A New Story, “Searching for Dad” begins TOMORROW

A New Story

Searching For Dad



A New Story, “Searching for Dad” begins in 2 Days

A New Story

Searching For Dad

Begins in 2 Days

Final Chapter ~ A Wild Marathon Finish

Chapter 22 ~ A Wild Marathon Finish

Lisa was experiencing a huge inner conflict. One half of her was pleading to keep up with the Stinson runner, the other half was adamantly telling her Nicole was right. They planned this run all semester. She raced ahead without looking back, then suddenly slowed down and turned toward Nicole.

When Nicole caught up to her, Lisa said, “Let’s go the First Aid station. You’re right. I lost it. We’ll cut back a bit. Okay?”

Nicole smiled at Lisa for the first time during the marathon, “Good for you Lisa. I know how you feel. I was that way when I was your age. You remember Jill Swoop?”

Lisa said, “She was three years ahead of you, right?”

Nicole said, “That’s right. We ran a 10K after the cross country season for fun. At the time, I was the number one runner on the team and Jill was number two. Any time we competed it was friendly. The 10K wasn’t supposed to be a race, only a workout and fun. I turned it into a race. I was going to show Jill I was still number one, and besides, I wanted to win the trophy that went to the best time in our age group. It turned out that even though I won, I lost.”

“Where’s the trophy? I know all of your trophies,” said Lisa.

“I threw it away before I got home. It meant nothing,” said Nicole

“That’s crazy. I’d never throw away a trophy. You won fair,” said Lisa.

“That’s just it, I won the 10K in the high school age group. Jill came in second. But I lost a friend. I could see how hurt she was when we finished. She never said a word to me after the race and she didn’t have anything to do me after that. It took a long time for me to realize what I did was wrong, I went back on my promise to my best friend. A few weeks ago I saw Jill at a race during the season. She would have been running with her team but she injured an ankle. I went up and apologized for what happened.”

“Even though it was five years ago, Nicole?”

“That’s what I thought at first. Jill hugged me and said thanks. Then she apologized for not being big enough to let it go. We’re friends again.”

At mile marker 18 Lisa and Nicole ran through a First Aid station. This time they took Gatorade and skipped the gel. They planned on one more First Aid station at the twenty-two mile marker.

They reached Valley View when Nicole looked at her Garmin. “Yikes Lisa. We’re on pace to break two fifty. We only have five miles to go. Keep it steady. We might win the sisters’ trophy.”

Lisa gave Nicole a quick smile. She smiled a bit broader as they took a turn down Shaw Street when she spotted the Stinson runner she’d been chasing slowing almost to a walk. A minute later Lisa and Nicole easily passed the Stinson runner. Lisa gave her a quick glance. “What’s wrong with her Nicole?”

Nicole said, “She’s bonking. She’s hitting the wall. My guess she was too intent in beating you and didn’t stop to hydrate or take gel. You know anyone like that?”

Lisa, “Yah. Don’t tell mom or dad.”

“Don’t worry. It’s not long now, we’re three miles from the finish.”

Lisa said, “Let’s pick it up, it’s only three miles.”

“You feel okay. You look a little clammy.”

“I feel fine, Nicole. My legs feel heavy, but that’s only a head thing. I’ll think them light.

The only hard part left is Mason’s Hill. We own it. Then down to the finish line.”

“We really need to slow down. You’re making me worry,” said Nicole, her voice filled with concern.

Lisa forced herself to pick up the pace. Nicole knew she couldn’t argue with her, she stayed beside her. It was useless to argue with Lisa being so close to the finish. Nicole was sure Lisa was paler now than she was two miles back. She saw red blotches growing on Lisa’s neck and face. “You okay Lisa? Let’s slow down. Please. You don’t look good.”

Lisa said, “There’s Mason’s Hill, we’re only three-quarters of a mile from the finish. We might win the sister’s trophy. I can make it. I can make. Talk me through it Nicole. My legs feel so heavy. Please talk me through it.”

Nicole, against her better judgment, said, “Let’s count strides. We’ll count them out loud up to twenty and start over again.” Nicole felt their pace slow considerably, yet, she dared not mention it to Lisa. “Let’s start counting together, “One, two, three, four, . . . five . . .” They reached twenty, seven times when Nicole lost count of how many times they reached twenty. She knew they made it to the top of Mason’s Hill. Three hundred yards away was the finish line in Nickerson Park. They started down the park side of the Mason Hill slope when Lisa stumbled and fell. She landed first on her right knee, her outstretched arms preventing her from hitting her face on the ground. Nicole ran to help her up. Lisa waved her off. She was determined to make it on her own. She rose and started running again. This time Lisa was limping, favoring her right knee, and weaving.
With a hundred yards to go, Lisa was drifting to her left then to her right. She was zigzagging more than running in a straight line. Lisa wanted to run faster. She wanted to run straight for the finish. Her legs refused to obey her mind. She stumbled, nearly falling, but held her balance. At fifty yards to go, she fell again, this time landing on both knees and hands. She rose to her knees and looked up at Nicole. Tears ran down Lisa’s face. Nicole bent over and helped her to an upright position.

She whispered to Lisa, “Like we promised mom, let’s finish together. Put your arm around my shoulder. That’s it.”

Lisa and Nicole jogged, more like a walk, slowly toward the finish line. The spectators at the finish line were cheering Lisa and Nicole as they crossed the finish line. The EMTs grabbed hold of Lisa as soon as she crossed the finish line and brought her to the first aid tent.

Later that day, Lisa and Nicole, sat with their mom and dad, at the dinner table. Their mom said, “You gave us a big scare, Lisa. Promise you won’t ever do that again.”
Lisa said, “We promised to finish as a team. Nicole made that happen. I learned some hard lessons that will stay with me. I didn’t like zoning out and coming so close to the edge. It was scary. What was our time?”

“We did pretty well, we finished in three hours and twenty-five seconds,” said Nicole.

Lisa’s dad rose from the table, “Excuse me a moment. By the way, your finish went viral on YouTube. I saw it this morning. You girls are celebrities.”

Lisa and Nicole grabbed hold of their iPhones, tapped the YouTube app, checked trending and saw a ninety second video someone posted of Lisa and Nicole, arm in arm coming across the finish line. It already had over fifty thousand hits.

A moment later, their dad walked into the dining room, “One of the race organizers ask me to hand this to you.” It was the Sisters’ trophy for the Thanksgiving marathon.

Chapter 18 ~ Lisa is Psyched for the Marathon

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.

Lisa texted.

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?

Nicole texted:

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.

Chapter 1 ~ It’s Tough Growing Up

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.