Showing posts from September, 2011

Refuse to lose

Excerpt from the coming title: Best Season Yet: 12 Weeks to Train             It was a warm spring day in 1976 when David DeLancey stepped onto the tennis court for the third set of a college match. DeLancey, highly recruited to play soccer for Cedarville College in 1972, was at that time unknown for his tennis skills. Still, as a walk-on, he immediately won the #1 position on the team. Against all odds, he accrued a perfect record of 91 wins and zero loses. But on this particular day in May, it looked like his stellar streak was about to be undone.            His opponent from Ohio Northern University was proving problematic for DeLancey with heavy topspin on both his forehand and backhand. They split the first two sets. In the third and final set, hope was fading fast when the Cedarville player went down five games to nil. Just four points stood between an upset of gigantic proportions. David DeLancey (2009)              DeLancey, silently suffering his senior year from

My confession

I'm not sure I could have expected more. I had not trained with an ultra in mind. So, it's a good thing I didn't run one. I ran a stink'n ten mile road race instead. Too bad I didn't train for that one either. So, why did I even run? Well, a bunch of my cross country kids signed up and my assistant coach was probably going to be in the top ten overall out of 1000+ runners. How could I not? "Oh, ten miles is such a short race for you," everyone says. Malarkey. I needed to adjust my attitude before, during, and now after I ran. I was not looking forward to the effort it would take on that hilly course. I don't really like roads. In fact, I really, really don't like roads-especially when so many people are watching. And, anyone who knows I'm an ultrarunner expects me to be able to pull off the race in grand style. Sure, ten miles is nothing. Nothing, that is, unless you are trying to go fast. Then it's just like getting beat by a wet noodl

When things go wrong

It was a great day for racing. With 35 teams from all over the state, the competition was tough. We knew that going in. But we also knew that Trey Fisher was running hot. He had bagged two impressive wins in a row and we couldn't help but work toward another. Trey was primed and ready to enter the fray. And he did. Starting off toward the back of the top 20, he had some work to do. When the first major hill loomed ahead, he systematically worked his way through the crowd, joining the compact front group of three by the time he topped out. Carefully guarding his line on the tight corners, Trey ran wisely across the flat and surged on the downhill. Soon, he overtook the duo in front and carried the lead through the middle mile. My own heart pounded with excitement as I raced between vantage points on the course to view his form floating across the ground, wind in his hair. But the second and third runners were not content to trail behind. The battle ensued as they overtook my har


A couple of my runners are learning some important life lessons. Lessons about expectation, disappointment, and injury. Stephen, a freshman new to the school, had been running strong enough to claim a top seven varsity spot. Knee pain he could no longer bear led him to a doctor and his order to cease and desist for three weeks. His training came to a screeching halt. Morgan, another new freshman, came full of promise. She, too, ran her way onto the varsity squad. But an awkward gait precipitated by some strange anatomy and muscle imbalances has handed her a decree of no running for six weeks. I feel their pain. I've been there. In the first five years of ultrarunning, I suffered nine metatarsal fractures, medial malleolus and femoral neck fractures, a torn tibial aponeuroses, surgery on both feet and an ankle including seven incisions and eight screws, along with multiple soft tissue injuries. Like a tadpole, into the pool I went, deep water running sometimes for three hour

How do I know when I'm finished?

"Coach, coach," he gushed excitedly. It was his first race ever and he had a bazillion questions. Standing near our team's starting box just moments away from the gun, this gangly youngster was a jumbled up mixture of nervous energy and raw enthusiasm. "Coach...Uh, what number am I and how do I know when I'm finished?" Really? Did I just hear that right? I tried not to laugh but the corners of my mouth betrayed me. Surely, there must be some hidden meaning behind the questions that I just didn't get. But, since I am not a 6th grade boy and have no earthly idea how their minds work, I decided to answer it in the only way I knew. "Well, your number is pinned to your shirt so don't worry about that." Then, pointing to the fifteen foot tall inflatable finish arch across the way, I continued. "Just keep running until you get to that thing. Look up. It says 'Finish' in big, white letters. When you pass under it, that's when

First XC Meet of the Season

Coaching can be serious business It started off well. It ended well. Whew. The first meet of the year can be scary. Though I carry a full contingent of about four dozen kids, many are new to the sport as well as the team. The grade level ranges from 6th  to seniors, adding the extra challenge of keeping workouts and expectations appropriate for the age and talent of each runner. Some of the runners are veterans, focused in their roles as outstanding students and athletes. Others. . .well, there appears to be a social aspect and sense of team that draws them in. And, that's okay. The Eagle Invitational, held Sept 3 in the hills outside the hamlet of Rocky Mount, Virgina, is a small, yet challenging meet. Hosted by Franklin County High School, which boasts a roster of nearly 65 kids, this school never fails to draw top runners to the line. This year was no different. Middle Schoolers take to the line The middle schoolers were sent out on their 3K run. I had but 3 girls