Tales of Dead Armadillo a Novel About Crosscountry Running New Braunfels Texas 1993 by Esteban Erik Stipnieks all rights reserved.



Wednesday was in many ways a push day of sorts. Amanda Cook and turned in her homework she enjoyed physics with the goof teacher.  He had his ways of challenging girls made them perform as well as the boys. Tara was given a history test by a friend of her father. Most of it was multiple choice. Algebra II drug on for Tara. The team left early Stephen King was stuck in yearbook doing a contact sheet he did have the joy of lunch with his friends.

Coach Bob had seen the odd couple of girls JV hang out the cheerleader and the nerd. The cross-country team and the football team oddly enough were like them pirate cove and golden boys actually were secretly very closely aligned. Unlike Denton where there was some acrimony the head coach's daughter and the two common team members allowed the two camps to mock each other but it was a kabuki theatre. He decided that Indian file on Encino would be great option the double block that went by Anna's house was a convent mile and the terrain kept his team sharp. The time of the workout was six o'clock. The time allowed just some day light and it allowed Coach Noel and Bob to get grading done.

Unicorn stadium had the sound of the band. The tradition of stretching in a circle on the track continued. Coach Bob announced we are going to jog to Encino where we will do four laps of Indian file. There was gallows laughter at the news. They took off at a leisurely jog to a point located at Encino and Laurel Lane. Coach Noel Scott waited and followed with the 10-gallon jug of exceed mixed.  The vacant corner lot on Encino and Laurel Lane would be where they would start from.

The jog to the sign was uneventful. It was an empty lot on the corner that had never been developed. The people formed up they were running down Encino first then taking the turn.

Stephen King was up front he knew to set pace that was moderate. Raul took off and things accelerated. The last runner had to pass the group. Then the snake would continue. The dip starting gave acceleration Stephen actually applied a little bit of a breaking impulse. Raul took off quickly and the pace of the line increased as they went up the dip. Aero was making the pass on the line as it was on the reverse side of the dip. Tom was not happy Bo wanted to slow down the line as it was. Serg slammed it hard wanting to throw a wrinkle into the situation and he had started believing. He simply waited a second and took off a decent rate of closure using the hill help him some and then set the pace slightly lower. Tom was next controlling the speed as they continued as the residential street continued lead down the side of a hill. Stephen King had earned the position next. The group whizzed past Balcones. Mike wanted to take a little anger out at Ace and he darted forward. Thomas likewise had an evil grin on his face to issue just a bit of payback for yesterday even if the whole team hurt. Stephen Ray followed. Troy was last and he was stuck doing the mini peak just past a dentist's house. Raul darted hill as Anna's mothers house came into view. That left Aero with a turn and uphill segment in front of Anna's house. Bo was not happy but he took Laurel lane its worst making the pass as the team trucked up that huge section and a vacant lot just shy of house taking them back by Balcones. Tom made sure Bo was at front when he made his pass on the group that left Stephen King with the pre dip hill by Donna's house. Thomas jacked it up by the dip Mike was right behind him that left Stephen Ray and Troy forced to finish their bit for pride as the group finished and made it back to the starting point on the corner of Laurel Lane and Encino.

(Encino minicrest before hitting Laurel Lane)

Coach Noël had the girls JV and Varsity run separate. Kimber, Kathrine, Kim, Leisha, Tara, Linda and Amanda lined up once the boys were off they were took off. Kimber's pace was controlled yet purposeful. Amanda darted and made the pass before the base of the tip of a draw that fed the Canyon that ran parallel to Panther Canyon. Amanda was driving hard using her talent. Linda made a likewise controlled pass. Tara was not about to back down then keep pushing things she played a bit with the slight decline of Encino but she added some juice. Leisha knew the score and wanted to keep up the pace. Kim had media Tejana pride the collective shame had been felt. Kimber quietly demonstrated Christian leadership with her pass they were approaching Balcones. Amanda smoothly went down the line and one house into the second block. Linda followed. They passed a former Nazi scientists house. Tara felt a little whimpy and made sure she was at the front before the dip of the dentist's house was completed. She knew there would be two more after this. Leisha smiled a bit ok Tara was not always a saint. Kim made her pass using the downhill until its full force. Kathrine forced her way up the hill. Kimber's faith beckoned her to finish the hill. All the girls heard Anna's mom cheering on the team...it was nice having support. Amanda was happy that Kimber had left her the ability to make the pass on the level section of Laurel Lane. Linda took advantage of the situation. That left Tara at the base of the pre dip hill. Kim Rosignol made the pass on the crest of the hill. Kathrine used the hill to make her pass by the base. Amanda shoved her way up the base of the dip that fed into the Canyon. Linda made the pass before the turn. Tara saw the finish for this but she made her pass and extended it past the house into the vacant lot. She took one for the team.

Encino into Laurel Lane

Anna was at the start of the girls Lezlee, Julie, Jennifer, Allison, Stephanie Moore and Brandy had their line. They dealth with the terrain. They kept trucking. They wound up completing the cycle four times though they were slowest of all. There was cohesion in the unit. They were not the stars but they liked running together. They were a sleeper so to speak. They got the job done and helped maintain Unicorn pride in its unique form.

The group walked around after their first mile. The pulses were slowly coming down. Annas mom and cheered on her daughter and the team. It was good to be loved. The T-shirts were hung on the street sign. Coach Bob said "Good job another time."

Stephen King was placed up front for the second lap for the boys. For crosscountry runners the exercise was always a bit interesting like herding cats. Then the fact that the long block was on the side of a hill made things more fun. Raul had talent but in many ways, he Thomas and Mike had been the least cohesive members of the team. The gauntlet that had been thrown down by Thomas and Mike was responded by Stephen running a faster pace when he was at the head of the line. He also exploded out on his two times around the back. Anna’s parents had taken the lawn chairs in the front yard by the Volvo Wagon. You did not want to be stuck having to make up hill turn by the Holtzmans house. It was wide and steep. The lip of Laurel lane was also undesirable. Stephen got the lip of laurel. Raul got the first dip. The altered blend by the coaches further mixed things up. The lack of a full JV squad had complicated thing. Raul and Aero having stardom was another issue. Stephen King was a die hard. The result was two and a quarter cycles for the whole Indian file.

Crest of Laurel Lane

The speed order was inverted for the next lap of the girl’s varsity. Tara wound up getting stuck with the uphill at the base of Encino shy of the Holtzmans house on the corner of Encino and Laurel Lane on the other end. The unit kept a good clip up. They were cohesive. Victory was the preferred flavor in their mouths and the sting of defeat had united them though Amanda, Tara and Linda were pointing three different ways.

The girls JV was Junior Varsity with a few odd balls a cheer leader and fun girls mixed in but the group got a long. They did the lap going through twice feeling a degree of unity. They had had one more. The cheering of a familiar parent made things work. Anna and Lezlee enjoyed running in that part of the neighborhood.

The chillier air was welcome. Bo smiled at Stephen King only two more to go. Their pulse was coming down their legs were burning. It was back to fastest to slowest in the order. Raul was at the top Troy made his valiant pass. He had recently cut out partying and he was down at the base of the dip. Medina Valley had wakened him up. Stephen Ray who had played soccer with him back in elementary made the journey to the top of the line. Thomas was next he had made his point and the group was running at a good clip. They were pushing themselves but the timing had been standardized. Mike went up next. Stephen made his move a couple houses short of Balcones. Tom purposefully made his pass. Serg wanting glory and realizing the potential in the varsity team attacked the pass. It was time for Bo to do his bit. He used the form of the hill and an explosion of speed to make a statement of his place on the team. Aero the speedy freshman responded to the challenge starting out by the Nazi scientists house who was to die six years later in a murder suicide. Down by the dentist house Raul made his pass. That stuck Troy with the up hill portion. Stephen Ray made his penance with a quick pass because Troy was slowing the group. Anna’s mom’s voice of encouragement filled the team's ears. Stephen ray did not pick up the pace too much allowing Thomas to make his pass on the down hill. Mike shouted damn. Tom made his move purposeful. Serg exploded allowing Stephen King the joy of cresting Laurel Lane. Tom said lets one more done at least before hit the corner. Thomas was forced and he also wanted to get the pass done on the level section pre dip. Mike followed. Stephen ray quipped yeah leave me with the hill. Troy got the crest pre dip. Raul made it before the base of the dip. Aero for pride's sake made it by the driveway on before the right turn by the old Seele teacher's house. That forced Bo who made it before the other driveway. Tom made it by the next. That left Serg to close the distance to the street sign.

As the varsity girls took off Amanda looked at Tara and Linda, we are having a good workout let’s keep it up. Down the line the agreement stuck. What followed for them was a textbook Indian file run. Each pass was made succinctly purposefully and the passer did not make it too far out. They girls had managed to find rhythm and relentlessly the line moved down Encino right behind the guys and the guys line slowly went further. By the time line passed in front of Anna’s house they had done two cycles and forty yards had separated the first girl and last guy. The cheering of the mother worked. Tara had gone from stranger to Encino to handling it including the big streak of gravel by the Hotlzman's house. She had been on Denton teams this team that she was on had force but under control. She made her pass up the hill with Anna's moms cheering her on. It was a very nice touch. Kimber was stuck with the cresting duty on Laurel Lane. They continued knowing it would be their last one. Linda said lets finish strong the pace of the group went faster through the final 3 tenths of a mile.

Lezlee was not a whimp. She did not have much talent but the fact that the JV team had its own collection of medals for a while was at testimony. Preps, Geeks and Cheerleaders with a couple new team members. She knew the mile loop like the back of her hand by now. Anna may have been a party girl but in her heart was the spirit competition and drive. She also wanted to stay in shape to appeal the guys. They were not as fast as varsity but knowing it would be the last each of the girls. Lezlee wound up making the cycle once on Encino as it gradually descended. She got the fun of cresting by the Holtzmans's house. Julie had been riffing off the backbeat being played by Stephen King, Tara and Kimber that Coach Noel Scott had discreetly been directing respecting the establishment clause. She had a sense of mission as she crested Laurel. Anna’s mother's cheers had been welcome. They made it there legs were burning they were sweat soaked but they knew the workout was just about over. Once there was a little recovery time.

Coach Noel Scott was prompted to announce how the workout would end. He gave the girls three minutes to a point along the mile course and to cheer on the guys they would do one more lap of Indian and as they passed the girls, they the girls could form up and they would head back to campus. The catch was they could only take a position in the direction that the team had been running.

The guys enjoyed the last bit of the workout the Exceed went to the high school it had been nursed a bit as the girls scattered the guys lined up and when the three minute time hit they guys started. Each pass of the line you had to roar into lactic acid fermneatoin and hold it for 15 seconds as your cohorts jogged.  Stephen was aggressive the sun was setting and the band was practicing on the stadium and they could hear the music it actually motivated the group. The intensity could be cut as the he hit the corner it was as now a run. The run home to Unicorn stadium awaited. The group ran a bit faster trying to use the daylight to hit home. They arrived at the stadium with their approach to the Alma Matre which in the end triggered a leap forward. The Exceed bucket was all but drained. The group despite the slightly cooler temps were soaked with sweat. There legs were burning. Lezlee had a side stitch. Steven Ray was trying hard not to be French Fries. Ace did extra crunches. Then it was crunches as the fight song was played on the infield. Pushups were done in a group. The sky was black with the reflections of light from some clouds. Stephen was exhausted but he had done his homework slept came easy that night. Thursday’s early departure with the prehab came soon. For Coach Bob the team had passed its gut check. Seguin awaited.



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