Book 2 Chapter 8 Goodbye are Hard Words to Say Novel Tales of the Dead Armadillo a Tale of New Braunfels and Crosscountry Running by Esteban Erik Stipnieks



For the team district was now the big thing for many it was either going to be a stellar start or the very real beginning of the end. Seniors knew it. Ace would be considered alternate to the regional team if they advanced. Ace went to the JROTC and started building ties with potential PT team members. The race that had consumed the team meant nothing in the JROTC center. Brad asked about district. Ace simply said, "The team is on profile to take it even if I am stuck on JV" The retired 1st sergant picked up on some on the tone. The smile in the voice. He made the comment "You sound sure now." Ace replied, "Coach Bob is no dummy he had a slacker proof workout yesterday.” Brad seemed surprised the sarge got the story out out of Ace.  Sarge started laughing when he heard the story.  The flippant attitude of Ace emerged win or lose Ace would get what he wanted.  It was now making news through back channels.  It meant that while Ace would push hard it also meant that fear was gone. It was time to leave for first period.

At lunch, it was Kimber, Amanda, Serg, Ace and Tara. Serg talked how he had to keep Away from the race that was going on behind him. Kimber was somewhat surprised at Ace's reaction. For once Ace was actually relaxing about the guys and district. He was grieving a bit as was Amanda, Kimber and Serg their heightened emotional content was only mildly visible for Tara. Serg said, "It’s going to be nice to go to regionals." Ace smiled..."Even if the course stinks." Serg laughed. The power bars were eaten and bananas along with less then low fat food.

Bo walked to the crosscountry class facing the fact at the most it was two meets left and each of them counted. The freshman had fire. He expected that today would easier. The race yesterday had been interesting Tom was there waiting they had the shortest distance to the science classroom. When Ace arrived, he had a smile on his face much of the team was there and Coach Bob announced the workout and the fact the team would be at Hinman Island the following day. It was going to be an Encino for both he emphized he did not want slacking but this was not a drag race either. The soreness that the team felt would be run out. Wednesday was gong to be a decent workout but nothing like the previous the team was peaking and now it was adjusting the workouts to best success.

Bo walked to the locker room feeling mixed emotions. He knew the team had a real shot at district. Ace was quiet having to change out of his JROTC cammies was more time intensive. The tone in the locker room was confident but not cocky. They changed. There was not too much talk about the fact that this was the last full week of workouts or the fact that the hardest workouts for the team were behind them. It was just the end of their career. The place of lore made the locker room special for Ace. Denton's new campus was void of tradition. The emotion leached and finally Bo said, "Don't do anything stupid today French fries and Raul"

The boys walked out met by the girls behind the school heading for Unicorn stadium. The irony is as the guys and girls talked the goal was as much to enjoy the run even if it was going to be one of the last of their careers. The stretching was methodical as Amanda Cook and Tom lead it loosening up some of the soreness from the fact they had raced the day before even the girls. The number of seniors with ambitions made the girls team not slack lest wrath of a different form happen. Gold was the goal. So the team was a bit sore from the previous days antics recovery today. Seniors also wanted to make this one fun a good honest training run no real competition just a familiar course with dear friends.

Bo took off at a reasonable pace. He had lost track of the times he had done this run. He knew this was his last time doing this run as a training run. District glory would make this run different. He was relaxed running near conversational pace with Tom and Serg. They went down Kentucky and were on the other side of the deep draw that fed Panther Canyon by the house of Kimber's boyfriend. Bo's pace was comfortable a bit fast but he was not running this to set a record he was running it for fun. He came up made the turn and as facing Walnut the long gradual uphill. Bo was still happy about the gold medal for the team last meet and was growing in confidence district would not be the end. He knew the parameters of this run and while elation was high this was not going to be a drag race this was just a simple steady run over 2 miles. He jogged in place while he waited for traffic to clear on Walnut Tom caught up to him and said "Who knows maybe we will run this in preperation for regional’s." Bo responded "That will be nice." He then said "Scary to think only Ace knows what that week is like." They crossed.  Bo in his own way was drinking deep really deep...district was now the next meet. The three seniors ran together finding a common speed as they went down Encino taking in the moment together. Ace joined them. They attacked Laurel Lane's series of ascents together Ace having to back off some to stay with the group. Bo said "I would appreciate it if you took silver on an individual basis." Tom quipped "YOu got us believing now we need to get you to believe." Serg goes "Si vato show your Tejano Pride now you out of the land o Gringo.” Ace chuckled a bit as they turned on Encino and were a whole lot closer to the run. Bo had a smile on his face. Tom was trying hard not to laugh at what Serg had said. Bo quipped "That's as racist as Coach Bob calling some of those runners from Edison Speedy Gonzales." Serg responded "Si speedy almost made Gringos Sylvester and Daffy look like fools." Ace was trying hard not to laugh at that point. They were approaching Kerlick. Ace was among friends there were no other people he would be with and he was in his neighborhood chasing a dream even though the end was like vinegar he actually admitted to himself the wasteland was not so wasted anymore. Their were shoots of Green Amanda and even Dennis. They crossed Walnut together picking the pace up a bit but not too fast. The Freshman had actually done a good run ahead of them as they made a 45 degree turn Bo quipped "We are having trust in freshman to allow us to go out on top." Tom said "Life as a crosscountry runner.” The tone was sarcastically matter of fact. Ace replied "I have seen stranger things happen." Bo responded "No more Denton stories.” Ace replied "In 6th grade would have you have ever figured me for a jock?"  Bo laughed "Good one."  Bo had not seen it coming.  Bo looked at Ace saw a face that forgave but did not forget.  Bo then said "I was a jerk in sixth grade!"  Bo was feeling happy as they hurdled the curb over the parking lot that was off Ohio and made their way back to Unicorn stadium. Bo was sad but he could not have asked for a better end to the season. They went to the bucket of exceed grabbed a cup for their sweaty selves and one for the girls and greeted their arrivals warmly congratulating their sisters and enjoying their beauty. Bo was happy as they all lined up and did sit-ups and crunches together. He revelled in the team acting for a common goal...district glory. He went to the locker room collecting his stuff all things had to end but how as important. The season he had dared not hope for was coming to its climax. Tomorrow one last real hard look at the course.


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