2021 Monadnock Team Blog #2

By Anna Bentley

Week 9: Time Waits For No One

Monday started out with such hope and promise, yet ended in a painful accident. The air was innocent with an aspiration for a full training week. Our team met soberly under the pavilion,
awaiting the new task at hand. We were all a little bit fatigued from the long run just two days ago. The temperature had crept up again, just to annoy our thirst for consistency.
Everyone was a bit quieter than normal. The thought on our minds was, how hard is it going to be? Will the toil of our labor produce the fruit of endurance? The final verdict for the day was
1000 meter repeats at Swanzey Lake. We set off on our journey up and over Talbot Hill. It was just a struggle to make it to the backside of the lake, never mind including repeats.
As we arrived, Coach put his rather brilliant mind to measuring out 1000 meters. He drove over in his familiar big red truck. We watched as he drove down the dirt road, door open and wheel
spinning at twenty miles an hour. We wondered what the passing cars and walkers must have thought of this display.

After a line was marked out on the dirt, with Coach’s foot, chaos began. Our team was very large, considering our small numbers, with a few middle schoolers in our midst. Our fingers were
anticipating the start of our watches. As someone yelled out, “Go!”, the chain reaction began. Jace Joslyn tripped, falling down right as he started. Alyssa soon followed, and fell on me. The
scrapes and bruises adorned us, as long as laughs, with a few tears. Though the fresh wound stung our bodies, nothing could stop us from finishing the repeats. It was an all around successful workout for many, and we made the trek back to the school. Though it was quite painful, it reminds us how clumsy and illogical we really are. Then again, who would we be if we didn’t get lost on a race course, or crash on our own two feet?

Yet, just as we thought everything was perfect, a shock came to our team. Our hearts stopped as we read the email that lay before our eyes. Practice was canceled for the week, along with
us not attending the Pelham invitational. It wasn’t as though we never complained, or had a good attitude every day. There was always some grumbling when we heard what the run was to
be. This announcement showed how much we really took our practices for granted. Without training hard, or being with each other, it was as if an essential part of our lives had been ripped from our grasp. We didn’t know whether the whole season was going to be canceled at all. Nothing was known at this point. It was now a barrier to complete the training on our own.

Wednesday was supposed to be another workout day. We all received emails of the repeats to be done on our own time. A few of us ironically met at the large cemetery for a mock workout of
last week. We repeated the 500 meters by 12 laps of 300 meter race pace. The weather was the same as it had been last time. Our bodies sought the shade that the sun so little provided.
Sweat poured down our brow as we grimaced in pain while hearing the times being called out to us. After it was over, the few of us breathed heavily, but felt a leap of joy. The workout was over. It made us mentally stronger, and physically faster. After sitting by the gravestone of William Sharkey, we set off, not to see each other again for a few days.

Thursday was hot and humid, once again. This week was the predicted “heat wave” of October. We still weren’t able to come together, but all completed an easy, 45 minute run. The prospect
of meeting again struck excitement in our hearts. Friday was a hill sprint workout. We ran a 2 mile warmup then began the sprints. We were instructed to find a very steep hill to complete
these on. This looked different for everyone. For some it was on a road, and others on a trail. Regardless, the workout was 4 by 60 seconds up, and then 4 by 45 seconds all out. It was a short, but intense run. We ran a 2 mile cooldown and waited for the next day. Thankfully, we all got to meet at the Colony Mill in Keene to be with each other on the last long run of the season. It was a hot day again, but the next day promised cooler weather, and the chance to redeem ourselves after a lonely week. As we gathered as a group again, the depression and frustration
lifted from our minds and dissolved in the hazy air. We set off on our run, with 35 minutes out and a progression run back.

Keene was beautiful, and the rail trail never disappoints. A golden glow was casted upon our widened eyes and thick leaves crunched beneath our feet. Butterscotch colored pine needles
fell around us in a tuscany storm. After returning, we bid each other farewell until the new week began.

Week 10: The Reunion

We gathered together again, with grins painted across our rosy cheeks. The newly cooled air swept through our thin hoodies and chilled us to the bone. It was a shock that our bodies hadn’t
expected. Though we had trained alone, the past week had been full of sweltering heat. Mondays always get the worst of our spirits, but it was comforting to know that our season
wasn’t canceled. We were renewed with a sustainable hope. We started out with our classic ten minute warm ups, catching up on all the latest gossip. Then it was to the sandpit for our downhill work.

It is only a few times a year that we are blessed with downhill repeats, opposed to uphill. Our defined legs flew down the newly graveled road in attempts to “just stop us from falling”.
Thankfully, there were no falls such as the Monday prior. We returned to the school and did some work on the track.  After a bit of confusion, we figured out what the workout was supposed to be. We ran 300 meters at race pace, and the 100 an easier float. This gave us deja vu all over again. We kept a tenacious grip on race pace. That was our focus for the next two weeks.

Tuesday came as soon as a burger from McDonalds. It was to be a more relaxing day, and thankfully we escaped the 1000 meter repeats. It was an easy run with only five miles to finish.
The day was as cold as before, and our numbed fingers gladly accepted the heat of our pockets. Coach led us on an intense core session. Surprisingly, stretching has become a staple in our
daily routines.

Wednesday was more unlucky than the beginning of the week. It had warmed up significantly with the air slightly dampened. We went to the large cemetery, and did the 1000 meter repeats we had been avoiding. The workout went well for most everyone, though none felt superb. We did 4 by 1000 meter repeats at our hopeful race pace. Then we went to the slightly smaller portion of the workout with a 4 by 400 meter loop. We finished it out with 2×200, and returned back to the school. It was our last big workout of the season. We felt overcome with joy, but also revered in its sentimental importance.

Thursday was mostly uneventful. It was an easy, four mile run full of over discussed topics. Yet, nothing else had graced our minds since the previous day. After trying to find the paper that
disappeared, we retired to our homes for another restful night. We looked forward to our scrimmage the next day.  It was beautiful at Swanzey lake. The water drifted lazily in small waves guided by a gentle wind. The thick trees covered the dirt packed road with a cold shade that was greeted as the two mile race began. Unfortunately, it had been two years since we had been able to do the Swanzey Lake race. It was always one of our favorites, but perhaps that was because it stretched a mile short of a 5k. Fall Mountain joined us and the boys ran along with the girls. The mood was one of happiness and everyone was in a good mood. We raced our 5k pace, though it may have been a bit fast, and finished the race enjoying each other’s company. The sun cast its blonde rays through the bare branches of the trees as we gathered together until Monday.

The weeks that come prior to States are one of anxiousness and excitement. The thought of the unknown haunts us day and night. Yet it comes no matter how much we worry and toil over the
aspect of failure. Personally, I cannot predict how the State Championships will play out. I can say one thing, Monadnock may not be the best in the state, but we will race with all our hearts
until we cross that finish line. We will give nothing but our best, and if it isn’t enough, then so be it. We will know in our very souls that we gave that 3.1 miles everything we had within us.

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