COURAGE OF THEIR CONVICTIONS

Posted: October 30, 2020 by coachwestbrook in Uncategorized

It was an overcast day in northwest Georgia. The event was a high school region cross-country meet for the smallest school division in the state. Nine schools were represented although not all nine schools fielded a full team of at least five runners.

The runners were in grades nine through twelve, freshmen through seniors. The meet held a varsity girls race and a varsity boys race. After those races, a combined girls and boys junior varsity race was held. But, the meat of the meet was the varsity race in which the top four teams and top six individuals, irregardless of their team’s finishing place, qualified for the state meet in early November.

The course was a 5000 meter distance at Georgia Highlands College and good for the spectators to see most of the race. But, the general level of excitement in the runners seemed to be mired down a bit. Perhaps, it was because it was a weekday meet compared to the usual Saturday competitions. There was little evidence of runners “warming up” for the races. They walked to the starting line as if they were going to be punished.

Where were the warm-up accelerations from the starting line to get the blood into the working muscles? Where were the verbal encouragements and support to teammates immediately before the start? Where was the nervous fidgeting, jumping, stretching, drill movements by the runners that usually happens before the starter calls the runners to the starting line????

Nowhere.

The runners were there, albeit in a quiet and repressed mood, and this complacent cloud seemed to hover over the parents and spectators also. But, the meet was about to start with the starter announcing the starting procedures to the runners on the line. He spoke, they listened while standing still and quiet…not jumping, bouncing, running in place.

I scanned the starting line to see which runners seemed ready to race. The different body shapes gave a realistic clue. The appearance of smooth running musculature told a story that the upcoming race would not go well. But, there were runners interspersed on the line with defined leg muscles that were carved by miles upon miles and interval training. Thin bodies were spread throughout the teams, but all body types were represented at the line. How they would do in the race would soon be determined. It would be strongly influenced by their off-season and seasonal training. The real runners would soon become evident.

The others…they would run to survive the ordeal. Some would start too fast because they did not have the proper preparation specifically for that purpose. Some would finish with an exceptional and long “kick” to the finish line perhaps picking up a place or two only because their pace in the previous miles was too slow. They had too much left at the end and, usually, they were too far back in the order of finish.

Overweight runners would find themselves at a slow jog or, perhaps, walking certain parts of the course as would those runners with very little training up to this date. They were scattered throughout most of the teams. Their fitness level would betray them.

Those who had laid down the off-season miles, had disciplined themselves to morning runs, had not experienced “off” days in the season, had enough mileage to support the pace of the race from start to finish…those runners had a better race day that may have included a course PR or a better tactical race. They were THE cross-country runners.

Tall, short, thick, thin, muscularly defined, smooth. That was the appearance of all the runners combined. But, as young runners tend to do, they gave their all in trying to do their best.

They had the courage of their convictions, even if their training didn’t quite measure up to those convictions. They had courage under fatigue…when everything in their immediate world was telling them to slow down, let that runner go, just make it to the finish line, just get this over with for the day.

But, they kept pushing even when they were out-of-sight on the other side of the lake and behind the trees…out-of-sight of the coaches and mom and dad. They kept trying to make themselves a better version of themselves and, thus, a better person. Most succeeded. Some did not. Those successful runners extended their season into November at the State Meet, the “should be” goal of the runners.

Will they be ready for the State Meet? What was learned from this season? What has to be done to make themselves a better runner? What does the individual have to do to make his or her team stronger?

On a cross-country course in northwest Georgia, the answers were found somewhere in those miles. Those smart runners who were serious enough about their running found those answers and will lock them in their minds and hearts in order to be a better runner and person in the future. They will run and run and run. That would be dedication to a goal…the essence of a runner.

How much better? Only the heart and mind can determine that.

(Richard Westbrook)

(Oct. 30, 2020)

THE FINISH

Posted: July 19, 2020 by smrtnsasy in Race Reports
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RICHARD WESTBROOK AT CASTLE ROCK AFTER JUST FINISHING LAVS 2020. (PHOTO CREDIT TO CARL LANIAK)

Westbrook’s final finish time for the 500K (314 mile) (although for RW it was 314 plus approximately 10 miles since he went off course at some point and had to back track) Last Annual Vol State Road Race 9:17:17:42 = 9 days, 17 hours, 17 minutes, and 42 seconds. That puts him finishing at 1:47 in the morning. And for his finishing quote: 10 minutes after finishing he says, “I’m just standing up to see if I can stand up.” Two more runners remain on the road and should be finishing soon. Westbrook finished just in front of the Tortoise and a little ways in front of Oprah and her “clicking heels.”

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RICHARD WESTBROOK’S FINISH TO LAVS 2020 LEAVING OPRAH IN HIS DUST

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LAST ANNUAL VOL STATE ROAD RACE (LAVS) 2020 FULL RACE COURSE OF 314 MILES, OR 500K

228 HOUR UPDATE

Posted: July 18, 2020 by smrtnsasy in Race Reports
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Twelve more hours until the finish cut off time, 0730, Sunday, July 19, 2020. For his last check-in, Westbrook is on Route 156 with 304 miles. YES, 10 miles to go!!! He’s got this! He still has 3 runners behind up, bringing up the rear.

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RICHARD WESTBROOK AS THE BOTTOM RUNNER WITH OTHER RUNNERS AND OPRAH BEHIND HIM IN LAVS 2020

This morning at 0730, Westbrook was at Mountain Mart at mile 291. He reported getting so tired he laid his poncho in some tall grass, laid down and fell asleep. He woke to someone yelling to ask if he was ok. (He told me you never lay in tall grass because you never what is in it and how some runners woke with mystery bites all over them. So…he must have been really tired). He is still on track to finish in time but definitely getting down to the line!

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RICHARD WESTBROOK AT STEVE SMALLEY’S HOUSE, MILE 295, DURING LAVS 2020. (PHOTO CREDIT TO JAN WALKER)

204 HOUR UPDATE

Posted: July 18, 2020 by smrtnsasy in Race Reports
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Westbrook called home again and said he is fine. He was past Monteagle and moving toward Tracy City. He also stated, “I know I am not last.” Right now it is all about the finish. After all this he just has to make it!

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THE 100 DEGREE TEMP IN KIMBALL, TN DURING LAVS 2020. (PHOTO CREDIT TO JAN WALKER)

RW made it past Tracy City with 282 miles. He has two people in front of him to finish, and 5 behind him. Let’s all give good vibes to bring them all into Castle Rock, kiss the rock and be done!

 

192 HOUR UPDATE

Posted: July 17, 2020 by smrtnsasy in Race Reports
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Another call to his wife again last night. All he could find for dinner was ice cream and a coke float. He told her that Coke and Turtle Track ice cream are NOT good together. He had taken a break and said he is back on the road and trudging along. He is approaching Pelham at mile 266. He has dropped to 37th in the screwed (unsupported) runners division. It is getting closer and closer, 2 more days and 4 more check-ins until the finish deadline. The fourth check-in time, you have to be finished, or you didn’t make it. Wish him luck!

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LAVS 2020 RACE COURSE WITH RICHARD WESTBROOK PAST PELHAM AT MILE 266.

180 HOUR UPDATE

Posted: July 17, 2020 by smrtnsasy in Race Reports
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Westbrook is past Hillsboro with 261 miles. One more runner has dropped out. There are 50 total remaining with 39 being screwed. RW is 34th in his division, and 42nd overall.

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RICHARD WESTBROOK AS THE TOP RUNNER IN LAVS 2020, PAST HILLSBORO.

53 miles to go until the finish at Castle Rock, Ga. He may have gone off course and run a little extra, but he is still moving along and will get there eventually!

168 HOUR UPDATE

Posted: July 16, 2020 by smrtnsasy in Race Reports
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RICHARD WESTBROOK AND SHENOA CREER IN MANCHESTER, TN DURING LAVS 2020. (PHOT0 CREDIT TO SHENOA CREER)

Westbrook is currently 34th in the screwed division of runner’s. After making it to Manchester, TN he finally came upon another runner, Shenoa Creer, after 2 days of seeing no one else in the race. All things considered, he looks pretty good. As for this morning’s check-in RW is past Busy Corner at 247 miles. Hang in there and keep moving forward!

156 HOUR UPDATE

Posted: July 15, 2020 by smrtnsasy in Race Reports
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At 3pm it was 95 degrees and a little later at 5:30pm, 97 degrees. Westbrook called his wife again and (of course after I mentioned delirium) he was all out of sorts and off course. He butt dialed her, apparently, and was speaking with a man who told him he was no longer on course and had to back track about 5 miles to Wartrace. I guess he will be finishing a 324 mile race rather than the usual 314 this year. He thought he was somewhere in my town, over an hour away and could not remember when he ate last. Between hunger, the hellish heat, and lack of sleep there is good reason for him not to think straight.

He called again a while later and said he made it to Wartrace and is back on course, found some food, and is going to find somewhere to sleep for a a while. Maybe after that he will be less delirious and know where he is going. Goodness!

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RICHARD WESTBROOK AT MARATHON GAS STATION IN WARTRACE, TN DURING LAVS 2020, (PHOTO CREDIT TO JAN WALKER)

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RICHARD WESTBROOK IN WARTRACE, TN DURING LAVS 2020. (PHOTO CREDIT TO JAN WALKER)

He was late on his evening check-in, might have been asleep. They are tracking him at mile 240, past Wartrace. This will put him in 33rd place in his division (remember though, with additional mileage after going off course). Let’s hope he stays on track from here on out.

RW has made it past Shelbyville and completed 225 miles. He is 30th within the screwed runners. Yay, less than 100 miles remaining! When he rested the other day, he only planned on sleeping for an hour and it turned into two. That put him behind a little, but he needed the rest to avoid too much delirium.

The area Westbrook is in today, the high is 93 degrees with a heat index as high as 97 degrees. There will be some southwest wind around 5 mph.

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TODAY’S WEATHER IN WARTRACE, TN (COURTESY OF WEATHER.COM)