Wednesday, June 30, 2010

And I Raaaaaan, I Ran So Far Awaaaaaay

Note: This one might be more for me than anything, but you’re all welcome to come along… Also, I'll do better on Friday!

As mentioned the other day, I've won some awards in the past. Now, I've never won anything truly major -- except for that Nobel Peace Prize I won for brokering a peace treaty between Charlie’s Angels and the Hell’s Angels -- but one of the awards I won was for running Cross Country my senior year of high school.

I never intended to run Cross Country.

I actually loved football, but my size in high school -- roughly that of a twig -- was not terribly conducive to the cause. It wasn't until I was in my mid-twenties that I started playing soccer. As such, my autumns were pretty open with regard to sports.

In the summer between my sophomore and junior years of high school, I was moved into a new school district. I went from a relatively large school to one of those small ones where everyone knew and grew up with one another.

My final class of the day for that first semester was Physical Education. On the first day, we didn't actually do much of anything, except stand around and maybe get measured or something. (Admittedly, I'm not positive about getting measured, but I know there was a lot of standing around.)

Being a shy dude anyway -- new school or no new school -- I was just standing off to the side, minding my own business and probably thinking some of the weird thoughts I share with you guys. (“How unoriginal was the person who named the fruit ‘orange?’ I mean, yeah, I get that the fruit is that color and there is an obvious connection, but he/she couldn’t come up with anything better? Not even putting a letter in front of ‘orange?’ We could be eating zoranges. How cool would that be? Man, they really missed the boat on that one.”)

[Yeah, I know… I was lame. Let’s move on, people.] (“Did he say ‘was’?”)

While standing around, one of the guys from my class came up to me and we had the following exchange:

New Kid from New School: Hey, you're new here, aren't you?
Me: "Uh, yep." (While thinking: "Obviously, since the rest of you all know each other.")
New Kid from New School: Can you run?
Me: "Uh, yep." (While thinking: "One foot in front of the other, preferably faster than slower. What un-handicapped kid can't handle that?")
New Kid from New School: You should join Cross Country.
Me: "Okay."

(Let it never be said that I am un-agreeable!)

So I joined the Cross Country team.

We ran.

Coach Pritichard, assuming you are one of the billions of Ducks Out Of A Row readers, stop reading now! (Well, I don't mean "reading in general." If nothing else, I like to think of myself as someone who promotes literacy, and as being not an advocate of an alliterate society. So stop reading just the rest of today's post and come back again on Friday when we tackle the lowering of society's bar for entertainment. Thank you.)

Sometimes, we stopped at the bakery and got free cookies.

Anyhow, the summer in between junior and senior years, I ran twice. On the same day.

I had received a random call from a teammate asking if I wanted to go for a run. I was up for it. (See my note about being agreeable somewhere up there.) So we hit the roads running. When we got back to our starting point, most of the other guys from the team were there. They said "Hey, we're going out for a run, wanna come with?" So I went for a second run. And that was my "off-season training."

Well, during season, I somehow managed to drop a fairly significant amount of time. I don't remember the specifics, but it was more than enough to win the "Most Improved" award for our team.

When presenting the award at the end of the season banquet, Coach Pritchard made sure to mention that "John must have really busted his ass in the off season." And you know what? For those two runs, I certainly did.

Friday’s topic: Here we are now, entertain us!


  1. those awards are so meaningful, and i love how someone simply approaching us and asking if we can run can lead to a beautiful activity as a teenager than sticks with us for life. i played baseball and my small accomplishments are still important to me. all men, and all women, have little children alive inside us that still relish those times.
    and yeah, i was built like a twig too. hey, one of my nicknames back in the day was 'stick.' yeah:)

  2. Love the 80's flashback title. Flock of Seagulls had some weird hairdos in their day.
    I'm fairly jealous of your award, since I can't run to save my life. I was not built for running. I was built for climbing coconut trees or something like that.

  3. I was always jealous of the twiggy runners growing up. You all seemed to a grace that a plodder like myself could never achieve. Hmmm, maybe that's how I got roped into Waltz. Welp, better graceful now than never.

  4. You're like those people who never hit a book but breeze through all their classes!

  5. LOL, this post is so great! I ran cross country in high school, too! While I did run a lot more than twice during the off season, it didn't stop me and my teammates from running to Rita's for water ice. And running to Dairy Queen for ice cream. You know, we really needed those oh-so-nutritious treats. Water ice is practically all water and ice cream is dairy and strengthens bones. Runners need all that, haha!

  6. I was big time into running all through high school and university!

    Love this post!

  7. You are quickly becoming my new favorite blogger.

    We live a stone's throw away from Nease High School (alma mater of Tim Tebow... that name ring a bell?) and they have a terrific cross country program. Every afternoon when the shirtless young studs come running past my window, I'll think of you. Fair enough?



Leave a comment. (All the cool kids are doing it.)