It begins in the morning as the coaches sit and determine the training load for each runner for the TUE interval workout. Volume and Intensity. Intensity and volume. The keys to success in the workout. Today, it is repeat miles, one of the few times we will touch the track during the season, a test of lactate tolerance. For me, it was caffeine tolerance I was working on, having my 5th cup in the past two hours. The weather looks good. A note is sent to the runners to make sure they eat a good lunch, and have a mid afternoon snack if needed….and to hydrate. I, on the other hand, am dehydrating, continuing to pound the coffee. It’s 10:00am and I’ll be visiting the men’s room for the fourth time. I think I need to drink more water.
The workout does not come soon enough for the coaches. After a short get-together in the locker room, the guys go out at 4:30 for their warmup run as Nate and I head to the track, clipboards in hand with colorful excel charts showing groups and times on them. As always, one runner will forget their watch for the intervals. Never fails. Who will it be today? Geez: what do you need for equipment for this sport? Shoes and watch. Pretty simple.
Upon arrival at the track after the warmup run, the groups do the dynamic routine prior to the intervals. The excitement is palpable and the guys begin talking it up.
Anthony McLean begins it “5:00 miles? Crap! Challenge me coach!” John Lennon not to be outdone follows with “I’m athlete of the week, boys. Don’t you forget it!”
The runners finish with strides as I overhear Josh Jensen, “This isn’t my only piercing, you know.” Aidan Healey nodded, also deep in reflection, “My spirit animal is the vulture.”
I had a good feeling for this one. Windy it was, but this group was ready for a big workout. Stew Bass agreed, “Really? These times are cool down pace. I’m no wuss!” I looked over to one of the groups deep in meditation after looking at the goal times. John Osler commented, “The only person I’m chasing is Booth’s ghost.” Sam Sokolsky nodded, “This is good training for me to become a Seahawks water boy.” Sean O’Reilly look up with a puzzled look as Ring of Fire played for a second time on the interval list, “I wish Coach would loop the pokemon theme for these intervals.”
The intervals began, and it was a beautiful display of sartorial spender. Coach Nate and I could barely record the times as we were overwhelmed with the moment. Mo Facke stepped up to the line after running his first mile in 3:57. He looked at me, “Coach, why are all these boys in shoes?” Off he went in his group of one. I knew he would be the big surprise at conference in three weeks. HIs second mile was 7:57. Still has a problem with pace, and tolerating shoes.
The group of Crail, McCarthy, Hansen, Schulte and Krewson were finally about to begin. Nate Crail was busy putting the CC flags into his hair for his signature do, “You guys go ahead without me, I’m having a bad hair day.” Oleg Yardas, waiting to finish his first recovery period, agreed, “It’s not how hard you run, it’s how good you look doing it.” Pieter Hansen, feeling unusually boisterous, claimed, “Not enough of a challenge, Coach. I’ll be doing the rest of the miles in lane 8.” Fellow sophomore GT looked on with admiration. Pieter asked him, “GT, what’s with the big shakespeare book?” GT replied, “You see this big Shakespeare book! I don’t carry it around for reading. I carry it for the extra load. Training affect, you know.” Pieter nodded with admiration, wondering what it would feel like having a big book stuffed down your shorts. Gray Krewson zipped up his parka, ready to begin, “Coach, when are you gonna buy us training parkas.” These guys! Always wanting new jerseys, new parkas. Spoiled! Matt McCarthy stood by himself repeating his mantra before the work began “Yeah, We’re happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time. It’s miserable and magical.” I got it. Young Jackson had had enough as he ran off in the lead. “These guys are sick, Coach.” The others followed suit.
I looked over at Chris Brunet, hands on knees and breathing heavily after his first mile, I’m good coach, except I think I just coughed up a lung.” Mully was walking away from the finish line as I yelled, “where you going?” “Cross training coach, this workout is for weenies.”
John Gallagher ran up after coming from a late lab, ‘Hello everybody! How is your day going”! He didn’t know what he was in for. Get ready to suffer, Johnny! Phillip Kane, who had been waiting patiently for John to arrive, was now itching to run. “Let’s go, John! This workout won’t kill me. I’m gonna kill it first!”
Alec Monovich jogged away from the track to cross train. “Where’s Murphy?” Looking to my right was Matt Murphy, also ready to cross train. He was asking the others, “Where’s Mono?”
Kevin Anderson was the last to leave for the bike, letting the guys know a truth, “You just wait for track season. I’m gonna make you guys puke!” Coach Nate nodded in agreement, “Us middle distance boys don’t get no respect in this sport.” Matt Phipps, the racer who always is there on Saturday, was in the midst of another tough workout, “Coach, taking iron before the workout isn’t working.”
So it went for another interval workout at the track. Music blaring from Will’s world-class list, not a cloud in the sky, and a gentle breeze. And some of the things these guys say! What a show! Life doesn’t get any better than this.
Well, except for race days!
O.K., maybe they didn’t say those things, but it would be funny if they did! They did work really hard, and ran really fast!