Fear Not, Dear Friends, But Freely Live Your Days – Poem by Robert Louis Stevenson


Fear not, dear friend, but freely live your days
Though lesser lives should suffer. Such am I,
A lesser life, that what is his of sky
Gladly would give for you, and what of praise.
Step, without trouble, down the sunlit ways.
We that have touched your raiment, are made whole
From all the selfish cankers of man’s soul,
p. 41And we would see you happy, dear, or die.
Therefore be brave, and therefore, dear, be free;
Try all things resolutely, till the best,
Out of all lesser betters, you shall find;
And we, who have learned greatness from you, we,
Your lovers, with a still, contented mind,
See you well anchored in some port of rest.

Robert Louis Stevenson


Today’s Quote on Succeeding

To succeed, you must have tremendous perseverance, tremendous will. “I will drink the ocean”, says the persevering soul; “at my will mountains will crumble up”. Have that sort of energy, that sort of will; work hard, and you will reach the goal. ~ Swami Vivekananda

Quote ~ Paulo Coelho “Don’t Give Up”


Don’t give up. Normally it is the last key on the ring which opens the door.

Paulo Coelho

Good Timber by Douglas Malloch

Good Timber

The tree that never had to fight
For sun and sky and air and light,
But stood out in the open plain
And always got its share of rain,
Never became a forest king
But lived and died a scrubby thing.

The man who never had to toil
To gain and farm his patch of soil,
Who never had to win his share
Of sun and sky and light and air,
Never became a manly man
But lived and died as he began.

Good timber does not grow with ease,
The stronger wind, the stronger trees,
The further sky, the greater length,
The more the storm, the more the strength.
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In trees and men good timbers grow.

Where thickest lies the forest growth
We find the patriarchs of both.
And they hold counsel with the stars
Whose broken branches show the scars
Of many winds and much of strife.
This is the common law of life.

by Douglas Malloch


It Couldn’t Be Done ~ Poem by Edgar Guest

It Couldn’t Be Done

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done
But he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it!

Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
At least no one ever has done it;”
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat
And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure,
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing
That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.

Today’s Quote by James Baldwin

Trust life, and it will teach you, in joy and sorrow, all you need to know. ~ James A. Baldwin

Chapter 17 – The State Cross-Country Championships

Chapter 17 – Lisa Carries the Hopes of Her Team into the State Tournament
Lisa and her teammates were wearing the blue and gold colors of the Jaguars. She and the runners near her ignored the wind chill and each held an intense look top with a healthy heaping of pre race jitters. Lisa looked around at the first three rows and there was no one else near her sharing the Pirate’s colors. She looked at the runners to her right and then to her left. She saw two Stinson runners’ numbers fourteen and fifteen looking toward her and talking. She recognized them from the narrow path in the wooded area. They were part of the group that blocked the path.

One of the Stinson runners walked toward Lisa. She stopped and said in a soft voice, “You won’t get past us this time, shorty. We’ll own the dam.” Then she walked back to her starting place in the first row.

Lisa’s eyes followed the Stinson runner back to her place on the front row. Focus, focus, give it all you’ve got and then some, she told herself. Lisa turned her attention to the dam. It was a bit over a quarter mile away. She couldn’t let the Stinson runners beat her to the dam, if she did, the Jaguars wouldn’t stand a chance of repeating.

She heard the starter, “Runners, I will give one command, ‘On your marks.” After I give the command, I will sound the air horn. The sound of the air horn will mark the start of the race. A word of caution. Assistant starters are posted for the first one hundred yards. If any runner is knocked down within the first hundred yards I will sound the air horn. That will be the recall signal. You will return to your places and we will repeat the start. Be courteous to your fellow runners. Do your best. On Your Marks.”

The air horn blasted.

Lisa shot out from her starting position in the front row. Lisa and seven other runners were quickly out in front of the swarming hoard of runners. Two of the seven runners in the lead pack were from Stinson. One hundred and fifty yards into the race, Lisa was running neck and neck with the two Stinson runners and a runner from Westover High School. The four pressed forward, trying to reach the narrow pathway across the dam first. With twenty yards to go to the dam, the Westover runner dropped back, leaving Lisa and the two Stinson runners to battle it out for the lead.

Lisa recalled Nicole’s words never look at your competitors, always run your race. She fought the temptation to check out the Stinson runners. She imagined a finished line stretched across the beginning of the narrow footpath across the dam. She surprised the two Stinson runners when she sprinted as if she were heading for the finish line. Lisa hadn’t planned this move, she didn’t even think about it. Her body seemed to be operating on a whole new level, acting instinctively. She left the two Stinson runners behind. Lisa felt a sense of triumph when she was the first runner to reach the dam.

Lisa crossed the dam paying attention to Coach Kappa’s warning that a quick left in the course came up right after the dam. She followed the chalk line and took the left and started on the dirt road around the reservoir. She rounded the far end of the reservoir and ran down the backside, she knew Falcon’s Hill was waiting for her. She wasn’t frightened of Falcon’s Hill, she trained with Nicole and Mia on Mason’s Hill, she was ready. She heard the Stinson runners somewhere behind her. Don’t look back. Don’t look back, you’ll only encourage them.

She recalled Nicole telling her how she could break the spirit of other runners in a race by sprinting up the hills. When Lisa reached Falcon’s Hill, she started sprinting. She didn’t know where she was getting her strength. Falcon’s Hill was a tortuous three-hundred yard hard climb averaging a nine percent gradient. Once at the summit, Falcon’s Hill turned into a steep drop leading to a rolling country road.
When Lisa came off of Falcon’s Hill, she knew she had broken contact with the closest runners. She had no idea how far she was in front. She didn’t think about it. She was in a running groove. Her arms and legs were flowing smoothly, to the casual observer they would thought she was grace in motion, running fast but appearing as if she were running effortlessly. The course now took her through the rolling hills. She dared not slow down. After she came out of the rolling hills and back into the recreational area, she spotted Jane and Debra standing out int he roadway waving frantically her. The were screaming something, she couldn’t tell what they were saying.

As she passed Jane and Debra, Jane hollered, sprint, sprint, you’ve got a twenty-yard lead. Lisa’s adrenaline shot up. She increased her pace to just shy of an all out sprint. As she turned down the hill she saw a crowd of spectators lining the roadway to the finish line.

She heard lots of hollering and screaming, she didn’t know if it was for her or for the people behind her. Then, she spotted her dad and mom.

“Go Lisa, go, it’s not far. Go,” Her dad yelled. Her hollered, “You’re doing great. Almost home.”

For the first time since she sprinted up Falcon’s Hill, Lisa heard footsteps. She couldn’t tell if it was one runner or more than one who was closing in on her.

Reach down Lisa. Reach down. Dig deeper she repeated to her self. Lisa needed to discover an inner reserve of energy within that she hadn’t previously tapped into. Her mind flashed to Nicole running the same course and she saw Nicole running the last stretch. It was a good image for her. She knew other runners had closed the lead she built. She felt their presence just off her back.

Now, now, now, she screamed to herself. Her legs got the message. Lisa pumped her arms, exaggerated her stride and was propelling herself toward the finish line. The crowd around the finish line was shouting. She couldn’t hear what they were saying, she knew it was loud. She could see Coach Kappa waiting just beyond the finish line. Seconds later, Lisa burst across the finish line two strides ahead of the top Stinson runner.

Coach Kappa caught her as she was collapsing to the ground. Lisa was sucking in great gulps of air. She couldn’t move.

Coach Kappa held on to her, “You’re okay. Keep taking deep breaths. You’ll recover in no time.

Lisa’s stomach ached. Her legs felt like rubber bands. She was holding onto Coach Kappa’s arm as if it were a life preserver and she was floundering in the ocean.

“You did good Lisa. You did really good. You won. You won states. You are the first freshman to ever win states,” Coach Kappa said while walking Lisa away from the finish line.

Lisa looked up at Coach Kappa, “I won?”

Coach Kappa, “You won. Let’s go see how the rest of the team finishes.”

Today’s Quote on Suffering by Gibran

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” ~ Khalil Gibran

“Don’t Hold Back” Chapter 14

Love to Run

Chapter 14 ~ Don’t Hold Back

The regional cross-country race was held this year at Westover a one hour ride from Claymont. Lisa sat with Mia across from Marie and Leah on the bus ride. They spoke of their race strategy, the talked about their teachers, and they talked about the Stinson runners.

When they arrived at the Westover course, it was a typical November day, cold, the temperature was forty-one degrees with a wind chill of twenty-five degrees caused by the brisk breeze out of the Northwest. The runners all wore their blue and gold sweatsuits. When Lisa stepped off the bus, she looked around, the leaves were all off the trees, and there were at least six teams warming up. The Stinson team was stretching and their coach looked over toward the Jaguars and said something to her team. The Stinson team stopped stretching and stood and watched the Jaguars walk across the parking lot to a large field where the race was scheduled to start. Lisa felt the cold wind, gave an involuntary shiver, and pulled her hood over her head.

Once on the field, the Jaguars began their warmup routine. Coach Kappa walked among the runners. She was making sure they stretched properly. She was taking no chances any of the Jaguars would pull a hamstring or quad that might keep them out of the states. The runners’ position for the regionals was determined by lottery. The start for regionals was different than the start for the League championship. All the runners were placed in corral. There were 20 runners across each line in the corral. Lisa drew number 114. That meant she’d be in the sixth row. None of her Jaguar teammates drew a starting place in the first four rows.

Two minutes before the starter called the runners to enter the corral, Coach Kappa called the team together. Coach Kappa said, “Listen up, we didn’t get the draw we wanted. We got what we got and you’ll all do great. Watch out at the start. Regardless of the cautions from the starter, there will be pushing and shoving. Don’t you do it. Someone shoves you, let your feet do the talking when you beat them to the finish line. We have two goals today. One, we want to win the regionals. And, two, I want you all to qualify for states. Don’t hold back. You have two races left. Lisa, can I share your mantra with the team?”
Lisa nodded yes.

Coach Kappa said, “Thank you. Lisa told me this is the mantra she says to herself during each race, use it today, “Give it all you’ve got.” Let’s go team.”

The Jaguar girls cheered and headed for the corral to line up. Once the starter sounded the horn to begin the race it course took the runners across a wide field to a road in the park, it continued along the road for a hundred yards before entering a wooded area. The path through the wooded area was wide enough for four people. If you didn’t get to the woods early, a runner could be blocked out by the crowd. Lisa stood next to runne rs from Claymont and Edgewater. She saw four Stinson runners in the first three rows. Lisa closed her eyes for a moment to get focused. She concentrated on sprinting the first six hundred yards. She was ready for the race.

The starter’s air horn went off, the runners looked like a swarm of birds flying out of the corral and sprinting across the field to the road. There was bumping, shoving, and a few elbows tossed here and there. Lisa caught an elbow on her arm, it hurt for a moment, but she kept her focus on breaking through the large pack. Fortunately, no one was knocked down at the start.

Fifty yards from the tree line Lisa spotted Mia and Marie leading the pack. Lisa was twenty yards behind the leaders. Fifteen runners separated her from Mia and Marie. She passed five runners before she entered the woods. When she entered the woods, she lost sight of Mia and Marie who separated themselves from the pack. A group of four Stinson runners were in front of her, running four abreast blocking blocking any chance Lisa had to pass and gain ground on Mia and Marie.

“Open up, I want to pass,” Lisa hollered to the Stinson runners.

The Stinson runners acted as if they didn’t hear her. Lisa hollered again. Again, the Stinson runners ignored her. Lisa settled into a pace three steps behind the Stinson runners hoping she might get a chance to break through. She remember that Nicole told her about a time when the same thing happened to her. She said if it ever happened, don’t lose control, be patient, they’ll slip up. Be ready to scoot through fast before they react. Lisa remembered Nicole’s advice and keeping her cool and waiting for her chance.

She hoped it would come soon.

Nicole saw one of the runners look over her should and check on her. The Stinson runner turned back and said something to the other Stinson runners. Lisa quietly moved closer. She saw a turn to the left coming up. She thought this might be her chance. The Stinson runner on the far right, dropped back a half of a stride as they entered the turn leaving a small opening. Lisa sprinted into the small opening between the two Stinson runners, passing them before they could react. When the Stinson runners reacted and tried to catch her, it was too late. Their efforts were in vain.

Lisa knew she had to make up time. The Stinson runners caused her to throw out her race strategy. She picked up her pace, running faster than she ever had during the last mile and a quarter of her previous races. At the two mile mark she still didn’t see Mia or Marie. Lisa kept chanting to herself, ‘Give it all you’ve got. Give it all you’ve got. Come on, you can do this. Give it all you’ve got. When she was within the final six hundred yards,

She spotted Mia and Marie fifty yards ahead. There were three other runners trailing them. She heard Coach Kappa holler, “Come on Lisa sprint. Sprint. Push it Lisa. You can catch them.”

Lisa closed her eyes for a brief second and willed her legs to give more. She pumped her arms and lengthened her stride. at the quarter mile mark she passed a runner from Westlake. With two-twenty yards she caught the number one Stinson runner. They matched stride for stride.

The Stinson runner glanced to her left at Lisa and said, “You’ll never beat me, shrimp.”
The Stinson runner pulled a half stride ahead. Lisa said to herself, ‘Don’t hold anything back. Lay it on the line. Give it all you’ve got. You’ve got this.”

She caught the Stinson runner with fifty yards to go. The crowd at the finish line was screaming. It sounded like a huge roar to Lisa. She had no idea who they were cheering. In a sudden burst, Lisa edged a half stride ahead of the Stinson runner crossing the finish line and collapsing into into the waiting arms of Mia and Marie who held her up.

“You finished fourth Lisa. Fourth! Can you believe it? You beat the number one Stinson runner,” Mia said as she and Marie walked Lisa until Lisa’s regained her strength. The girls went back and waited near the finish line for the next two Jaguars to cross the finish line. They counted off finishers. Leah and Sara came through at fifteen and seventeen. The Jaguars’ first five runners would have the lowest team score assuring them of their fifth consecutive regional cross-country team victory.

On the ride home, Coach Kappa congratulated the team on their victory at the regionals and edging out their rivals from Stinson. She told the runners to take Sunday off and be ready to prepare for states. The Jaguars qualified ten runners for the state championship. Lisa silently vowed she wouldn’t get boxed in at states.