Another writing that I found from a while back. I think I had reminesced about the first day of cross country practice at about the same time that the writing about the first day of track had crossed my mind... so I think was around 1996 or 1997.
The front lawn of the school along Main was still hot, even in the shade of the early August afternoon and the humid air still smelt of strong summer air.... sort of a mix of hot pavement, cut grass, dust and sweat. These were the beginning of the closing days of summer and because we were starting practice today for cross country, I could tell that the end of summer of definitely closing in on us.
We had all began to gather for practice about 20 minutes ago and were now anxiously waiting for Coach to come out and tell us what to do. He had just been outside talking to some of us, but then looked at his watch, got serious and his head and eyes darted around and then he hurriedly walked into to the front door of the school. He often reminded me of large mustached hummingbird... doing one thing and talking to one person then shifting gears and talking to somebody else in the next second. He wasn't one to sit still for too long. He was always on the go.
Right now he was off somewhere else and we all began to horse around. A few of the guys started to carried away and were wrestling on the grass. A couple others, including one of the girls, were playing catch with a football that some kids had come to the playground of the school with to play. The rest of the girls all huddled together and chirped away about someone... except one of the older girls who was laughing at herself as she rode a bicycle that was 4 times too small for her around in circles.
I laid back on the grass and tried to relax and soak it all in. This was my last year of school that was about to start and this was my last first day of cross country practice. For the moment, there was nothing I wanted more than to just enjoy this and not miss any of the nuances of the details. I knew that this last year of cross country was going to be special and I wanted to relish it all. I prepared all summer for these next coming months and I was ready to get it started. It had been a good summer of running extra miles in preparation for this and it was time to prove myself.
We all brought our running logs to turn in to Coach. I couldn't believe as I looked at them that summer was already over. My log was a sheet of notebook paper all folded up, the dates and miles behind them. I unfolded the sheet and looked over the list of dates. I wished I had been able to run just a few more times, a few more miles. I had put on 310 miles in the summer months but I was shooting for 350 or even 400. It shouldn't have been very hard, but I was still pretty close.
We continued to loosely stretch/horse around until Coach came back outside and snapped at us
The rumor at practice was that we were going to run the 2.2 and then do some 200 accelerations on the curve to the west of the school. That seemed to always be the routine on the first day, but when Coach came out he directed the girls and JV runners to start with him on the 2.2 and for teh 5 varsity boys to run the dump road and to keep it slow. He gave me his Ironman watch and told me to pace the group at 7 minute miles. That was always one thing I took great pride in; pace running. I was always able to hit the target pace during any practice. I was a rhythm breath runner and exhaled on my second left step. I could keep time and know how much to increase or decrease that rate to hit a certain time per mile. I had perfected that skill over all my miles that I put on in practices under Coach's watchful and helpful eye.
I don't remember much after that. The day out on the dump road was probably like any other 3 mile run I had done all summer. It's a long and flat hot run. But my mental note to myself to remember the details must've applied to only the preparation... which is ok... it was an awesome day and I remember it all.
And I still do.
I'm just a creative guy that's looking to throw all this spaghetti onto the wall and hope something sticks.