The increasingly parochial observations of a casual runner in his fifties. Was "serious" about "the sport" until personal and sociocultural inevitabilities prevailed.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

N.H. Meet of Champions recap

First, if you would rather watch the races in their entirety, with solid commentary, than risk reading reading a bunch of my choleric observations, that's easy (girls, boys). But that's clearly not the case because even the most arrant twits among you don't read this blog looking for glorified agate results. Besides, I have nothing choleric to offer today, although I'm annoyed that my hamstring is sore (if it's not going to heal, I want it to actually snap, loudly enough to be heard 40 feet away and preferably in G minor) and not thrilled about either the end of DST or the long journey back west I'll be starting shortly.

I predicted the top five girls' teams correctly, but in the wrong order (results). Picking Concord over Bishop Guertin was a bit of a reach and was predicated on more momentum than the Tide was likely muster. But Concord still ran a terrific race. Also, I did not count on Coe-Brown's usual number-one girl having unresolved Lyme disease and having to be pulled from the race. That, or something, resulted in Coe-Brown falling behind Exeter. So my 1-2-3-4-5 wound up going 1-3-2-5-4. Of note, the individual winner, Caroline Fischer, also had Lyme disease, which in effect robbed her of half of her high-school running career because her illness went undiagnosed for so long. What a fantastic kid. And now I'm thinking that half the state's runners have been infected with B. burgdorferi at some point, and here I am having spent as much time as possible in the woods in shorts and quarter-socks for the past week.

My boys' predictions were similarly decent (results). Coe-Brown would have won yesterday even if the places of their sixth and seventh runners had been scored. My forecast of an average time of "about 15:40 to 15:45" for their top five was cutting it close, but they managed to thread that needle with a 15:44.16. The Bears are ranked 23rd in the U.S. by Milesplit right now despite having a total enrollment of 700; I'm not sure how I feel about this because Milesplit is awful in virtually every way and will hopefully be gone soon, but they are right to recognize Coe-Brown's 2019 boys' team, and next year they won't have as much discretion because the team is almost certainly going to be even better next fall.

I actually called 1, 3, 4 and 5 on the nose, but I did not count on Londonderry losing one of its varsity runners in an unexpected and probably disruptive way, and they wound up sixth (claiming the last New Englands berth). I also didn't count on Pinkerton running a stellar race, which is fuckin' obvious or else I would have said they were going to, which is the nature of wrong predictions. Pinkerton has been semi-regularly punking Concord for at least 35 years now, and it's time someone bitterly pointed out the school has over three thousand students and therefore should never lose in anything. (I know it doesn't quite work that way, but it's good to have handy, difficult-to-refute excuses on hand to both explain your own shortcomings and devalue the achievements of others.

It remains surreal to me to watch Coe-Brown's Aidan Cox, believed to be one of sixty thousand kids named Aidan in New Hampshire alone and a freshman who looks like he skipped at least two grades, chasing the top runner in the state down the homestretch and then tossing his cookies in a trash can. The one time I puked after a race, it wasn't even after an especially hard effort, and I didn't know if was coming for sure until the initial surge was somewhere in the vicinity of my incisors. Yet there happened to be a trash can there, and I hit it perfectly -- not the opening but the side. Maybe if there were no cans available in finish chutes to vomit in, runners wouldn't have the urge to puke. They ought to start putting porta-johns in the chute area to see if that triggers similarly ignominious outbursts of an even more socially awkward sort.

Apart from the results, the day presented the usual array of faces I was happy to greet but in some cases could not match to a name with the immediacy I would have liked. I got to chat with my first coach, Rusty Cofrin, whose initial season at Concord High coincided with my freshman year and who went on to teach math and coach for about 25 years before brain cancer forced him into retirement. I had a chance to talk pretty extensively with some of the parents (at least three of whom I graduated with) and a couple of the kids. They seem like a nicer bunch than my team was, not that we were bad, but it's weird to consider some of the things we could get away with in the 1980s thanks to simple technological barriers to being caught, like speeding away from cops on snowmobiles at 80 miles an hour up right the middle of Route 132 and watching the police try to plow their Crown Vics through 8" of snow to catch up. Come to think of it, it's probably even easier to do that now, but if they really wanted to catch someone doing that and not just random teenagers cackling and trailing clouds of marijuana smoke (well, not all of us) and worse, all it would take is GPS and heat maps.

I have no special reason to be as pleased as I am about this visit. which officially ends in a few hours. Last fall, when things didn't go my way (which is code for "I pussied out of running a couple of races and then bailed on other shit") I cut my three-week trip in half and came back to Colorado before I started setting things on fire. This time, off the bat, I could have adopted the same ah-why-bother attitude when, right off the bat, annoyances started flying my way. Factors beyond my control kept me from watching the state divisional races last weekend, my hamstring kept me from running seriously, and I accepted even before arriving that I'll probably never see my dad again. 

That was offset by some good stuff that's not suitable for a blog, not because it's tawdry but because I don't have the verbal dexterity to convey exactly how my experiences this week have revitalized me. I seem to be embracing the fact that there are things I simply don't like as much as I used to, primarily because I have gone from mediocre to pitiful, and so it's fucking dumb to even feign aspiring to competence in these areas. Since this is, in the main, a positive post, I figure my plane has at most a 35 percent chance of crashing, because I'm really superstitious about these and other things. In case that happens, here's a pictorial summary of my more public endeavors. (I like cemeteries generally, not because of the morbidity factor, but because they are never, ever crowded in November. I like the ones I find in the woods better because I can invent lustrous false histories about the people they memorialize. I will have more to say about a few of these if I survive my flight.)















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