A Taste of the College Career: Stephen Does UTSA one last time In college short story by Esteban Erik Stipnieks all Rights Reserved. 

 

It had been emotional. He knew it was his last season running. It was the first race he would be unable to run again after this season. The lease on miracle knee was expired and its owner made it clear...no more.  Linda had greeted him she was running for Purdue. Her girl’s squad would be competing against the Mountaineers Ace's team.  She quipped "You love to hate his course or do you hate to love it."  UTSA for all its mystique was becoming a fact of Ace's life.  They briefly talked. They were running at UTSA. The freshman year they had been no team now his sophmore year it was for Ace one last waltz with an old girlfriend.

The conditions at UTSA were memories…memories of the worse sort. His urine stream confirmed he was on course he made hedge better too wet then too dry on this course. The late summer humidity hung in the air. There was no wind. The black clay was dry as a bone. Ace knew the start had potential for trouble. He had every intent to play it loose he was going to do his hunting the last half of the race.

The instructions were given…..Ace was now in the weird position of being one of the fastest runners on the team he was in the front row of the box.

The gun went off. The plan Ace had carefully crafted and the mental rehearsals and practice accelerations were ignored. The plan went up like a joint in front of Cheech circa 1972.  The first mile had rendered all the thought doobie ash.  The familiar course unfurled before ace the start of the high school and the start of the college was one in the same. Ace was eager and had stuck his foot through the floor. His heart grabbed hold of his mind. The result was passing that was forced on ace and twice he used the full width of the course and had to slow down all of a sudden once scrubbing off speed in the process along with momentum. Ace went so far wide on the outside he went passed a Cedar tree. The first mile wound up being 30 seconds faster then planned. The start had Coach Bob witnessed would have left him screaming “You IDIOT” The second mile saw boredom set in with a slow to a long range pace for Ace and the course as he remembered meant a lapse into less then complete attention on the course. The only high point was cannonball hill first trip. Ace finally processed what was going on. Too eager to see an old lover then fat dumb and happy. So far UTSA had meant some really sloppy running and antics that had not occurred since his freshman year as a high school student. This bled into the third mile where the lack of passing had meant just a long run. Two runners were sighted from Southwestern….Ace knew where he was noticed he was closing. The race was on.

What had been sloppy straightened instincts waking up from a slumber were now fully coherent. Rate of closure decent a slight surge it’s a long way to the finish line but the goal is to get them before cannonball hill. A long circled played out 75 yards had to be eaten in a mile. The lactic acid threshold could be crossed with a toenail. The surge was small but it was effective the lights were on and Ace was now at home. The rate of closure was barely noticeable but slow. The straight another turn, slowly the three quarters of a mile were played out. The knee was once again affecting things….for the worse. The lines should have been tighter but the knee was now longer going to put up with it. Another mile ticked away less then half a mile to the pass point a foot was placed above the lactic acid threshold. The last 25 yards of distance before the pass dwindled surprise surprise Ace was on profile. 10 yards short of crest the runners from Southwestern handed the pass to Ace uncontested. The runners from Southwestern thought they would repass. Ace crested the hill a quick glance he was center no traffic. His long legs extended his weight shifted forward. The instincts were not only awaken but pissed at the slop of the first two miles the last pursuit had been perfect the form for the hill was on as speed built up faster then a tech stock while the bubble was building. The distance between Ace and the southwestern runners exploded in size the long stride the proper form had built up a cushion.

The turn at the base was instinctual keeping some of the momentum while the power behind the stride reflected all the biking ace had done. The situation with the knee meant the perfect line. The end of momentum from the speed the line of course the maintence of the speed was all natural. Raw aggression brute intellect muscle tissue was expanding and contracting at max rate. Force was being generated the Air Pegasus dug into the ground the feet did not slip. The runners from Southwestern were shocked they were straight and level faster then Ace but the cannonball and the speed maintence had been a brutal surprise. Ace was now the hunted with precious little course to play out. Form had played a role perfect form a bed hedged the knee had been saved for the abuse of the hill. The Prehab and all the work in a narrow square track had played out. Ace knew they were faster he had gone full juice right at the limits of it.

Ace’s Coach was cheering Ace his stride now at full extension now maximum stride rate. The runners from Southwestern were closing but the distance to the finish line was closer. Brains and balls were lethal combination when used in equal amounts. Ace was indeed of capable of pulling what he had just done it just had to be done….perfectly. They were now facing a rate of closure as the course diminished. 100, 80, they were going as fast they could but the assistance 60yards , full kick but 40 yards ,20yards ,10 yards ,5,4,3,2,1 So close so far away two feet was all that remained of the distance as Ace crossed the plane of the line.  Ace held them off by inches. Ace had pushed hard once at the base of the hill the long wide turn then the straight it was just a game of laying on the gas and hoping it was enough…..it had been. The heave contained water. Yet Ace had done it. The worst race the best race all in one.

 

Back to Tales Index