Chapter 19 ~ Lisa & Nicole Promise to Make the Marathon a Fun Run
Lisa and Nicole sat in the back seat of the family SUV as their dad and mom drove home. Their mom promised them the best pre-marathon meal ever prepared. Nicole asked Lisa all about the race at states. She wanted to know how she got to the dam first. What sprinting up Falcon’s Hill felt like. How she reached down and found an extra reserve of strength as she came close to the finish line. She had Lisa tell her the story three times. Each time Lisa asked Nicole about her season, Nicole said she wanted to hear more about Lisa’s season.
Lisa couldn’t take it much longer. “Come on Nicole, tell me all about your season. Did you like it? Do you like running in college? How is your coach? Is she as good as Coach Kappa? I think Coach Kappa is the absolute best.”
“It was a lot harder than I thought. First thing, college is so different from high school. The course work is harder. No one reminds me to go to class or study. I have lots of friends, but we’re all on our own. Most of us for the first time in our lives. It’s all up to me. It takes a lot of self discipline to follow through. The good thing, I think running cross-country helped a lot. It’s a lot like college, no asks you to train, especially in the off season. No one tells you to get up early to get your work out in. You know how it is. It’s all up to you. I think that is why all the cross-country runners did well in classes. I’m pretty close to a 4.0 in all my classes. I think it’s the discipline we learn from training that helped more than anything.”
“But how did you do on the cross country team?” asked Lisa.
“I did pretty well for a freshman. I ran third on the team. Maria Torres is our top runner. She got an invite to an Olympic training camp in Colorado Springs for the 5000 and 10000 meters. Running with her made me better. I like her a lot. Maybe this spring you can meet her. Coach said if I work hard maybe I’ll get an invite to Colorado Springs in another year. My times really improved over the season. I thought Coach Kappa worked us hard. It was easy compared to this level. Coach wants me to run the 5000 and 10000 meters in track. I’m excited about that.”
“I think you’ll be the number one runner next fall. Maria better watch out, you’ll zip right by her,” said Lisa.
Nicole touched Lisa’s arm, “I’m not competing with Maria. Coach taught us that the biggest competitor anyone has is the one we have inside us. She told us to focus on getter better and better and everything else takes care of itself.”
“I guess. The Stinson runner don’t think that way. I was happy I beat them,” said Lisa. She reached into her backpack and pulled out the Thanksgiving Marathon race packets. It wasn’t a big marathon as marathons go, race organizers expected about six hundred runners. Lisa hand a packet to Nicole and said, “Here’s the packet I got at All Sports. It’s got everything we need for tomorrow.”
The sisters opened their packets and the first thing they pulled out were their bib numbers. They had to pin them to the front of their race shirts. Lisa’s bib number was 215 and Nicole’s bib number was 216. On the back of the bib number was a small electronic timing chip. The chip digitally recorded their times at different points of the race and transmitted the to the race officials who posted the runners times at checkpoint online. Their parents could follow their progress with their smart phones and still wait at the finish line.
It was Lisa’s mom who broke up the marathon conversation going on in the back seat of the car. She said, “I don’t want you girls to race in the marathon. It’s not about time. It’s not about winning. You’ve both had full cross country season. I don’t want two sick daughters hanging around mopping. It’s a fun run, promise? If either one of you feels tired or out of it during the race, the both of you stop. No competition and no finishing without the other. Promise dad and me.”
Lisa and Nicole reached over the seat and grabbed hold of their mother’s hand, “Promise mom, we’ll finish together or we won’t finish at all.”
Lisa laughed, “Mom worries too much. I was running under five minute miles for cross country. When I won states, I averaged four minutes and forty seconds for the course. I bet we can do five thirty easy.”
Nicole laughed, “I’m not a math brain, but I know times. If we did that pace for a marathon we’d finish under two thirty. That would be pretty close to an age record if you did that. This is our first marathon. Most marathons have an age requirement and you have to be at least sixteen or eighteen. You’re lucky this marathon set the age requirement lower. They do that for a reason. Coach told me I’d know I ran a marathon when I finished. We’ll need to cut back the pace a lot. It’s a fun run like mom said.”
“That’s not fair. I’ll feel like a zombie if we go too slow. Can’t we try it at my pace and slow down if we get tired?” said Lisa.
What if we try to maintain a bit over seven minutes pace. We’ll be right around three hours,” countered Nicole.
“That’s like sleep walking. I can walk that fast. Honest. Can we try to go a little bit faster? Please?”
Nicole said, “It’s time to listen to mom and your big sister.”
Lisa pretended to pout, then smiled and the sisters fist bumped.
Wind and a Bobwhite
by Thomas Merton
Wind and a bobwhite
And the afternoon sun.
By ceasing to question the sun
I have become light,
Bird and wind.
My leaves sing.
I am earth, earth
All these lighted things
Grow from my heart.
A tall, spare pine
Stands like the initial of my first
Name when I had one.
When I had a spirit,
When I was on fire
When this valley was
Made out of fresh air
You spoke my name
In naming Your silence:
O sweet, irrational worship!
I am earth, earth
My heart’s love
Bursts with hay and flowers.
I am a lake of blue air
In which my own appointed place
Field and valley
I am earth, earth
Out of my grass heart
Rises the bobwhite.
Out of my nameless weeds
His foolish worship.
Chapter 18 ~Lisa is Psyched for the Marathon
As soon as Lisa had a chance to get to the team bus and her backpack she text Nicole.
I won. I won states. I can’t believe it. We won the state championship for the fifth time. We beat Stinson by ten points. Mia came in fourth. Marie ran seventh, Leah came in twelfth and Sara twentieth.
Within seconds Nicole texted back.
Wow. Congrats Lisa. I didn’t want to say anything, but I had a feeling you were going to win. Your times got better each week. Can’t wait to run with you next week. You made me proud.
Lisa was exhausted. It was a happy kind of exhaustion. She and her teammates were excited.
Coach Kappa stood up in front of the bus, and said, “I am so proud of you. You never quit. You fought hard against the toughest opponents we’ve ever faced. You earned this.”
Coach Kappa raised the state championship trophy over head. The runners gave a sustained cheer. “One more thing, some of you are planning to run in the Turkey Day marathon. Don’t turn it into a race. Enjoy the run. Enjoy everyone who runs with you. You worked hard this season. Our spring track seasons begins March 1. Between now and then only easy runs. One more item, lunch is on me.” The runners let out another cheer.
Lisa listened to Coach Kappa, maybe she’d take it easy this week since the season was over. She wanted to be ready for the Thanksgiving marathon on Saturday. Well, maybe she take a couple of long slow runs to keep her legs in shape.
When Coach Kappa sat down, Lisa pulled out her iPhone and texted Nicole.
What kind of workouts will you do this week?
Nicole’s text came within seconds.
Let’s take it easy. You pushed hard the last few weeks. We’re only running for fun. Don’t forget to pick up the registration packets at All Sports. We have to have our bib numbers before race day.
Will do 2morrow. There’s a trophy for the best sister team. Did you know that? I saw it on their website. Maybe we have a chance. What do you think?
Nicole texted back.
You up to it? We’ll have to push a bit harder this week. Don’t wear out.
Lisa thought Nicole was still trying to protect her.
I feel good. I will feel better after a good night’s sleep – what’s the plan for the week?
I’ll talk to coach. She’ll give us a plan. I’m going to brag about you to her. I’m so excited about your race. Love you. N.
When Lisa woke up, she checked her iPhone. There were no overnight texts from Nicole. Then she checked her email. A wave of excitement ran through her. Nicole e-mailed her coach’s plan for the week before a marathon. Lisa forwarded the email to her iPad. When she went to breakfast she already had the training plan memorized. She wished she could memorize her Spanish vocabulary as easily.
Lisa and her parents ate breakfast, then went to church at 10 a.m. She fidgited all during church. Her mother once whispered to her, “What’s wrong? Please sit still.”
The family went out to lunch after church services. During the meal, her mom said, “Something is wrong. First, you couldn’t sit still in church. Now, you’re not eating your lunch. You should be famished after yesterday’s race.”
Lisa looked up, “I’m sorry, Mom. I’m only excited Nicole is coming home this week and we get to run in the Marathon together. I haven’t seen her since we took her to the university. I’m going to pick up our bib numbers this afternoon. First I’m going on a bike ride over the twenty-six mile course. Get a to-go container and I’ll eat after my ride.”
Her dad spoke up, “Don’t you think you should rest, at least one day?”
“I promise, Dad it will be a fun ride. If I feel the least bit tired I’ll turn around and come home.”
Her mom said, “At least take a bite of your sandwich. It will make me feel better. And, I want you to take tomorrow off. You need a day of rest.”
Lisa smiled at her mom, picked up her turkey sandwich, and took a bite. While she was chewing her food her mind was thinking about the bike ride. It would be a switch from running. It would be her cross training day. She was going to make sure she kept taking plenty of fluids and eating the diet Nicole’s coach suggested for the week before a marathon. When she finished chewing her food, she said to her mom, One more week, that’s all mom.”
The only reason Lisa took Monday off was a promise she made to her mom. Even though she took the day off, she ran the course in her mind five different times. Once she was interrupted by her math teacher and asked if she was daydreaming.
As soon as school was over on Tuesday, Lisa came home, changed clothes, and headed out on a ten mile run. She was training at what she thought was a marathon race pace. Although she’d never run a marathon before, it couldn’t be much tougher than the fifteen mile runs she and Nicole ran in the summer. When she finished her workout she thought of the additional sixteen more miles to this race. I can do it. I can do it. Yes. I can do it she said to herself. Lisa fell asleep shortly after supper while doing her homework on her bed. Her dad covered her up with a blanket and let Lisa sleep with her clothes on.
Wednesday Lisa took a nice easy run. She ran through Nickerson’s Park and over to the river before coming home. She felt a little flat. Her legs felt heavy. She hoped her legs came back in time for the marathon. She remembered from the workouts Nicole sent that tomorrow’s workout were supposed to put life back into her legs. She finished her workout before her mom and dad came home from work. She was hungry. She walked into the kitchen and their was note for her from her mom telling her the training snacks were in the first cabinet and if she was still hungry to eat something a little more substantial like peanut butter on a toasted bagel. Lisa ignored her mom’s advice, opened the cabinet door, and got the pretzels and salted nuts to keep her sodium levels up. Nicole said that was important. She must have needed them because they tasted awesome.
Thursday was the final day of preparation for Saturday’s marathon. It was a combination low and high intensity workout. She knew it was a fartlek run where she ran slow for a time and then ran at a strong pace for one to two minutes. Nicole’s coach was right. Her legs felt great. She was ready. In her mind, Lisa was already holding the Best Sister’s Team trophy over her head. Tomorrow, Lisa and her dad and mom were going to pick up Nicole at college. They’d be home in time for dinner. Lisa didn’t know if she was more excited about the marathon or seeing Nicole. Or, having Nicole home for a whole week.
Trust life, and it will teach you, in joy and sorrow, all you need to know. ~ James A. Baldwin
To The Thawing Wind
by Robert Frost
Come with rain, O loud Southwester!
Bring the singer, bring the nester;
Give the buried flower a dream;
Make the settled snow-bank steam;
Find the brown beneath the white;
But whate’er you do to-night,
Bathe my window, make it flow,
Melt it as the ice will go;
Melt the glass and leave the sticks
Like a hermit’s crucifix;
Burst into my narrow stall;
Swing the picture on the wall;
Run the rattling pages o’er;
Scatter poems on the floor;
Turn the poet out of door.