Love to Run
Chapter 15 ~ Lisa Feels Pressure to Do Well
As soon as Lisa boarded, the bus, she took out her iPhone. She planned to text Nicole, then her parents. She started typing in her text, when Coach Kappa stood up in the front of the bus.
“Listen up. Congratulations on winning the regionals. It was a good win, but it was close, too close. We beat Stinson by four points. A win is a win. We’ll have to do better if we’re going to repeat at states. Rest up tonight and tomorrow. We’re going to work hard Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Then, we’ll taper down on Thursday and a rest day Friday. I know you’ll run hard, you always do and I’m proud of you. But, this time, you’ll have to run smart. Lisa got boxed in by the Stinson runners.”
“It wasn’t fair, Coach,” said Marie.
“It’s all part of racing strategy, I agree it wasn’t fair to do it on purpose, but they got away with it. We don’t run like that and we never will. The thing to remember, when things like that happen, be smart, don’t foul, don’t get disqualified and figure out, like Lisa did, how to outsmart them. Thank you for giving it you’ve got. I’m proud of you.”
Coach Kappa sat down in the seat behind the bus driver. The bus driver closed the bus door, and asked for a show of hands of who was buckled. All the girls raised their hands. A moment later, the bus was headed back to Nickerson.
Lisa was still holding her iPhone. She completed her text message to Nicole.
Coach Kappa’s pushing hard for states. We barely won the regionals. I got boxed in by runners from Stinson. Coach protested – the judges didn’t do anything. I finished fourth. I could have finished second to Mia if I didn’t get boxed in.
Lisa waited for Nicole’s response. It wasn’t long.
Same thing happened to me Lisa the first time I ran regionals. Glad you kept your cool. It’s the only way. Here’s hoping you get a low number at states. Go out fast. How many Jaguars qualified?
10 of 15. We got our work cut for us if we’re to win.
Lisa watched the bubbles in the lower corner.
It’s only the first 5 team members that count. I’m picking you to finish in the top three at states.
Lisa felt her heart sounded like a heavy bass beat that wouldn’t quit pounding. Uh oh, she thought stress time. I have to be the third best runner at states to make Nicole proud. I’ve got to run better than I did today. I’ve got to prove to Nicole I can do it.
She text Nicole back.
Lisa then texted her mom and dad. They both texted back congratulations and said they’d pick her up at the high school and go out for pizza. When Lisa and her parents came home, the first thing she did was to place the number 3 in the blue and gold colors of the Jaguars on the refrigerator door, inside the refrigerator, on the ceiling above her bed, on the front and back to the door of her room, and even on the bathroom mirror.
The following Monday, Coach Kappa knew her runners were ready. The training schedule this week wasn’t about getting them in better physical shape, it was preparing them mentally and building their confidence. Monday’s workout was an easy five mile run. Coach gave them the pace she wanted them to maintain. She called out the times every half mile making sure the runners kept it at an easy pace. When the runners returned to the Nickerson High School athletic fields, Coach Kappa had them run six one-hundred meters strides. On Tuesday, Coach Kappa had the runners warm up with an easy two mile run followed by running the Nickerson course at race pace. Mia, Marie, and Lisa were bunched together at the finish in that order. On Wednesday, it was an easy five mile day. And, Friday was the off day.
Late Friday afternoon, Lisa and her dad were sitting in the living room. Her mom was making dinner. Her dad said, “How are you feeling Lisa? Are you ready for tomorrow?”
“Okay, I guess,” said Lisa looking at her iPad.
“You’re really focused. Wherever you finish, it’s okay. Mom and I know you’ll give it your best. That’s all anybody can do,” Lisa’s dad rubbed her shoulder.
Lisa pointed to the block three hanging with scotch tape from the bottom of a framed photo on the wall of Nicole and she standing near the edge of northern rim to the Grand Canyon. It was taken on the family vacation two years ago. She said, “That’s my goal, dad.”
“It’s a good goal. Remember, it’s only a goal. You might exceed it. You might not reach it. Whatever the outcome, you’ll feel good if you knew you gave it your best. That’s all anyone can ask of you.”
“Thanks, Dad,” said Lisa. Then she thought, Nicole expects me to be number three in the states.
Lisa and her dad heard her mom call, “Dinner’s on. Coach Kappa’s special menu for our runner.”
Lisa and her dad walked to the dining room, Lisa’s dad patted Lisa on the back, “It’s a race. You’ve trained hard. Give it your best. Nicole will be proud of you no matter where you finish.”
Lisa thought, only if I finish third.