Sunday, September 21, 2008

Great Weekend on All Fronts

Saturday morning started with a Team in Training run, my first long run in two weeks since the bug invaded my body. I ran 1.5 warmup miles to a rendezvous point with the TNT crew, then joined them for five miles, making a few fueling stops. I peeled off at the Music Row Roundabout and headed home to complete 11.5 miles with my iPod cranking.

I felt great the whole way. I experienced some fatigue at a serious hill at 10.5 miles, but lumbered up and regrouped to get back in rhythm. Final time: 1:48:52, a 9:28/mile pace. The accomplishment was welcome after wondering where things stood the last two weeks.

Will and I then headed to Oxford, MS, to watch our undefeated Vanderbilt Commodores play an improved Ole Miss team. We tailgated with our friends the Woodmansees, then watched VU prevail in a thriller. Today, the Dores cracked the Top 25 today for the first time since 1984.

Yesterday, VU started slowly. Ole Miss was poised to blow us out in the first quarter. I looked over at Will, who looked very dejected. I said, "This team responds well to adversity, and I think you're going to see them play well soon. They may not win, but watch them respond."

Minutes later, they made some big plays and eventually tied up the game at halftime. They made key plays late, their trademark, to sew up the game. I think Will is gaining an understanding that football (and life) are longer than one quarter. He's watched his mother battle cancer with courage, and now he's been given another good example how you can respond when things don't look great.

As good as the football game was, the best part of the trip may have been the 200-mile drive to Tupelo and back on the scenic Natchez Trace Parkway, the two-lane federal road through Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi that doesn't allow commercial vehicles. On the Trace, you might see a car every five miles. We saw dozens of turkeys and deer, quite a few box turtles crossing the road, and endless fields of soybeans, corns, sunflowers and other crops. It is smooth, picturesque driving without any eyesores (signs, telephone poles, etc.).

Kathryn and Will ran the season's first cross country meet this afternoon. It was warm, but they ran good mile times on the rolling course - 7:43 and 8:22, respectively, they tell me. I wasn't at the finish line but positioned on the far end of the course. Unlike past years, neither stopped and both combatted their pain.

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