Book 2 Chapter Seven Section 3 Esteban Erik Stipnieks all rights Reserved



Wednesday was going to be night workout. That meant lunch with the Kimber, Serg, Tara, Amanda and Linda. It was going to be a speed workout the rhythm was set one last week. The last meet was Boerne a course unfamiliar with Stephen King. He asked Serg about it and got a general description. Serg asked, "How is your mom taking you being on JV?" Ace responded, “She does not know she has been asked to stay at home...she will find out Saturday.” He laughed a bit. Tara rolled her eyes. Serg had no idea of the strain in the family and the fact that Ace had only light contact with his cousin a year younger that he had been dubbed Garfield. Odie had grown strong. Kimber asked, “Was it worth it?” Ace responded, "How many chemically dependent people are at this school? How many suicides and ODs have been related to this school?" Kimber felt the poke aimed at her.  Amanda asked, "How does your protest help?" Ace replied, "Double standards end with me." Kimber replied, "People have noticed on the team." Ace then said "I hope my mom can claim credit she got the job to clean up what has been years in the making." That was surprising to Amanda. Ambition had blinded his mom to the details of the bigger picture on how her actions toward her son had to be consistent.  Ace knew him and his mom were on the same side.  She had a blind spot that her son had saved her from.  Amanda was surprised to see how Ace who hid from his mother had no great love for her grasped this.   Ace had aligned himself with his mother.  

The last period study hall paid dividends the homework was done before school ended. The chill in the air was not excessive but the blow torch heat was gone. The team was going to do its last super hard workout of the season.

Tom and Ace arrived early. Dennis was there speaking with Amanda. The shirt was from Denton. The training shoes were also from the vintage. It was clear that Coach Bob and Coach Noel were dealing with seniors at a near fever pitch of emotion. Coach Bob asked "Why the Denton shirt?" Ace responded, "This season would not have happened the way it did without my two years there." Amanda replied "Yep and your fight with Donna." Ace laughed. "She is still class president." Bo replied, "Yeah but you are the rebel in chief. The school knows you volunteered to run JV and knows its implications." The pause was brief "Kara would have been proud of you." Coach Scott said.  Ace cried and smiled at the same time.  Tara knew a little about Kara. The statement was safe. A tear was visible to all. Joy and grief were mingled in the same moment.  The truth was hard to deny.  The truth was powerful.  Stephen Ray had noticed it. He asked, “Why you so emotional about it?”  Ace replied "Hopefully you will never know."  There was another feeling.  That mood was thick as they stretched seniors knew this was their last full bore workout for a district of their crosscountry career regionals were not guarantied....they were lusted after. Those workouts were a different category. Tara even noticed Kimber's demeanor had shifted as if a funeral dirge was occurring while they stretched.

As they assembled to the line, Ace belted out "No second takes for seniors." The statement was hitting an ignition switch. Coach Bob shouted go. The candle had been lit.

Dennis and Bo felt it and were right on the heels of French Fries and Raul. Ace had passed up Thomas and Mike. Serg was pushing hard halving the traditional distance between Bo and him. Thomas and Mike anticipating a fade but it forced them to pick up the pace even in the first lap of the 8 minute time period. Coach Noel had placed himself at the top of the track as he heard the crackle of adrenaline and the firing of the second stage as the first stage fell away. The team had more tension and far more drama then Denton ever had. He saw them run. Bo had acknowledged the fact that Stephen had been a hard kick in the butt. The first lap set the tone. Tara had started learning to serve. Kimber was hungry and Amanda having been rattled and torn like the town had smelled the power behind the storm that was raging in the halls. Bo was feeling the restlessness as Dennis was beside him "No second takes for seniors.” Anna had heard the battle cry. She was going to try for 6:05 mile come hell or high water. They first quarter was run Coach Bob gave the time to each of the runners personalized. He was feeling the roar his seniors so far had hit the burners and him and Coach Noel were feeling a 3 G acceleration. Tom and Kimber had to deal with all the energy. Tom was serious as be began his second lap. He was beyond the lactic acid threshold a fair distance but just shy of reckless at the 75-second quarter Ace was not too far behind. The adrenaline that had been built up in the warm up in all the seniors was now manifesting itself, as the fire of desire was now translated to speed and aggression after all no second takes. Kimber was showing her fire. The next quarters ground out the guys started lapping the girls Leisha, Tara, Linda and Amanda were keeping on the lead lap. Stephen Ray and the other JV boys were realizing a pass on them was a joke and they knew they dared not back off lest the look from hell happen. Coach Bob continued to call out the times as Serg had started believing. Four minutes had passed and then five minutes the team sped up each person running his or her own pace but feeling the need to pass or to speed up. Raul was fully aware of what was going on. He was unaware of the forces that was driving the explosion that seemed be detonating even louder before him. He had never gotten a connection to the land. His mind had a hard enough time figuring out his sister. Aero knew something unusual was going on. He had been the son of an air force officer and his mother had a divorce. As only child he was having a hard time grasping the light and dark side of Ace. He was enjoying the rocket ride though he feared if he appeared to slack that Bo would rip him a new one. Dennis was far more mean. Ace had a tongue like a Katana but once it struck and the guilt trip on the Concorde it was over with. So he was stuck running as he heard 7 minutes ahead he had one choice to put the pedal on the floor.

Coach Bob as the team walked quipped to his assistant "For someone who really does not respect me Ace has become quite the co conspirator."  The two men laughed.  Watching the 8 minute time period the guys were running harder and faster then he had remembered.  The talent that had been abused and neglected had suddenly been drawn into.  Coach Bob had howled to Stephen.  Now Ace and Dennis have full-filled a long standing wish of Coach Bob.  Thomas and Mike were pushing things hard.  District was approaching and now the goal was to make it there and take full glory. 

French Fires and Raul were congratulated for the job they did. Dennis was quiet and honest. Bo with his hipster. For Raul and Aero, it was clear that anything less would have constituted a betrayal. Thomas and Mike had finished just seconds of Ace Thomas had beaten him by a scant six feet. Thomas looked at Ace "You are going to make sure!" Serg replied, "Ace has eaten fruit of victory and burned an exposed butt." Ace was breathing heavily as they walked a quarter. Ace then quipped, "We are busting our butts to run at UTSA again" UTSA was said with such a negative inflexion. Coach Noel replied, "You can't have it all." Tara asked "Was Lubbock that nice?" Ace replied "Yes!" Mike said, "Stop reminding us about it then." Kimber said "Let him have his memory lets face it UTSA is no fun but it is regional meet location." Amanda said "Yeah that is why I heard enough of Lubbock." Ace looked at the girl who had become a friend and a person whom he had made an alliance with. You got it. Coach Bob had them check their pulses. The Stadium lights were on but once again the band was not there. The pulses were where they needed to be.

It was time for the four minutes. Dennis said, "If you are not at 100% after your first quarter you need to go home." He looked at Ace would rather you run crazy then wussy.” With that Coach Bob shouted go. Raul took off hard not quite max but close enough. Bo and Dennis were two pit bulls chasing the Freshman. They knew the three letter word that motivated them. Coach Noel was calling each of their names. Ace had passed Thomas and Mike up. It was going to be interesting to see. Steven Ray was holding off Amanda and Linda. Tara was not allowing the two faster girls get ahead. Anna and Lezlee were the mini pits JV was still competition and with the guys acting like men even JV girls were showing even more force. For Ace, the plan was simple stay on the gas. He might not able to do it but. Thomas and Mike had a better chance but only one way to find out was to hold it. The first lap had been completed. Coach Bob noted that Ace was head by a step of Thomas and Mike was a step behind. Raul was pulling ahead. Amanda passed Stephen Ray the battle for position happened in Turn one of the second lap she had planned out. Amanda smiled it was her version of a punishment lap. She had an evil smile that Coach Noel had seen "Way to keep the guys honest" was his call. The tone of his voice barely contained the laugh he was feeling. The lactic acid was building up each member of the teams legs. The no call for not believing was well entrenched as many began their fourth lap nobody accelerated they had been going all....out. Coach Noel looking at the times was surprised as he realized that Raul might make it. The last of the JV girls came by at 3:20. “As he called out 4 minutes!” he finally had a team that had talent and attitude to match.

BO’s legs were burning everybody’s were. He looked at Raul "Good job!" Tom was direct "Thank you French Fries." Dennis was quiet with his praise. He meant them they were the product of observation and loyalty. The Freshman had heard the tune and while being chased by the two they had been responded. Serg looked at Ace "No Second takes." He smiled.... Amanda had walked a little faster she had been joined by Kimber. Kimber was smiling. Bo had slowed down to join them along with Tom and Dennis. Ace looked at Dennis, Tom, Amanda, and said "Thanks.” As they made their way around they milled a bit drank some exceed. Anna gave the guys all of them a high five and thanked Ace. Tara was happy with her new team new role, “It’s nice to be heading to district on this team.” Kathrine Whe was with her "Glad you came on board." It was time for the 2 minute.

As they went to the line for the two minute period it was Lezlee normally quiet who belted out "Now or never" Coach Bob shouted Go. For a crosscountry team the group accelerated fast. Ace had closed momentarily on Raul then the brute speed of Thomas and mike had hedged. It was just a matter of the second hand making two trips around the watch face and how much more then 1 trip around the track each member of the team could make. Forcing the heart to adapt forcing mitochondria to oxidize all the carbohydrate they could. The guys and most of the girl’s varsity team had wound up doing minimum of 500 yards. Raul was closer to 700.

Ace was feeling as he was joined by Lezlee she was hot petite and curvaceous. Yet has much as she appealed to his lust the team was his concern. Serg was hanging with him then Tara seeing what was going he smiled. Kathrine gave Stephen King a high five. They caught their wind and then it was one last time. Their legs were burning but the only more intense then the burning sensation was unity...from Rosginol to Raul they were feeling the purpose.

The final sixty seconds was an explosion of speed. The goal was to cover a quarter. Raul and Aero did with a few yards to spare. Ace was just short of it Thomas and Mike two and three yards closer. Stephen Ray was surprisingly close.

The group did setups and pushups together. The exceed was consumed fast. They were weary but united. Coach Bob called the team together "This was your last really hard workout before district thanks you keep the work ethic it will happen stay hungry we know what happened to a cocky team thanks get some good food and good rest." The team went there separate ways soon sleep fell on them. For the seniors there would be no regrets. The common thread for the seniors was as sleep took them they all could answer the question could have done anything differently.  The seniors rested in the answer a clear no.  Coach Bob and Coach Noel looked at each other....two Midwesterners one had found Christ the other this years was being forced had in common a team that both were comfortable with. It was hungry yet assured.


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