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.
Love To Run: A Story of Two Sisters
Chapter 1 ~ It’s Tough Growing Up
Nicole and Lisa Denner were at the tail end of an easy seven mile run along the Drowning River trail. The hot summer day and coolness of the river were too inviting to finish the last mile of the workout, without a break. They hardly spoke during run. Nicole. the older sister, knew something was bothering Lisa. They were close, best friends and sisters rolled into one. Nicole had an idea what was bothering Lisa, but she wanted to hear it from her.
The river trail began at Lincoln Park and headed three miles south along the east side of the river, crossed over the river on Mason Street and came back on the west side of the river to Lincoln Park. The girls were sitting on the grass under a giant oak on bank of Drowning River just off the trail. Their backs were against the enormous tree trunk. The temperature hovered near ninety-five, the sun burned bright in a cloudless blue sky. If there was a breeze blowing, the leaves in the oak tree didn’t feel it. Nicole picked up a rock and tossed it in the river. Lisa did the same. Nicole, four years older than Lisa, was Lisa’s hero. Everything Nicole did, Lisa wanted to do. It was the same in their taste in music, iPhone apps, movies, and running gear. Today, both girls wore similar blue running shorts with a gold stripe down the sides and blue and gold running tops. Nicole was Lisa’s big sister, friend, and hero. Given a six inch difference in height, Lisa literally looked up to Nicole. Nicole’s friends often chided her and asked how mini me was doing. Nicole laughed it off, she and Lisa always had a tight bond.
Nicole turned her head toward Lisa, “Something bothering you?”
“Nope,” said Lisa tossing another rock into the river.
“You sure? I think I know what’s bothering you, but I wanted to hear it from you. Come one, we’re best friends, You won’t hurt my feelings,” encouraged Nicole.
Nicole knew she was headed off to college on a cross-country scholarship in a few weeks. She’d be living away from home for the first time.
Lisa turned toward Nicole, “It’s hurts my head to think about it.”
“What hurts your head, Lisa?”
“You know, Nicole. Your leaving home. What am I going to do without you? You’re everything I want to be. My stomach’s hurting talking about it. Can we drop it?”
Lisa could talk to Nicole and know Nicole would give her good advice, and, she could trust her. She could tell Nicole things she wouldn’t tell their mom or dad. They’d talk about stuff girls talk about. What they mostly talked about was running. If running was important to Nicole, it was important to Lisa.
Nicole was the top runner on the girl’s high school cross country team since she was a sophomore. She had a half dozen scholarship offers but wanted to stay in state to be closer to her family. Nicole tossed another rock into the river, “I’ll be leaving for college in three weeks Lisa, this summer is going faster than any summer ever.”
Lisa tossed a rock close to where Nicole’s landed, “Do you have to leave so early? Classes don’t start till the end of August, right, Nicole?”
Nicole used a stick to unearth another rock, “It’s my cross-country scholarship. There is a preseason camp, everybody who wants to be on the team has to show up. I’m nervous about how I’ll do. They have a lot of great runners.”
“You won state last year. You came in second in the 5000 meters this spring. You’ll probably be the best runner they have,” Lisa said using a stick to dig at a rock, then tossing the loosened rock into the river.
“We’ve been running together all summer. You’re pretty good yourself, Lisa. You’ll be one of the top five on the high school team if you keep working hard,” Nicole tossed a rock into the center of the ripples caused by Lisa’s rock.
Lisa tossed another rock into the river, “I was born one year too late for us to run together in high school. I wish we could run together this fall. Can we text and connect on FaceTime?”
“Of course, Lisa, we’ll always stay connected,” said Nicole.
Nicole stood up and stretched, grabbed hold of a low hanging limb, curled her legs, and swung from it. Lisa got up off the ground jumped to grab hold of the limb and swing next to Nicole.
“You do everything I do, don’t you?” said Nicole.
“Not everything Nicole. I can’t go to camp with you. I can’t take classes at the university. I can’t drive a car. I have to take a stride and a half to your one when we run. Sometimes, I don’t think it’s fair,” said Lisa.
Nicole turned her head toward Lisa, “I got an idea. We’ll both be running this fall and in great shape by the end of the cross-country season. The Thanksgiving marathon is coming up on Saturday before Thanksgiving. We can run together in it. We’ll make it a fun run.”
Lisa gave a weak smile and said, “I’ve done 10K’s but never a marathon. You haven’t done one either. Last summer you ran twenty miles when you went to camp. I remember you telling me about it.” Lisa dropped from the limb at the same time as her big sister let go and dropped to the ground.
Nicole said, “The twenty miles was at an easy pace. We ran as a group at running camp. We were supposed to stay together. Right now, I know you could run twenty miles at the same pace. I’ll talk to my coach about the marathon when I go to camp. If she says it’s doable and gives me a training schedule that works with the cross-country season I’ll email it to you. We can text each other all during fall on how we’re doing. Fist bump?”
The sisters fist bumped then ran the final mile leading from Drowning River toward home. Lisa felt a little better as she and Nicole headed toward home. She’d be running with Nicole in the Thanksgiving Marathon. It was better than nothing. They’d text each other about the training and about the cross-country season. Still, Lisa knew it wasn’t the same.
There’s a reason you’re here. Use it to build others. Use it to inspire others. Use it to show others it can be done. You’re life is important to all of us. Use it to motivate us. Use it to bring joy to us. Use it to make us laugh. Use it shine the light on our darkness. Yes, there is a reason you’re here.