Book II Chapter 6 section II Tales of Dead Armadillo Novel about Crosscountry Running Novel By Esteban Erik Stipnieks and New Braunfels 1993


The first big workout of the week had been done. Tuesday began with the realization they got two more hard workouts to go. Oat meal eggs, whole wheat bread, power bars juice and whole milk oh my was on breakfast tables. Eat early eat big make most of those calories count with nutrition. Amanda's legs were slightly sore that morning. The photo assignment was the workout on Wednesday for yearbook and for the school newspaper. Raul was being featured. Ace ate lunch and the quips about how distance runners ate bananas came from Al swung by where Serg, Tara, Kimber and Amanda were eating lunch eating a banana almost at the same time. Al could not resist "Is that a strange coed team bonding ritual" Stephen rolled his eyes at Al. Tara looked at him "Do you want me to tell my dad you do not know how to talk to his daughter." Al was surprised. He did not offer an apology Bull then said "Do not mess with her." Al then said you gotta admit guys and girls eating bananas together is funny. Amanda was looking unnerved at the risqué talk Serg smiled. Tara would have a simple conversation with her dad.  She had growled. 

The speed workout would be on track Wednesday Coach Bob confirmed. That meant that today would be a semi recovery day long slow distance. The film for the track workout would have to be rolled the following morning. The bell rang and it was off the last bit of classes before the workout. French fries caught ace. Ace looked at him three weeks till district. There was a certain grief and urgency in the face of Stephen.

Most of the team was in Coach Bob's classroom. He laid out the workout for the some of the girls and the guys. It was Pit stop. Coach Bob then said this is just to add mileage do not juice to it too hard save it for tomorrow night run it with meaning but do not race it. Everybody did a good job yesterday. He then addressed the rest of the girls it would be Encinco run in the same way. With Paul still injured Coach Bob announced Stephen would remain off JV for a fourth meet. He also reminded the team to be quiet in the hallway while going to the locker room. Three letters out of 4 years was not bad.

For once there not much conversation. It was simple stay short of the lactic acid threshold deal with the heat deal with the boredom and go. They group changed into their workout gear shorts long loose the bulk of the guys wore T-shirts to school. It was going to be simple a battle of boredom. They quickly left the locker room Stretching was a formality. Tara noticed the feel. Tom was philosophic we got to build up the cardio capacity. It is that simple. They were going to be stuck doing a run. With that they took off together not the typical drag race but a group. Each had their feeling group running at a decent pace was not easy but they realized that together they stood a better chance of dealing with the thirty five minutes of boredom that would follow and the "conversational pace" would be the goal. They crossed the loop and talked about a whole host of things from music to life. Tara filled in Leisha with the news from Denton. Bo hit additional lowlights for Stephen in the missing two years. Clear creek murders were talked about in the long slow 20 minutes to the pit stop at River Road. The Eagle feather and the different kind of hoof was on Ace.  The shock wave had passed finally the sadness was there.  One the way back the team talked about district. Raul and Aero got a heavy dose of indoctrination. They seniors were leaning hard on the two freshmen not putting pressure but the team's collective force was applied in a way that Ace approved of. The team needed Raul and Aero even Bo realized his start status could not keep up with the brute talent of the two freshmen. It was as if the team had changed tactics. Thomas, Mike and Serg had sworn off partying. Raul though was not getting it. It was echoes of another incident where two freshmen had almost started a wild fire in Panther Canyon the previous year. Aero was hearing but not understanding. The slightly cooler air made the run tolerable. There was some stringing of the group but not too much. They approached Oakwood Baptist again they were nearing the end of the run. Raul did not grasp the events of just a year previous would somehow impact his life. He also was dealing with the fat he was like Speedy Gonzales hope but the team's pressure him to even for the rest of the season to straighten up and fly right. His actions were affecting the team. Stephen realized without big bouts of alcohol Thomas and Mike would soon be running fast. If that meant district victory that was cool who cares if meant Ace would finish out on JV.  The dream though was audible and the course was made clear. Tara could feel the force a team unified in a way that was stunning to her. She liked it and realized why Stephen King had missed it.   The Unicorn team sizzled with intensity. 

Coach Bob could see the group approaching in a distance they were still tight. It was strange he had lost some control over some of the players yet the direction of the team was clear. In the background he could see a football player running bleachers shouting "I will not mock the training diet of my fellow Unicorns.” He was a big hispanic kid. He asked what happened to Tara's dad. He told the story "Trade you stop his laps if he is made to be our Exceed boy Saturday." Tara's dad smiled "I will give him the option now." It was a home game Friday Stephen King would be there to photograph doing double duty. As the team walked back the football coach said "You got your water boy.” Coach Bob could see Coach Noel Scott direct the crunches and push ups. Coach Bob smiled. The man was unpretentious and while the football team had gotten glory he had actually deepened traditions of Unicorn unity. 

Coach Bob and Coach Noel watched what was happening with a smile on both their faces. Coach Noel made a the comment "I think the girls are actually working harder now that the burden of team stardom is off them.” Coach Bob replied “Amanda is a little more relaxed these days.” Coach Noel said "For our PR we will have to allow Stephen to run with girls one or two 800s.” Coach Bob said “Yeah but he will not slow down he’s got too much invested in the team and his vision.” Coach Noel said "I'll remind him of tomorrow night." Coach Bob then said "He seems to respect you more then he does me." Coach Noel Scott responded "That's why I joined you I am his older brother in Christ I understand his vision I refine it some according to the fact I have walked with his Lord longer then he has." Coach Bob then quipped "For someone who does not respect me he has become my enforcer and co conspira-tor." Coach Noel Scott laughed at the irony of it. That irony was obvious to all.  Coach Bob replied "Yeah I know we have disagreed on things but you are not a jerk about have done stuff I could not have." Coach Bob then asked "How much of this team is escape and how much of this team is mission field for Ace.” Coach Noel Scott laughed “Good question.”  Both knew how different Ace was from his parents.  The two men agreed that district glory was the course they were on and their job was to keep the ship on course.  Two teams full glory would be a first for both.  It was becoming evident the dream was shared by many.

After the workout there was homework to do for the team members. Stephen kept his parents at a distance his father's quips about darn religious fanatics had really the opposite of that intended effects at the house of Stephen. Stephen lived a separate life and kept more and more of his thoughts away from his father who knew nothing more then a hammer approach to a relationship he had long since practically destroyed. Stephen's mom was too busy to pay too much attention to her son. The couple was unaware of the person that they fed and shared a house with. The time and effort in their careers had built them up but it had cost them a relationship they were only dimly aware of the fact that their son was now emerging in a different way. Stephen had eaten like a hungry man took his two Advil did his homework and was early to bed as usual. The two were amazed at how little he talked.



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