Book II Chapter7 section 2 Tales of Dead Armadillo a Novel Tale of Crosscountry running novel by Esteban Erik Stipnieks All rights Reserved



Tuesday came at Tara's house early.  For Ace it was more pre-hab then school. He had done the 20 minutes on the bike to maintain the quad strength in the knee stabilizing it. The three bacon and egg tacos and large whole milk washed down the two Advil and kept the stomach safe as he made it early to school to get the prints done of the football game from the Friday night. The two were at different locations that morning. The printed for the football game were done before class.

Serg was there with Kimber, Linda, Amanda and Tara at lunch. Two peanut butter jelly and Power bar sandwiches along with a bottle of Gatorade was lunch. Kimber asked Stephen how he felt to be back on JV. Serg replied, "He is the Guido in the background making sure Thomas and Mike do not start slacking." Tara laughed. Ace then said, "Amazing how it is going to end but happy my career is ending here." Serg responded yeah. Kimber was curious about how the guys were now afraid of being "Allened" Stephen started the story, “First Noel Scott had dated his older sister in high school." Tara had not heard that part of it. He continued "Marcus was the king they had the reputation of New Braunfels as far as unity of community but it was far rico and oh so Gringo." Serg raised his eyebrows at the point. Tara rolled he eyes. "Allen had beaten us every single meet of the season. Our home meet and district meet was one in the same. Well they bought plane tickets since regionals were in Lubbock. Dallas to Lubbock was the flight. They were not counting on the fact we would get a couples passes at points and run the dam at Northlake’s. We got em the, the meet that mattered." Tara had agreed with the lines except the reference to rich dirty white folks. Serg said, “So you got to go?” Ace responded "Nicest course I never ran." Kimber was intrigued. Stephen related how they took off early. It was clear that how the girls with their gift pack and balloons were appreciated. Tara never grasped how much the gesture meant something to the guys. Ace related the flights in Southwest Airlines airplanes that fun. He had gone caffeine free and he related how good the coffee tasted at the County line and how he almost passed out when caffeine from Dr. Pepper his blood stream. So Serg responded, “You going to make sure that lesson is not forgotten.” Ace responded "We can get gold...we better not lose it." It was soon time for class.

Coach Bob announced the run the last period "Guys run golf course like you mean it." They talk was non existant through the halls as the team made their way to locker room. Tom finally said, "The Farwell tour gets closer to its final stop." Ace said, “Hey I may just be an alternate but I am going to make darn sure we get a week extension on the season.” Serg replied “Scare Thomas and Mike straight!” Bo replied "Yep Ace that is the plan keep them scared and hungry." Coach Bob replied "Since these German's do not have Pit bulls you mean I got one chasing you the whole run." Coach Noel was in there "At least you partially house broke him." There was laughter. Ace responded, “For us seniors we know the only thing we will regret is the effort we did not put out today.” Bo replied "Amen preacher man." Coach Noel responded "You Juniors you do want to be Allened."

As they walked out the back exit of the building, they were met by the girls. Amanda saw the guys still on fire. Tom's face had a fire on it. Kimber smiled the guys had the fire. She was quiet she had been to quiet she realized.  Thomas and Mike knew what was ahead. Ace had little regard for his own comfort. The promise of having the medal form a teammate would be nice way to leave. The group stretched at Unicorn stadium on their track. The stretching had a serious tone the run was going to be a long one for the guys. Kimber having the rest of the girls running an Eden Home also had a bit serious tone as well. The freight train was accelerating down the tracks and Lezlee had a look on her face the point was to back up and worthy of the double threat. The team was loose and it was soon time to face themselves and continue another chapter of their quest for glory.

The group took off. Tom took off on the run he had known for so much of his life the last 4 years. He was aware this was one of the last times he would run it having it matter. As he crossed the football field, he found himself unable to escape the fact. The familar landmarks the parking lot the football field marked on asphalt all were developing a different tinge a vibe. He was going at a decent clip. Ace had spoken what he had been feeling. Ace did have a gift with words. Ace was with him as they turned down California. They were right at conversational pace "One less time doing this." They turned on California together. Tom quipped remember what Luling said "Go Hard or Go home" They made the wider turn keeping facing the traffic in a single swoop. With a little bit of form they were closing in on Serg. The pace was reasonable not too fast early on but it was a bit faster then traditional long-range cruise. The group made it to lakeview and the mass reasserted itself. Thomas and Mike were close to Serg, who was only a step or two ahead Tom and Ace were a part of that mass on the back end. They Passed a house where an old PE teacher watched them through his living room window cheering them recognizing some of them and was happy to see them. They were a pack in control the loss of Special still rattled them. The realization of district glory and its potential was now a powerful force. The heat had only somewhat abated. The familar sensation of having their bodies soaked with sweat and it in the eye was now filling them. Each run had a different personalty. The urgency of the end was growing stronger as reach run the seniors were closer to the end of their crosscountry career. With the end of Lakeview Blvd and the turn left the group was tighter they had accelerated without the conscious knowledge of any of them. Serg felt the emotion Tom felt the emotion they added a bit speed. Thomas and Mike saw it. Ace was not about to be passed at that point as cool calm and analytical he was on the course he was the reverse on practice. The shade was relief yet it was enjoyed less as the group more quickly went through it. As the dip approached, Stephen King was more aggressive and he shoved his weight just a bit further forward accelerated rapidly down the dip that was the original channel of the Comal River. At the base Ace went to full power and the strength allowed him to gain significantly on Bo. As Bo was around the bend between the parking lot and the Wursthalle he saw Ace and the group not that far behind. He had fallen victim to the lack of fire up front. French Fries and Raul were hanging on talent as Bo surged French Fried and Raul heard his footsteps. By the Olympic pool, the group was now surging forward. It had cost some lactic acid but Ace was not yet backing off. The three seniors were hungry as heck Thomas and Mike could feel their intensity the result was there would be no backing off despite the heat as the group went in front of the circle arts theatre just a bit meaner and hungrier then they had been previous. The band was well into warming up the dirge and the emotion or those who it was playing for had rubbed off. The pace was quicker through the park the line was straight aimed at the point of the start of Panther Canyon between the Springs from where the Comal began.

trail head to Panther Canyon note beyond the dip and under bridge lies 1 spring and  to the viewer's left is another)

Once in Panther Canyon from slightly into afterburners the guys went to full burners through the dips and high line and the sound scared deer up to the houses on either end they were running at a healthy clip the foot steps were loud as the path criss crossed a climbing draw to the point just shy of the high school where the trail nearly disappeared and had to be walked with the great verticality. Finally, near the parking lot the 200 yards to the stadium was run at full speed.

The feeling for Tara was noticeable Linda and Amanda were experiencing something like the town that had forged Ace both bitter and sweet. The end of their careers was getting closer there was also the joy in not bearing the burden of stardom. The guys took off with spirit and hunger. As the girls ran down Ohio, even Amanda had a look on her face. Linda told Tara that next year she would understand what was going on. The guys were slowly drifting from sight but the girls were running at a faster clip why not. Linda had been chilled by the story of Allen. The hope was also brewing faster speeds as the four women ran down California Blvd. Tara was between three radically different people on the girl’s team. The guys were going hard Amanda commented, "We have to keep Stephen Ray and Troy honest.” Linda chuckled a bit, the two surged a bit, and Tara knowing but feeling challenged joined the chase. The goal was to keep their footsteps in the ears of the two guys. Yeah they would be exhausted afterward but it would be fun. They continued the collective sounds six feet and their crazy rhythm was filling Stephen Ray's ears as they went down Lakeview Blvd. Down by Eden home the group accelerated downhill and made the turn south. Tara feeling the familar sensations but she also felt the fun as Steven Ray was forced to run hard. Linda and Amanda had a goofy grin on their face as they made it through the tree-lined street that paralleled the top of Landa Lake. Steven Ray had finally gotten tired and surged ahead. The girls continued hot sweaty and steadily tiring. Amanda and Linda began a break away at the rise that crossed the old Katy railroad. The two remained light. Leisha was close behind Tara they went over the hump of the railroad tracks and down to the base of the dip and bridge over the low water crossing of the Comal. The hill upwards and to the Wursthalle complex was a pain. They were stronger but they had to go faster now. They crested it and made the wide bend. Leisha understood stood some symbology of buildings they saw for Tara they did not have the impact that Linda and Amanda both felt. The group approached the heart of Landa Park. Tara loved a beautiful shady spot. She was adapting to the beauty of he new surroundings and liking them more and more. It was far more scenic then Northlake’s at Denton. Tara accelerated a bit trying to close in on Amanda and Linda she liked being a part of a winning team. The fact that the girls had been stars had been a pleasant surprise she actually aimed aright between the slave dug channel/mill race and though hidden by a big hump she ran the straightest line to the base of Panther Canyon. Once there Tara's strength continued to help her as she made the way up the now familar canyon which had been a familiar location. She was tired when she saw the base of the high school. Fatique was there but desire was there she surged hard to finish off the run.

She was greeted by Ace and Stephen Ray who had exceed for her and Leisha. The group did crunches and pushups together. The number of training runs in their careers had diminished by one. The seniors were noticing it and feeling it. Then it was time for a large meal at home.


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