A completely exhausted, overwhelmed mom who wished she could run away to Mexico. Of course, in addition to all this I under-estimated how much time and how much of a change this job would be... making the adjustment even greater. I tend to be an optimist when it comes to how much I think I can accomplish in a day!
It came down to two options: cut something loose or have a mental breakdown and jump off a high cliff. With great sadness, I chose option one. serving as head coach of the Spartans was the only thing that seemed the least bit optional, so I turned myself into an official parent volunteer. Being a control freak and very protective over my Spartans, this was a heart-wrenching decision for me. Roan Johnson stepped in and took over all administrative stuff, and Sheri Cobb stepped up to take over the bulk of coaching duties. Graciously, she let me continue working with the varsity on Tuesday afternoons.
On August 28, BMC hosted its first 5K road race in conjunction with "Meet the Toppers" day. The day was designed to recognize the Topper athletes and raise money for our different athletic programs.
*** Just in case there is a wealthy philanthropist looking for a tax deduction reading this post... BMC is a private, Christian college that tries to keep quality education affordable... but the athletic programs heavily rely on the contributions of kind hearted people!**** (Sorry for the shameless plug!)
The 5K was fairly successful... just like all things, there is a learning curve! I learned primarily that it is good to have your course mapped out and volunteers who know where they are going before race morning!!! We ended up raising several hundred dollars, thanks to the participation of the Spartans!
Who knows how many will participate next year.... Blue Mountain is not named Blue Mountain because it is flat! I hope we didn't scare off the community too badly!
After the race, everyone headed to the gym for games with prizes, lunch, and then athletic introductions. I hate microphones. Hate, hate, hate. This is the part of my job that I despise the most. Public speaking. With microphones. Terrible.
By the time our first meet arrived, things were beginning to settle into a routine. Things were still crazy, but at least they were routine! Life would have been unbearable, except a young lady from our church comes on Wednesdays each week. This allows me to spend a full day in my office, and she does all of the elective subjects plus violin while I am gone.
September 10th arrived. We loaded up the bus and headed for Rome! Georgia, that is! Berry College has one of the largest campuses, and the buildings all look like castles! It was a beautiful place to run, and the Toppers started their season out strong.
Austin finished in the top 15, winning a t-shirt! In college, the level of competition jumps significantly, making t-shirts much more coveted! Tuesdae Rowland also started the season off right... Borsht in the Ukraine for the summer served her well!
While we were in Georgia, the Spartans ran in the Sherman Days 5K. The girls did well, and they were happy that their daddy got to take them to the race.
The next weekend we headed to Nashville for the Vanderbilt invitational. This time I got to take my girls with me! I was thankful for their company! We arrived at the course in time to jog it once through before heading to the hotel. For dinner, we went to a nearby mall where people could choose from the food court options. The girls and I walked around and spent a lot of time in Claire's (trying on hats) and looking at the hermit crabs in Earthbound. On race day, the BMC toppers had great races. Austin beat a particular Union runner for the first time, and Derek almost beat Richard! Tuesdae ran a PR, and Beth took 20 seconds off her time... even though she didn't buy my speech about the course being fast!
After two weeks of racing, we were ready for an off-weekend. Although we did not have to travel to a meet, it was not a restful week... we were preparing for our High School Invitational. The week before the 25th is a blur in my memory. I vaguely remember a crazy amount of trail work, typing in rosters, assigning race numbers, NO school with my kids, counting safety pins, and LOTS of flags and spray paint!
LAST year was the muddiest cross country season EVER. You can look back at pictures and see mud in just about every picture, and I can still remember the smell of sour running shoes in the laundry room. This year was quite the opposite. After an extended period with no rain, courses had been hard caked, dry, and dusty!
The BMC trail was looking good, although definitely primitive... even when dry. We had obsessed over the little tripper roots, painted everything that couldn't be cut, and gone over it with the leaf blower several times!
After months of draught, it rained the night before our meet. Of course it did.
Talk about a race director's nightmare! Our trail was a slippery tunnel of doom, and parking "Plan B" was a failure. We were supposed to have shuttle buses ferrying people from campus out to the course (about 1/2 mile). However, the road was too narrow for the traffic, and one of our bus drivers was late! People ended up walking all the way out there and then back to their cars. Fortunately, there were no broken bones... just a kid with a busted face from running into a tree!
We had a bit of a delay in the scoring, but overall the coaches were very kind and understanding. It was clear which coaches had hosted meets before... they were all very gracious!
This was my first opportunity to see the Spartans run, and they did not disappoint! Hannah ran STRONG in the JV girls race, and it was great to see the JV girls coming together as a team and getting excited about cross country. In the Varsity races, Forrest did very well and stayed competitive throughout the race. Nicholas, Forrest, Jesse, Andy, Josh, Landers, and CaleAs for the Varsity girls... THEY ROCKED the place, winning the meet overall and getting to bring home a trophy!
After the race I was ready to crash. No such luck. Tuesdae, Page, Richard, Casey, and I went to Memphis to recruit at the Twilight run. It turned into a perfect evening for a cross country meet, and it was great to see some runners have fast races.
Insert sigh of relief here. The 5K road race was over. The high school invitational was over. My training plan was completed. Now things really would settle down into a manageable routine.
October 2nd was a remarkable weekend for the Spartans and the Toppers. Union University hosted its invitational, and both teams were there to participate. We drove to Jackson on Friday in order to jog the course and be prepared to run.Hunter, Derek, Richard on the busAfter dinner we made a quick stop at Wal-Mart for some chapstick. Then, it happened. The inevitable... Our bus died.
It didn't just go dead, though. Oh, no, it started smoking... Large billowing clouds of smoke poured from under the hood! I sat staring in a panic, and Richard started calling for everyone to evacuate the bus! "This is not a drill!" We got out, and then rolled/ pushed it down the hill out of traffic.
As we sat waiting on the mechanic, some Union runners pulled up in their jeep. It was like a scene from Grease... They cruise up slowly, roll down the window, and ask, "Do y'all need some help?" (with a completely smirky expression, of course!) We assured them that all was under control, so they pulled off. As we waited on the mechanic, we tried to start the bus again, and it worked! We drove back to the hotel and prayed that the bus would start the next morning!
On Saturday the weather was absolutely perfect. For real... absolutely perfect for running cross country.
The high school races were next, and the Spartans came away with a LOT of T-shirts! They all had great performances also! Hannah ran a PR in the JV 5k... 27:22!
After a trip to Steak N Shake, Starbucks, AND Baskin Robbins, we headed back to Blue Mountain. We had not been on the road for 5 minutes and guess what? The bus started smoking again. As I waited for the signal to turn green, the temp. gauge was steadily rising... We pulled into the gas station, smoking and spraying water everywhere! Coach Driskell asked if there was a lake anywhere and instructed me to just kill it! When the mechanic arrived, you guessed it, the van cranked right up. We made it home just fine... but kept eyes on the temperature gauge the whole time!
October 8th was the MC invitational. In order to prevent early peaking, we did not back off training too much during the week. We drove down to Clinton the day of the race (it was an afternoon meet), and it was hot and DUSTY! All things considered, it was no surprise that the Toppers did not all run PRs this week. However, they had a great day! Once again, Tuesdae and Austin got T-shirts, and the girls got second in the non-D1 school division!Austin and Tuesdae
After MC, we had another weekend off before conference. It was just what Mary needed in order to get her foot healed. However, Magan pulled her quad during speed work, and Nathan got a stomach virus! Not the ideal situation!
This time the boys got to make the trip with us. The school got a new bus, and we got to take it to Jackson. It is huge, and I was nervous! It turned out that it was actually easier to drive than the old bus... I can actually reach the gas pedal on this one! The boys had a good time watching a movie on the bus, visiting with the runners, and staying in the hotel room with me.
The Spartan season was winding down, so we got to have fun at our last week of practice. Tuesday was crazy hair day....
And Thursday was the annual shaving cream fight! I just had to participate!
The weather for conference was good, but not as perfect as last time... windy enough to make a difference in times. The women ran first, and did not make it an easy win for Union. We finished with 3 all-conference women! Tuesdae finished second, Magan showed a crazy amount of determination and finished 5th with a quad pull, and Emma Baxter came out of NOWHERE to finish 7th! Mary was a little disappointed with her race, but she did well, considering she was coming back after two weeks in a boot. On the down side, Ashlee injured her leg during the race and possibly has a stress fracture.
In the Men's race, Austin finished 3rd (first American in the race!), and the men finished 3rd behind Union and Bethel. Nathan's stomach virus came back to haunt him, causing him to run 2 minutes slower than usual. Richard, on the other hand, had a great race and missed all-conference by 2 seconds!
Back at home, the girls ran in Race for the Cure. Sarah had her PR of 23:38, giving her the state 5K record for 10 year olds!
Hannah ran just over 28, which is great, but she was disappointed. They had fun staying with the Johnsons and wearing giant pink hairbows during the race!
That afternoon we all met back up at the Spartan end of the year party. We had pizza and played at the Saltillo City Park. It was a fun afternoon that lasted into evening! It was a little sad, because for the first time we had seniors! I was blessed with many cards from runners, a gift card from all the Spartans, and several hand made treasures.
Cale made me a birdhouse... I love it! Hannah says I am like an old lady with a bunch of stuff in the flower bed, but I like it! I need to get some gnomes next! :)
The Spartan girls started on a secret project for me back at Spartan running camp... they all worked individually on knitted and crocheted squares... different colors and patterns. Then Julie and Olivia stitched them all together into an afghan! I love rainbow, I love patchwork stuff, and I love thoughtful gifts... This is one of my all-time favorite gifts EVER!!!
The Spartans had a GREAT season, and I am looking forward to seeing what these ladies accomplish as they get more mature and stronger!
In the midst of all of this cross country reporting, I almost forgot to mention the UC football team!
Coach Scott Duley had an adjustment season as well. He was saddled with the responsibility of developing a fledgling football program.... This would be a big job at any school, but his task involved bringing 4 schools together to unite on one team. They only had an hour and a half each day for practice, and he was the coach of junior high AND high school! Did I mention fundraising, building weight rooms, getting kids to come out and participate, ordering equipment, making a practice field.... OK, if you know anything about athletics or coaching, you understand what a HUGE task this was!
He has done a great job, and it has been nice for him to be at a school where he can bring the kids with him to practice. (Part of our routine has involved the kids going to football with daddy twice per week.) The UC football team finished the season 5-3 at Jumpertown!
The team doesn't have a mascot yet, so we just call them the "Union County whatevers!!!" So, "Go Whatevers!"