Cross Country: A World of its Own

November 11, 2007
You know when you’re driving down the street and you see a group of people running and you laugh at them because they are actually running. Well we’re those people. Cross country runners aren't the football team, the basketball team, or even baseball team for that matter, we're the guys who run miles and miles for fun. Yeah, exactly, crazy I know, we run without shirts on and you could probably count how many bones are in the human body. We can bench a couple sticks, but nothing too serious. Though thin we are we could probably out eat the football team if we had to. We have some serious appetites and have had our training on the proper etiquette on how to eat. During the meals we inhale water like it is nothing - our stalls are never yellow.
People picture runners as wearing the short-shorts, headbands, no sense or color coordination or style and they are correct. We go off running for fun wearing our running shorts (aka short-shorts), headbands (if we’ve managed to get it washed), and shoes that look like they have been through wars. Go to my teammates cars and take one whiff of their trunk or their shoes and you will learn the meaning of stink. Normally we throw on an old “Holy” shirt so that way we don’t have to worry about them getting muddy, dirty, or ripped. It’s fun to watch people in the beginning of the season wearing their nice polo’s and nice shoes because after the first ill-weathered workout they learn that it’s not wise to wear good clothes.

If you are ever on a track and want to tell the difference between a distance runner and sprinter here are some pointers: First, sprinters are usually more built and defined than the long distance runners. If you see someone with clothes on they are usually a sprinter; or if there is a race going on and you see spandex on that runner then they are probably a sprinter. However, if the person you see has little to no clothes on or just really short shorts then they are probably a distance runner; and if you see people out running around and for a period of time over five minutes it’s probably a distance runner because sprinters don’t need as much mileage as distance runners do.
We run in any weather: rain, snow, sleet, hail, thunder, lightning; you name it we’ve probably run in it. The worse the weather during the race the more enjoyable it becomes for focusing on the rain or other inclement weather is much more enjoyable than the pain we’re in. Running and doing a workout in the cold, rain, or both is not enjoyable; don’t ask me what the difference is but I guess mentally you focus on yourself rather than the race. Mud is always fun to race or train in because someone is always guaranteed to go down and get covered; just hopefully it’s not you because the car ride home won’t be fun.
When running it is not proper etiquette to blow your nose; instead we prefer the ritual dubbed the snot rocket. It is a move that can be mastered over time and believe me it’s not easily mastered. First, plug one nostril while tilting the head slightly towards your intended target then blow through your nose as hard as you can to get maximum speed. Success is always a joy, but there are failures in this line of work. Several rockets crash outside the launch pad and make a tremendous mess and must be cleaned up quickly for your sake. Now if you’re beside someone who’s having a hard time breathing and you hear a lot of exhaling through the nostril region you might want to speed away or slow down to avoid becoming their target.

An essential part of being able to run and run well is to be properly hydrated. Some people think energy drinks like Gatorade and PowerAde will help them run but this is false information. Energy drinks do nothing for us but hurt us in a race, unless you like being in extreme pain and dehydrated. While Gatorade does help replenish electrolytes it should only be consumed when the race or workout is over, the sugars make you thirsty. Water is the best liquid that can help hydrate us and keep us running smoothly before, during, and after the workouts. Whenever we go to meets everyone orders water for the most part; it hydrates us and it saves us a $1.50 or so. Carbonation and caffeine should be consumed in moderation. If you drink too much you feel sluggish and dehydrated while running and drinking too much soda in a little amount of time is only good for one thing, the soda mile. This is where we chug a can of soda and run a lap repeat that four times until the race is over. Throwing up is not guaranteed but if we don’t in about a few hours after the race is over we will be hurting and wishing we did. Water, or as we call it H 20, is carried and required in school, home, or even at an amusement park just to stay properly hydrated and to dump it in case of an emergency. Emergencies like someone being on fire or someone being weird and dumping the water on them just for spite.

The night before a meet we eat carbohydrates which will help us have plenty of energy to perform well; in other words that’s just our excuse to eat a lot of food. Usually every Friday someone volunteers their house to hold a spaghetti dinner in which each class group of freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors each have to bring a certain item for the meal. The house makes the spaghetti, sauce, meatballs, and provides plates and other essentials we need to eat. We all gather around one persons house/yard and eat all of the pabulum and drink all the nectar till there’s not a drop left.
Following the dinner we have some sort of game waiting: usually ultimate Frisbee, World Cup Soccer, or Rubik’s Cubing. All games get very intense, upsets happen, underdogs are victorious, and the Cinderella Story becomes a reality. Fame is brought to the winning team, as Nike, Adidas, Reebok, Footlocker, and other big name companies request our skills to market us.

Once a season there is a tradition with the spaghetti dinner that my Dad hosts for the team called Truggers Night. Truggers Night is a joyous occasion like Hanukkah or Weasel Stomping Day. We are all joined at an elongated table that unites the team as one like King Arthur’s Round Table except ours isn’t round at all. That night my Dad explains the history of how this arose and why we are going to do it, this is a dinner of etiquette and manners. Some of these rules are: you must say please and thank you upon request and service, eat the main course with your hands, and dessert only with your mouth, cups you can only use your mouth too. Failure to do this, will result in punishment, at a point in time we will request infractions, mistakes you have made, and for every infraction you get a hand wiped upon your shirt, three infractions equals a whirly, where you wipe your hands in the persons hair. After someone commits the punishment on another they are then excused to wash your hands thoroughly, mind you we are serving and passing food with our hands, sauce being the big one. Once the dinner has fully finished and most the people are covered in sauce and dessert we proceed to a photo opportunity and upon completion it usually turns into an all out food fight in which all “hello” breaks loose. This fun night brings everyone together to make a closer bonded team.

Cross country kids just want to have fun, oh cross country kids want to have fun. Yes, we may look weird, do weird things, have unique weapons of choice, and have strange hobbies but that’s what makes us different from everyone else. We may not follow the social norm and do all that everyone else does but we still have fun. We like football, soccer, monopoly, driving, and doing crazy things like everyone else; we still go out on weekends to watch movies like you all, we just have more adventures along way. Don’t think we are from another planet; we just do things our way. I hope you will understand that we are just like you even if we look like aliens and will get to know us and respect us and our sport more.

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