professional.  Respect the opponent.  The sport.  No Dragons in sight Georgie boys.
     -Let’s take it home, Hammond said.
     -Nice and steady…Now Spider don’t get any heroic thoughts in your head about outsprinting us in the last fifty.
     -We’re a team.
     -I know.
     Torres held up his forearm again.  You respect your team and your elders, he said.  Hamz will take the W, I’ll take second, and you’ll take third.
     -That’s crap.
     -Oh…so do you want your noogies now or after Hamz takes a shit on your head while Gales and Smitty tie you up and hold you down? 
     Torres grabbed at him and attempted mid-race noogies.  Hammond was so relieved he could’ve kissed Franklin. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

This Week in Running: 7.18 to 7.24.11

Monday - 10.25 in 76:14; core
First run w/ Ben in months.  Too bad I felt like crap.
Tuesday - 2+ hour bike w/ KJ (lots of stops); core
Wednesday - 12.5 in 84:40; core; easy biking
Awesome run.  In a groove the whole way.  First 3: 7:36, 6:58, 6:43.  Final 3: 6:18, 6:43, 6:13.  Saw a big red fox out there looking for his breakfast.
Thursday - 9.75 in 69:55; leg core; easy biking
6 x 3 min comfortably hard w/ 2 min recovery.  I woke up early and finished before it was too hot out there.  Body felt pretty good.
Friday - lifting sequence and core; easy biking
Saturday - 17 in 2:09.12; leg core
Legs felt good then ran into some stomach issues over the last hour.  Unfortunately, that kept the pace slower than I intended.  Still happy to get 17 in the bank.  Not as hot as I anticipated.
Sunday - 8.25 + stride session
Easy run.  First time I've done strides in a while.

For the Week
57 3/4 running miles
lots of biking
5 core workouts
1 lifting sequence
Analysis: The steady progression of miles continues again this week.  The last month looks like this: 44, 49, 54, 57.  That's on five days of running per week.  I think it's time to introduce a sixth day and monitor closely.  The foot is feeling good but I am still icing and massaging constantly.  Next will be a bit of a cutback week in anticipation of Carver, my first race since February.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Chapter 35: Sunday Long

Beads of Sweat is a novel about a hs cross country team.  Today the boys venture out on a Sunday long run, a religious experience for at least one of them.

     He brought them to different places each weekend.  In the offseason, he’d scout trailheads with small dirt parking lots.  Once he found one, he’d lace up and see where the path took him.  Sometimes it turned out to be a dud.  Other times, a gold mine, a hidden gem.  When he struck three sevens on the slot machine of trails, he’d go home and research it.  He liked working backwards.  Cartography was a hobby of his.  Maps and atlases cluttered his basement alongside the running books, so he’d pull out his volumes and go to work.  He never used the internet for such things.
     He put together a good loop for today.  Its shape a large capital D, the route consisted of two trails: Warner and Skyline.  Both made up parts of larger systems.  Warner cut a line from Diamond Hill to Blue Hill, and Skyline travelled from the fells to the southern part of the state.  Today the boys would run thirteen miles on mostly single track.  All they had to do was follow the blue inverted pyramids that marked Warner and the then the oblong yellow rectangles that signaled Skyline.  The switch came at about five and a half.  He told them that twice. 
     Every single scamper of a squirrel made him jump just about a mile into the air.  How could such a small thing create such obstreperosity?  He’d look and expect a bear or wolverine or at least a deer but only see two half-pint squirrels chasing each other through dried out leaves.  As he did on most Sunday runs, Hammond ran himself into a no man’s land, where he could be alone with the trail.  Up ahead Torres, Smith, Spidestrom, Kimihara (and Jenkins if he wasn’t on the bike), then Hamz, then the rest of the team.  He came to cherish the Sunday long.  It became the place for him to think good thoughts.  A place free of worry.  A place where he could talk back and yell and scream at his father.  A place where he could be a kid and not be scorned. 
     Over the last month, the Sunday long became something in which he could cherish.  He loved the solitude.  On them, he distanced himself from the prating of teenagers.  On them, he managed the pressure from his father.  On them, he envisioned defending himself, talking back, telling him to fuck off and giving him a shove in the chest.  Then in almost the same moment he imagined running unbelievable races and not needing to do any of that.  And that’s how it was for Hammond on Sunday mornings.  He got out there, found himself alone, and started conjuring.  And despite the domineering role his father played, he did not totally dominate him.  Something in Paul’s psychology would not allow the old man to enshroud the whole boy.  He carried a fire in him that nobody could expunge.  Couldn’t explain the ember—just knew that it was there and would always be. 
     While Hammond housed those thoughts on his Sunday longs, others, like Kimihara and Pawgoski for example, could think of nothing more than the task at hand.  The last three miles of the long run demanded their undivided attention.  Thoughts secondary to the immediate task of finishing vaporized over the last twenty percent.  They entered survival mode.  Similar to a Springvale threshold but not exactly the same.  At ten the fade started and Pawgoski lost sense of himself.  Form.  Focus on form, Hartman had told them.  Use your arms.  Not just your legs.  He tried but it didn’t help all that much.  Maybe it got him over a hill or through a narrow defile then he returned to his dead legs.  For the last mile he told, no promised, himself not to look at his wrist.  He held off as long as he could but gave way in a moment of unthinking.  He played this game every week over a route in which he wasn’t familiar.  Avoid, avoid, avoid for the first ten and then look, look, look obsessively over the last three.  Once you start, you can’t stop.  75:07, 76:01, 79:30, 86:05, 86:58, 87:59, 89:16.  He’d swear on his momma’s grave that at least ten minutes passed only to look down and discover that three had elapsed.  Devastating.  And it can’t be stopped.  Once initialized the watch game doesn’t end until the run does.  It becomes an exercise in psychological strength.  What does one do when he thinks he’s one mile from the finish only to learn that it’s two and a half?  Does he stop, slow, or quit?  Does he maintain, surge, bear down?  The answer to these questions defines the harrier.  That’s what Hartman was doing with these Sunday longs.  He was asking his team a question, a question that they must all answer for themselves.  It was always the same question and if they allowed themselves to be asked again and again they would arrive at the correct answer, for it was antithetical to the human condition to accept defeat Sunday after Sunday.

     At church he wished he was on trail.  On trail he wished he was at church.  Hartman’s installation of a Sunday practice caused the pious boy much ambivalence.  He never experienced such feelings; he had always possessed surety and confidence in all things.  In God.  In family.  In running.  In coach.  In favorite baseball team.  His personal angst led to the development of the smallest possible rift with his parents.  He wanted to please them.  They wanted him to go to church.  He wanted to run and go to church.  This dilemma manifested itself into impossible conjurations: an unwalled church in the woods with a mobile congregation or a miniature church that he could hold in his hand while running the trails.  In one moment he wished the whole team would convert and experience his conflict.  They were so oblivious and teased what they did not understand.  In another moment he denounced his religion and vowed to take a spiritual life devoid of bureaucratic dogma and mandates.  He wanted God on Sundays not an antiquated editorial.  And did Jesus really want him to wear a blazer in an eighty-five degree unairconditioned power?  He never thought such thoughts, never thought of emerging from the larva, before the fall of his sophomore year.

     Every Sunday morning Hartman picked them up in his van right in front of the Dank Tank.  Departure time was 8:28.  If he was in a good mood, he’d allow a two-minute grace period before leaving.  If you missed the van, somebody was in the backseat dialing a number or texting the location of the run.  He never told them where they were going until the morning of.  Starting on Thursday, their off day, they played a guessing game and nobody had guessed right so far in three chances.
     They were always done with the Sunday long before eleven am.  Hartman made that an objective: Run thirteen miles.  Finish by 11:00.  LSD to marathon pace.  He reiterated week after week that this run built aerobic capacity.  Just finishing it was enough for most of them.  Of course, he told his top five that this need not be so easy as he portended publicly.  Upperclassmen could handle it.  They didn’t mind because the faster they ran the sooner they could focus on the food.  An unspoken tradition had developed over the last month: you show up and run, Hartman buys you breakfast.  Probably illegal according to the state high school governing body of athletics but he did it anyway.  He knew gathering a group of young men to break bread together did more for team than the run itself.  Everyone appreciated breakfast on the old man who knew good, clean spirited camaraderie was hard to coach.  

Sunday, July 17, 2011

This Week in Running: 7.12 to 7.18.11

Monday - 11 in 77:54 + core
Hot but good; starting to get in shape.  Fastest at end.
Tuesday - 90+ min bike (70/20) + core w/ calf emphasis
planned off day from running
Wednesday - 12 in 88:38 + core
Padded the mileage due to slow start.  Solid.
Thursday - 8.5 in 63:01 + core
5 x 3 min "comfortably hard" w/ 2 min rec; today was my first foray into "speed"work since the Feb. injury.  You gotta start somewhere, right?  Kept it very controlled. Gorgeous morning.
Friday - lifting w/ leg core + bike riding
Saturday - 16 in 2:02 + pm bike riding
Much better than last Saturday.  I can feel my legs getting stronger.  A good one.
Sunday - 7 in 52:49
I think I'm ready to make this recovery day a little longer.  Felt fine.

For the Week
54 1/2 running miles
~120 mins on bike
5 core workouts
1 lifting sequence
Analysis: Wishing I was at the Stowe 8.  Thinking about all the runners going all out there.  Waiting for the results to post...This was another good building week.  Mileage is up and pace is getting slightly faster without even trying.  I want to keep progressing without getting too avaricious.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Chapter 34: Lewis Park

Beads of Sweat is a novel about running.  This chapter chronicles the team's first invitational and actually brings the boys through the finish of a race.

It happened on the warmup.  A sinkhole inlaid with grass surreptitiously, patiently waiting for its prey.  All the culprit predator needed was somebody immersed in conversation or glancing to the left or looking beyond it.  It placed itself so perfectly, so open, so obvious, a purloined letter of sorts.  As lucid as the Fedex spoon and arrow.  Stepping into it was like having one stair left when you think you’ve already reached the bottom.  The knee undergoes and unnatural buckle and oscillation; the ankle can twist either in or out.  Jenkins’ twisted in.  His next stride did not happen.  He was on the ground.  He completed two full barrel roles and he wasn’t even going that fast.  Blades of grass clung to the back of his neck and t-shirt.  He came up grabbing at his ankle.  He swore.  Then in the very next moment he put himself back on his own two feet.  He was doing what boys like him instinctively do.  He tried to run again and made it six ginger steps.  The ankle couldn’t take the weight.  He went back down again.  More cussing.
     -Oh fuck, oh fuck.  The look on his face scared his teammates.  To see that look of concern and fright—not pain, just concern and fright—overcome his countenance made everyone’s stomach turn.  Some immediately thought “there goes the season; there goes our chances.”  Others worried about the person, not the runner.  Jenkins was their leader.  He never wavered.  His hand never shook.  The freshmen defined him as invincible.  They never even thought he got tired.  How could something like this happen to their superman who was impervious to things like hills and exhaustion and soreness?
     -Go get Hartman.  Hurry.  Go.  Go!  Sellberg and Wallan sprinted to their base camp. 
     Six minutes later Hartman and Pereira arrived on the scene.  They made their way through the swarm to see their queen bee.  By this time, the sneaker was off and Jenkins was rubbing at his ankle but not letting anyone else near it. 
     -Why’d you take the sneaker off?
     -I don’t know…What?  Smitty told me to.
     Hartman shook his head.  Never take the shoe off.  You keep it on to prevent the thing from swelling.  You take it off, it balloons. 
     Balloon it did.  In those six minutes it enlarged from golf ball to racquet ball to tennis ball.  Hartman bent down and took the foot into his hands.  Wallan caught this first gesture in such as way that it reminded him of Holy Thursday.  He turned the foot over and flexed it a myriad of ways and rubbed it with vigor.  Jenkins only grimaced once or twice.  The coach looked it over one more time, gave it a slap, and stood up.  The guys couldn’t believe how rough Hartman was with his star pupil’s injured ankle. 
     -You guys have a warmup to complete.  Get going.
     They stared at him blankly awaiting a diagnosis.
     -Get going I said.
     They still waited.
     -Look, I don’t want you here for the amputation.  You know what they do to horses, right?  I don’t want you to see that.  You have a race to run.  Get yourselves ready.
     A few of them chuckled nervously. 
     -Hey. Come on guys.  Let’s go, Pereira led them away from the scene.
     Each one looked back at least once, and the whole team stared when they made a hairpin around the butt of the stonewall.  What they saw was Ryan Jenkins, one arm around Hartman, limping his way toward their camp.
     As soon as they were out of earshot, Galiozzi started in on Pereira.
     -Coach, I gotta run now, right?
     -I don’t think so.  What’d you think the boss would say?
     -Oh come on.  The team needs me.
     -We needed you at Kelrock but you decided to punch some guy’s lights out.
     He smiled but he tried to hide it.  He knew the prospect of convincing Hartman was slim, so when he tried and was denied, he didn’t complain all that much.  He resigned himself to waterboy status. 
     Back at basecamp, the team lacked focus.  Jenkins propped up his foot and leaned against a horse-chestnut.  He complained about his ankle being frozen but refused to put a cloth between the skin and the ice.  The event’s athletic trainer came over and administered a quick exam.  You’ll be out two weeks, she said, nothing major.  Jenkins muttered obscenities.  All this occurring while the rest of the squad tried to prep for the race.  In the moment Hartman was disappointed and irked at how his young men could not handle the slightest bit of adversity, yet ten hours removed from the incident he appreciated how much the team cared for one of their fallen brothers.  His unspoken agenda had taken hold.
     Everyone panicked when the man with the megaphone announced five minutes until the start of the boys’ varsity championship race.  Hartman surveyed the circle and started barking.
     -Adam, what are you doing static stretches for?
     -Deo, where are your spikes?  Get them on.
     -Seniors get control of your team.  This is a blippin joke.  Get to the line and do your strides. 
     Their first strider consisted of sprinting over to the line.  Shirttails flapping, they made it with a minute to spare (late start).  They huddled at the chalk.  Smitty was the most vocal.  Watch the red of Paddington and the blue of Kelrock.  So help me God if I see somebody from Kelrock pass you without a fight.
     -Let’s run hard and show ‘em.
     -Let’s do it for Jenks.
     -Yeah.  For Jenks.  Jackets on three.  One.  Two.  Three.
     Smitty’s succinct edict must’ve struck a chord with the team because they decimated Kelrock.  A methodical crushing.  Just like the duel meet against the Rockies but in reverse.  This time the Jackets were able to showcase their strength in the second half of the race.  Showcase the fruits of an accumulating base sprinkled with lots of hills.  The Jackets picked up tens of points over the last mile.  Torres passed five and moved all the way up to fourth overall.  Hammond picked six, Spider two in the final sprint, Smitty, an absolute beast, passed nine, two of them Kelrockians.  Even their last two runners, Coetaine and Wallan, combined to pass three more.  Yes, they were harried and out of sorts but they pulled it together during the race and ran how Hartman told them to on Friday.  If they could continue to run this way through the sharpening phase in November, they’d be the force Hartman knew they could be.  They ran smart; they demolished Kelrock, but they did not win the meet.  Jenkins’ absence was too much for them to surmount.  Springfield took the show position while rival Paddington and out-of-staters Norwood took the top two spots.

Lewis Park Meet Team Results (Top 5)

1.  Paddington     39
2.  Norwood        62
3.  Springfield    68
4.  Buxton         90
5.  Kelrock        126

     Much good came out of the meet.  Not one for moral victories, Hartman still synthesized and netted positives.  Early in the season and points still leaden—moreso than most impatient teams—he thought the boys ran well.  They finished strong and all indicators suggested a longer race equating to a lower overall score.  The guys were picking them off like flower petals in the last kilometer.  That’s strength and toughness: both physical and mental.  Bearing down required a gritty composite.  An intangible instilled upon men or never possessed by men or inherited from the fathers of men who once derived it from a war or lack of food.  Part surrogate, perhaps Hartman was one of these men—a ghost walking the fertile earth—put here to keep a fire alive, to carry a torch in a world marginalized by time that barely kept its last embers glowing orange.  A man placed here to turn boys into men, provide the lost with direction.

This Week in Running: 7.4 to 7.10.11

Monday - 9 miles in 66:31 + core
Middle miles sub 6:40 so I might've gone longer than 9.  Felt good.
Tuesday - 84 min bike + core
Planned off day from running.
Wednesday - 11 in 80:39 + core
some splits: 7:33, 7:03, 6:57, 7:03...7:07, 6:34, 6:29, 6:43
Thursday - 8.25 easy + core
easy, easy
Friday - lift and leg core w/ short bike ride
Saturday - 14.5 in 1:52
Did not go smoothly.  Never in a groove.  Always slow.  Wanted 15 but what was I going to do jog around my neighborhood for another half mile to get a nice round number?  Not today.  Went for a short bike ride w/ KJ in tow this afternoon.
Sunday - 7 in 53:58
Easy start; felt much better than y'day.

For the Week
49.5 miles running
100 mins on bike
5 core workouts + 2 w/ calf emphasis
1 lifting sequence
Analysis: Wouldn't hit 50 if I put in another click on Saturday, but I wasn't in the mood to chase (half) miles.  All said, another good week in building and the pace of some of the runs is naturally coming down.  Below is the most famous mural from Cy Twombly's 50 Days at Ilium.

Cy Twombly: Like a Fire that Consumes All before It

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

RIP Cy Twombly

Cy Twombly: one of the best abstract artists we have ever seen.  This one is the shield of Achilles (inspired by The Iliad.)

Monday, July 4, 2011

This Week in Running: 6.26 to 7.3.11

A quick note for those of you reading Beads of Sweat.  It's going on hiatus for a little bit.  It is complete and it will be back.  Now, onto the running.

Monday - 8 miles in 59:31 + core
Finished with a 7:19 and that felt about right.
Tuesday - 30 min bike
Off/recovery day
Wednesday - 8.25 miles in 60:31 + core
Felt good. Experienced in the hill in Pumpkin Hill Rd.  Lover's Leap State Park is gorgeous and this was one of those runs where you feel so blessed to be alive and running.
Thursday - 8.75 in 64:54 + core
Swedish Cabin Run w/ some extra.  Hesitant to call it 9 even though I'm feeling stronger and faster.  The foot is responding well but I am babying it with massage and ice.  Two good runs in a row.  Wore the Scott eRide MR3 for the first time today.  Not bad.
Friday - 50 min bike + core
Off/recovery day
Saturday - 12 in 91:02
Guessing the distance.  Some splits: 7:48, 7:11, 6:58, 7:30, ..., 7:16, 6:46, 13:45 (for two--obviously).   Longest run since the February injury.  Progressing in baby steps.
Sunday - 7 slow ones
Trying to go easy on the easy days and not worry about time.

For the Week
44 running miles
80 mins on bike
4 core workouts
Analysis: A good building week.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Coming Soon

Level Renner: a journal of New England running for the literary athlete.  More details to come.