Posts Tagged ‘Sports’

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LAVS 2016 – END OF DAY 8 UPDATE

Westbrook is coming into a nice breeze and downhill for the next three miles, currently at mile 288. You would think this sounds nice. The breeze yes, but downhill no. His blistered foot will slide around in his shoe while going downhill only to create more friction. Not to forget that downhill is harder on one’s knees and muscles if your are very exhausted and sore. All in all, the downhill will probably be painful rather than a relief. He remains 29th out of 43 screwed runners with 26 miles ahead of him.

BOOK: GOD ON THE STARTING LINE, The Triumph of a Catholic School Running Team and Its Jewish Coach AUTHOR: Marc Bloom                                                                                                                                PUBLISHER/DATE: Breakaway Books, 2004                                                                                               REPORT: If you ever wanted to know just how it is to coach a high school cross-country team, just a regular old team, nothing high powered, the kind of team that is typical of most high schools, then this is the book to read. It will tell you of the life and times of a small team struggling for their identity. While doing that, the identity of the individual as a coach will be clarified among the various tangents contacting this group.

I could identify with the author and his situation being that I am coaching a team that is struggling to find its identity. There are many parallels in the book and my case. I empathized with the author in many situations.

Marc Bloom, the author, writes very well as you will see in his easily readable style. He has written many articles on running and several other books on the subject. His experience with the subject pays off in his work. I have read other works relating the coaching experience, but this is the best.

A unique facet of the book is the spiritual aspects of two different religions. These obvious and subtle teachings affect the coach, the runners, and parents. At times, this causes conflict, while at other times it is the catalyst for success. At all times, it is an item of concern for the coach.

Another interesting and very real conflict is time. The time needed for the coaching and the time needed for family, including an illness of the author’s father, is related by Bloom in a very realistic manner. This is a real concern for anyone who has coached and has a family. Bloom was very astute in relating this throughout the book. He gives us the true picture which requires a great deal of honesty on his part. This one item makes this a great book for upcoming, young coaches to read.

This is not a book to read in order to glean workouts for one to use in coaching their own team. But, there is an underlying philosophy throughout the book that one who is astute enough can see will add immensely to any program. It will give a basic approach and leave a wide range of variation for anyone wanting to pick out information to use in coaching.

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In this story of a New Jersey coastal team, one can follow the tale of the different young men working to mold into a team. The coach guides the various personalities through the high points and low points of the off-season and season. He wins some and loses some. He has doubts. He has disappointments. He has success. He deals with academics, disinterest, disparity, and immaturity. He has a knack of recognizing the problems and has the patience to deal with them. This is an important reason for the success of the team.

Read the book if you like running. It doesn’t matter if you want to coach or just know more about it. Even for non-runners, the book is good in its relationships between a teacher and students, in this case a coach and athletes. You can read it as a very good story, or you can read it to find deeper meaning. Either way, it will be one of the best books you will read on running.

“This is where guts and biochemistry meet. The chemistry has been figured out. Guts are another story.”                                                                  Marc Bloom                                                                                                                                                Commenting on a cross-country race

By: Richard Westbrook

There was a time when I believed that right was the strongest force in the world; and that right defeated wrong every time.  The horseman in the white hat was always victorious over the horseman in the black hat.  Light subjugated dark.  I was taught to make sure I was right before forging ahead, then stick by my convictions, and everything would be for the best.

Time was when I thought I could be the best.  I thought I could win.  It would just be a matter of time.  If I did everything right, worked hard enough, then winning and being the best would be attained.

At one time I thought the world to be clear cut and well defined.  It was easily detectable what was good and what was bad.  Good and evil.  It was pretty easy to determine which was which.  It was as clear as right and wrong.

But, as I grew into the world, blue skies turned to dark clouds.  I discovered that right didn’t always win.  There were forces on the darkside that, at times, were stronger than light.  Good was not always victorious.  Sometimes, good was the victim.

I found that I could not always win.  No matter how hard I worked, I might not win.  Thinking I was right and working hard did not prevent my opponent from being better.  Winning was not always under my control.  There were other forces out there.

I changed as I grew.  I became involved in more and varied pursuits.  That was part of my education both formal and informal.  I learned from a lot of people.  Some of those teachers taught from the church, some taught from manual labor, some taught from schools, some taught from the family.  Whether I realized it or not, learning was happening everywhere.  Living and growing was being a student.

The simple look into life from the simplicity of a child faded.  Things became complicated.  What I wanted to be real truth was but a ray of light into each day.  How much light was determined by things I didn’t understand at the time.  But, more understanding was discovered as I learned, as I grew into the world.

The world gave me people to deal with on a daily basis.  People I had to try to understand.  Some of those people became friends and some became enemies.  Some were just passing by.  Still, good and right and darkness were intertwined in those people.  Discovering which was where was a problem.  Learning to deal with it was a different problem.

Authority was a door I encountered on a more intense level as I matured.  Teachers, coaches, bosses were just a few that presented different problems.  At times, life was less enjoyable because of them, and life was also more enjoyable because of them.  School, college, work, daily life gave opportunities to learn to cull the bright days from existence…to live more in the light than the dark.  But, barriers were always out there.

Change was still happening.  I was alive, and I knew it.  I relished it.  Change was becoming the watchword of the decade when I was in college.  My life grew from the pacific 1950’s into the torrid 1960’s.  I was changing just like everything around me seemed to be changing.

I was latching on to new ideas.  Some of these came from enlightened professors in my classes.  Others came from sources outside the classical educational realm.  I was soaking in new ideas in all the reading I could find.  These reads dealt with educational ideas, recreation, and athletics.  Since I was majoring in physical education and wanted to coach, I was intensely interested in some of these seemingly “off the wall” ideas…because it was a change from the status quo.

Even though there were a lot of things in the 60’s that I rejected, the openness to new ideas in athletics fascinated me.  I had learned the traditional approach; now, I was a child of the 60’s in learning new things.  It was exciting.  It was change.

Time moved on.  The following decades brought stability lacking in the 60’s.  There was less change.  This was interpreted to be a good thing by a lot of people.  I was settled in to teaching and coaching and raising a family.  Surviving in our society.  I became a victim of a changeless regime.  Status quo.

I’m lucky in that I recognized this situation.  I wondered if I would become a fatality of the status quo.  Was I figuratively dying?  I needed answers to questions unanswered.

This scenario happened to a lot of people during this era.  Some buckled; some survived; some thrived.  Those who felt the world had changed too fast and then too slow buckled.  Those who tried to move with the rhythm of change survived.  Those who observed societal changes but chose their personal changes thrived.  They were the lucky ones…or, the prepared ones.  They are the ones who are thriving today as our world once again accelerates change.

Changing fast or changing slow or not changing at all has always presented personal problems to society members.  Within the sea of change, be it fast or slow, is needed a home base, a place of solidarity.  If one has this, then one can face any change that is presented…and, it will be presented.  We hear about it all the time.  The change is perhaps the major stressor in our lives.  On the street, we refer to this problem as “stress.”

Our society is inundated by various methods to deal with this onslaught of change, stress.  We have TV programs that want to teach us how to cope.  Bookstores are loaded with solutions to the problem.  Agencies and organizations exist to help us survive the situation or to survive the problem the situation causes, such as alcoholism, drug addiction, or obesity.  We pay money to buy the secret solution from unproven sources.

It may seem odd to a lot of our society members that our chosen activity cuts to the core of the secret of dealing with the big problem.  Running distance has been referred to “the Western form of meditation.”  The East gave us various forms of introspection and meditation to calm the inner world so the real world could be dealt with effectively.  The West gave us a work ethic that help put our country in the forefront, and gave us individual problems.

In our modern times, the West and our country in particular has given the masses the simple gift of distance running.  This was “jogging” in its earlier formative years.  Now, with our running, we find the best relief from the stressor that change represents. In our running, we have found a way to deal with all the changes our society throws at us in this technological age.

When I go for a run, I again experience a world in which right is the strongest force.  Good is dominant.  Light kicks ass over darkness.  My running simplifies my life no matter how much change is happening.  That simplicity is hand-in-hand with the pursuit of happiness as a life goal.

Running cannot progress if one does it incorrectly.  No matter what, doing it right will cause progression.  Even if one thinks the running is not good enough, it is still right if one is getting better.  “Proof in the pudding,” so to speak.  This correctness carries over into moral bounds.  Running is the right thing for the human body to do.  The conscience is activated through running because of the moral picture of the world that is presented to the runner.

The world of good is opened when I run.  No matter how bitter I may feel starting the run, I see the world as a better place after the miles pass.  I tend to see good things happening and see the beauty in the world around me.  The rhythmical activity causes the brain to tune in to “feel good” thoughts that in turn influence how I see the world.

I am a child when I run.  Running is a seemingly simple action, and that simplicity takes me unconsciously back to “once upon a time.”  There the world is again clear cut.  Happiness is found in the simplicity.  Movement initiates this manifestation.  As miles pile up, the mind is in its base level of existence.  The mind will reduce the world to a simple level.  Running, breathing steadily at an increased rate, muscles repeating the action, the body being stressed in evolutionary means, takes me to a focused level of non-focus to the point that I am living as a human is meant to live.  When I am running, that is easy to see and understand.  It is simple.

That may be why I run.

RW

“Running is the classical road to self-consciousness, self-awareness and self-reliance.  Independence is the outstanding characteristic of the runner.  He learns the harsh reality of his physical and mental limitations when he runs.  He learns that personal commitment, sacrifice and determination are his only means to betterment.  Runners only get promoted through self-conquest.”

Noel Carroll

Day 5 morning check-in

Day 5 morning check-in

Day 5 morning check-in

Day 5 morning check-in

Sorry for the delay on this update……Westbrook seems to be feeling good and doing good. As of this morning check-in he was past Culleoka, leaving Mooresville and almost to Lewisburg Square. He has moved into 16th (15th if the one relay team has in fact dropped out – no more check-ins from them) overall, 12th overall in the individual runners category and 8th overall in the individual/unsupported category. He is doing great and moving up.

Evening update coming soon.

OK, it is here, Vol State 2013. Richard will run the race uncrewed, or screwed, as the race website posts it. The race is a 500K (314 miles). The start is in Dorena, MO all the way to Castle Rock, Ga. The race will start July 11 at 7:30 am.

All he has with him is one small pack to carry on his back while he races for days, similar to the pack he carried last year in the photos below. His plan is to be outdoors the entire time, sleeping where ever he can find a semi-comfortable place. A hotel will come into play ONLY if there are severe storms where he may need to take some sort of shelter.

Richard's pack for Vol State 2012, weighed approximately 6 lbs.

Richard’s pack for Vol State 2012, weighed approximately 6 lbs. Loaded. Ready to go.

All the supplies in Richard's pack (except water) for Vol State 2012

All the items in Richard’s pack (except water) for Vol State 2012

Richard will drive to the finish of the race tomorrow where he will be driven over the course to the beginning.  There is a website for the race if anyone would like to track him while he runs, http://www.tinyurl.com/volstate2013 (Westbrook is number 55 on the map). If not, we will be posting updates as often as we can on here. Once again, he is uncrewed with NO support, as most of the runners are in this race. They are starting with 55 individual runners and some relay teams as well.

Richard with his pack, ready to go, at start of Vol State 2012.

Richard with his pack, ready to go, at start of Vol State 2012.

Old drive-in theater north of Martin, TN in first day of run last year, Vol State 2012

Old drive-in theater north of Martin, TN in first day of run last year, Vol State 2012

Wish him luck, follow his progress, and read the results and his thoughts on the race afterwards.

~ Season Westbrook

By DIANNE BEARD, Sports Writer

Richard Westbrook was traveling down Georgia’s U.S. Highway 441 and made a wrong turn. For most people that’s no problem. They just stop, turn their car around and get back and it’s no big deal.

But what if you’re not in a car?

Westbrook was on a journey across Georgia on foot when he strayed off of Highway 441 and jogged an additional 10 miles.

“It’s different when you’re in a car, but when I got off track, I decided to keep jogging until I hit 441 again rather than go back,” Westbrook explained.

The physical education teacher at Riverdale High School, started the 372 mile trek July 9 and finished on the 15th. Westbrook said that he had calculated how much he could run each day and figured he could finish in six days rather then seven, but the heat was too much.

On the second and third days, the heat took its toll and Westbrook was unable to keep his food down and was forced to limit his jogging those days.

“I jogged more the first day than I did on the second two combined,” Westbrook said.

The heat reached 96 degrees several times during his trip so Westbrook changed his schedule around to include night running.

“I started running harder in the early mornings so I could take longer afternoon breaks when it was hottest. Some nights, I would run until 1 or 1:30 in the morning and then get up the next day at 5 a.m.,” Westbrook said. “I got less sleep than the previous days, but I felt better than I had when I ran during the middle of the days.”

He also said that many of the people who saw him running were concerned about his running in the heat. “They gave me food, drinks, fruit, shade and shelter,” he said.

Westbrook’s dream is to run through all of Georgia’s counties and if he continues the way he’s been going, then he will.

This was Westbrook’s second trip across the state. He took U.S. Route 27 the first time and said that “it was a lot harder because the hills lasted longer and continued down past Columbus.”

Westbrook said that he chose Highway 441 because it is a continuous route and flatter near the end of the journey. Although it was flatter, this trip was made difficult by the extreme heat.

“I will never run in July again,” he said.

Westbrook’s trip, which ran from the northeast to southeast sections of Georgia, began two miles north of Dillard, went through 15 counties, and ended nine miles below Fargo.

Westbrook said that his next trip across Georgia will be Highway 41 which starts in the northwest tip of Georgia and runs south and he feels will be the easiest.

What is it that makes this exhausting trip worthwhile?

“Not only is it a challenge, but it’s like a mini-adventure. I cover geography and see people and places that I have never seen before,” Westbrook said. “It’s easy to travel by car or bike, but it’s unique to travel across the state on foot.”

One might say that carrying only one small bag weighing only 8 pounds is traveling light, but Westbrook said that he wanted the bag containing emergency items and a one-man tent to weigh only six pounds.

Westbrook camped when he could find a safe place and spent the other nights in a motel to “get away from the heat.”

THE WESTBROOK FAMILY HITS THE TRACK L-R Father Richard, Daughter Season, And Son Casey

THE WESTBROOK FAMILY HITS THE TRACK L-R Father Richard, Daughter Season, And Son Casey

“I didn’t eat very much at all. I forced myself to eat at night because I knew that I had to, but I wasn’t hungry, just thirsty,” Westbrook said.

The farthest that Westbrook traveled in one day was 68 miles on his fourth day. He said that “when you’re out there, you have got to go somewhere and you don’t want to go back.”

“Reaching Fargo was the highlight because right before that there were long stretches of land without towns and stores so I couldn’t get any fluids,” Westbrook explained. “I doubted whether or not I could make it, but when I knew Fargo was only nine miles away, I knew I would make it.”

When he arrived in Fargo, he relaxed, ate a good meal and then started back home – this time he drove with his wife.

            A few days ago, my granddaughter found an old 8-track tape in a closet and promptly asked what it was.  After being told, she wanted to hear the tape.  Of course, we did not have an 8-track tape player.  So, it went unheard.

            Then, later in the week, I went to Phiddipides at Ansley Mall to buy a pair of running shoes.  As I sat there trying on the shoes and gazing at the wall covered with shoes, I thought back to the time I evolved from the Adidas Italias to the brand new Nike Cortez.  The difference was like that between night and day.

            I thought about this because the shoes I was buying now were closer to being like the old Italias than they were to the Nike Cortez that revolutionized the running shoe industry.  And, I was buying Nikes.  This reflected a change in the running shoe business.

            The way my mind works brought me to thoughts of technology in today’s world; the way we react to that technology; how we as runners fit into the world of advancing technology compared to the world of basic nature.  My shoe purchase reversed my direction from my recent running shoe trend in that I was going backwards compared to the obvious technology in most running shoes today and in the dominating philosophy of the major running shoe companies…including Nike.  It was like the running shoe companies were backtracking in their design and philosophy.

            This whole bubble of modernization and technology engulfs the runner of today just like it does everyone else.  Still, one of the major appeals of running for many people, including me, is the simplicity of the activity.  As they say, it is a sport that needs only good shoes and determination.  Even in our simplicity, we can see, use, or reject the oncoming technology.  An example is the GPS equipment that can tell the runner where, the distance, elevation, pace, and such of the run.  Just put it on your wrist and take off…it will do the rest. It is there to use.  Just take it or leave it.

            Another major appeal of running expressed by many people is the connection to nature.  This may partially explain why trail running is exploding in numbers.  There are those who run only on trails and race only on trails.  Then, there are those who will hit the trails just part of the time.  And, we have those who never run on trails.  We are speaking here of nature trails.  Those trails through the woods or in the open but are surfaced with earth and not pavement.  We are not talking of the multi-use trails that are paved to accommodate road bicycles, skates, and skis on wheels.  Such a trail is the very popular Silver Comet Trail from Smyrna, Georgia to the Alabama state line.

            One may think that a runner needs to be on nature trails running along with the sound of the wind rustling the leaves of the forest in order to be “in” nature.  Not so.  If you are “out there,” you are in nature.  As soon as the runner goes out the door, that runner is running in nature.  This fits one of Webster’s definitions of nature, the external world in its entirety.  That is nature for the runner.  This does not include running indoors or treadmill running, unless, maybe, the treadmill is outside.

            We, as runners, are active participants in nature.  The runner running in downtown Atlanta is running in nature just like the runner running the Appalachian Trail.  I run in nature when I run my familiar routes in my neighborhood…all on roads.

            One site of nature is no better than another site of nature.  It is just a different nature site.  The runner may prefer the sidewalk in the nature he or she runs through while another may prefer the local park with asphalt and grass trails; while another may choose the wooded trail with its roots and rocks and stream crossings.  All of it is nature.  The difference may be the intensity of the nature setting.

            The intensity of nature would be the degree of completeness of the environment that would reflect the lowest level of interference from man.  The Appalachian Trail would reflect less interference than the Silver Comet Trail.  So, one might think the A.T would be “more” nature.

            This might be true of the common pedestrian through such settings.  But, not for the runner.  A runner’s nature is where the runner happens to be running at the time as long as it is out there.  This is because the runner will be more aware of the setting being run through than anyone else passing through the same.  A runner is able to sense more because running will heighten the senses because of the body and mind’s reaction to the activity.  Any runner can tell of experiences in which their surroundings during the run seemed more intense with color, clarity, smells, sounds, and many other sensations that made the run memorable.  And, this is not uncommon.  In fact, it is so common that we hardly hear or read about the phenomenon as we did in the early running boom days.  It has become commonplace.  But, that doesn’t mean that it is not there and not important to enjoying the running.

            The runner is an athlete.  The runner is an athlete in nature.  The runner relates to nature in ways in which most other athletes can only read.  It happens to the runner in the cities, the forests, the deserts, the mountains, the parks, the beaches, on the sidewalks, the roads, the trails.  The sensations abound.  The senses are on high alert.  The mind is processing everything with more clarity than at other times.

            This makes the runner one with his or her nature.  That nature is anyplace and every place outside.  The runner becomes an animal in nature.  The more the runner feels like an “animal,” the more intense the running experience in nature becomes.  The runner may be unique in reaching this state of mind.

            The true runner has a calling to keep reliving the experience with nature.  This helps running become a way of life.  We runners need to keep our awareness of the experience alive.  We need to enhance our appreciation of the experience.

            On your next run, tap into the colors around you be it city or country.  Listen to the sounds be they city hubbub or forest rustlings.  Smell the odors from the pavement or the trail…see what you can detect wafting through the air.  Relate to the sounds of your breathing and your feet striking the surface.  Be aware of your body’s motion and position.  Let your mind absorb it all.  The mind will give you a high definition picture better than any modern product of technology.

            It will be your picture of your nature.  You will have it, enjoy it, and remember it.  You will repeat it.  Later runs will do that for you.  You will be an animal in nature.  You will be running and be a better person because of it.  If you are lucky, you will even be a better animal.

 Richard Westbrook

 

Next time you go out, solo or with your pack, run with your eyes wide open. Play I-Spy if you have to. Notice the beauty of the moments, the scenery, the company, and the rhythm.”

                                                                                   Kristin Armstrong,

                                                                                   Author and runner