Friday, December 31, 2010

Topping Terrapin

LCA runners atop Terrapin Mountain

After my first season as a high school head cross country coach, my finger felt the beat of adventure running through my runners' veins. They got used to following me anywhere and everywhere on local trails, putting in miles on our distance days. Sarah even decided she never wanted to run a 5K again. She named herself "UltraGirl", helped me sweep a 100-miler, and accompanied me on a 20-mile training run a few weeks back. But for now, my most serious runners transitioned to the indoor track season. I came along as their coach.

For distance runners, "indoor track" is an oxymoron. Seldom do we stay indoors. Rather, it's out into the windy, cold days of winter. While our speedy counterparts come toting shorts and t-shirts to the temperature-controlled track, my kids show up with tights, hats and gloves, and jackets. It's up the mountain, around campus, through the fields. Our faces go numb, lips unable to form intelligible words. Eyes water, fingers go cold. We slip and slide on snowy trails, grabby trees to stay upright on tight turns. Our return trip to the track office is filled with musings about hot chocolate and warm showers.

Of course, we pay our dues with speed work on the track once or twice a week. But too much track work is punishing pounding for the necessary mileage. Sometimes we get inventive. After working hard on the track Monday, putting in a two-hour trail run on Tuesday, we did hills on Wednesday. Never mind that we got to the bottom via sleds. Our workout was climbing back to the peak to go again...and again...and again.

When I suggested we go run a challenging ten-mile loop in the mountains, they jumped at the chance. A promise of a free lunch didn't hurt either. Attempts to recruit sprinters to join us failed miserably. We could only recruit a decathlete, polevaulter, and the head coach. Nevertheless, I distributed every hydration pack and bottle I had before we headed to the start. As anticipated, there was snow. What was not anticipate was how much snow.

Abby Quigg follows Trey Fisher through Fat Man's Misery
By the time we bagged Terrapin Mountain's summit, we were tired; tired of stomping through drifts that swallowed my leg knee-deep. The trip down was more of the same. Run, run, run, splat. Face plants were frequent when the snow refused to release a leg. Even the squeeze through Fat Man's Misery was met not with angst but with excited anticipation. Never once was there a complaint. Never once a whine. Just endless chatter and laughter; resounding, raucous laughter watching most of the group slip, slide, or roll down the final steep incline.

I loved this run. I love these kids. I love it that they are embracing the challenges and accepting these activities as "normal."

I love them being this gullible.

4 comments:

Rick Gray said...

Ah, to be young again. I can just hear them laughing and enjoying themselves. To see their eyes as they look down into Fat Man's Misery. That would have been priceless. I know how I looked down into Fat Man's Misery my first time through and I had only mud to contend with. Glad to hear Sarah is continuing to be "UltraGirl". Maybe she will come out to play at Terrapin as she will probably be at the state meet during Holiday Lake. As your kids continue to follow you on these adventures, I am sure they are beginning to look at normal in a whole new light. Happy New Year!

Rebekah Trittipoe said...

Happy New Year to you as well. And yes, they are thinking differently and drinking the Kool-aid, if you know what I mean. :)

Sophie Speidel said...

I love THIS and the fact that they have such an adventurous and supportive coach! Woop! We did the family hike up to Spy Rock today---about 3-4 inches in the deepest places, but oh-so-fun on the descent and I had the same thrill of watching my kids love what I love (even when they were whining about being wet and cold at the end).

Good for you, coach! You are making such a difference :-)

Rebekah Trittipoe said...

Thank, Sophie. I was actually just going to FB you to see how your outing went. Glad you had a good time.

Some of the "Kingdom" got together to do a run, 10 of it the same as where I took the kids on TH. There was a lot less snow but what was there was like running on an oil slick. Made descending Terrapin interesting. I felt like a wus. But at least it gave Jenny and me more time to yap. Good times!

And those kids...they are beginning to define "normal" much differently. It's so much fun to see the transformation!

Hope to see ya soon. Happy New year!