Friday, July 30, 2010

An Accidental Kiss (Part 3 of 5)

**Originally Written for the Chat Book, Truth** An Accidental Kiss (Part 3 of 5) - Short Story

Part 1 - The Discovery - July 2nd
Part 2 - The Connection - July 16th
Part 3 - The Acceptance - July 30th (Today)

Through the trees I saw more moving colors. The girls were finishing their first mile. I heard shouts and cheers, the sounds were moving toward me like a crash of a wave on the shore.
“Come on, Kim!” No matter where you were in a race you could always hear Mrs. Fogaard cheering her daughter on. Kim was in 4th. The pack came around the corner out of the woods to encircle the lake again. You could hear the slapping of their gaits change as they ran from the grass onto the dirt. It’s a more definite sound that rings in your ears. “6:18, 6:19, 6:20, 6:21…” Kim was on pace for a 19:42. She could break her PR. The lead pack circled the lake. The color of the trees mixed with their uniforms until they disappeared.
I walked over to Mr. and Mrs. Fogaard who were managing the bake sale for the meet. It was amazing how much food you could sell at a cross-country meet. Runners tend to crave sugars after a run; especially Rice Krispy treats, and home baked caramel granola bars. After a race all respect for healthy foods disappear. Hey, why not? Exploit runners at their most vulnerable.
“Well, look who it is! How have you been?” Mrs. Fogaard gave me a kiss on the cheek and a tight hug.
“I’ve been pretty good. Studying a lot.” I shook Mr. Fogaard’s hand. I always enjoyed talking to them. Over the years we have had conversations about cycling and triathlons, business techniques, problems with the education system and school board; you name it. They still accepted me as a good person. I had made a mistake that involved their daughter but they had forgiven me.
“Kim actually, applied to Binghamton,” he said. “But she really wants to go to Ithaca. I think it rang a bell with her. She really connected to the campus there.”
“Well if she decides on Binghamton I could set her up with the cross country coach.” Kim wasn’t the best runner, but she was good. She could run D1 X-C and Track at Bing. “What does she want to go into?”
“Physical Therapy” Mrs. Fogaard replied. She was a PT herself so I wasn’t shocked. “I told her she needs to focus on sports medicine.” I agreed with Mrs. Fogaard. Kim needed to focus there. That field fits her personality perfectly.
We could hear shouts form the opposite side of the field. The race had come back to the spectator area. Kim was now in 4th. It was easy to spot her. I have never forgotten the efficient glide in her stride, or the way her elbows stuck out from her sides as her arms pumped back and forth. A runner’s form was like a person’s smell. Each had their own.
The lead pack passed the 2nd mile with less runners but the intensity had grown. The pain of cramps, burning sensation of the muscles, and pressure in the lungs had set in. One wrong move could break a runner’s spirits and cost them the race. Kim looked focused and calm. You were trained not to give away how you felt through facial expressions; it breaks the concentration, creates tension, and wastes energy.
“Come on, Kim!” Mrs. Fogaard’s voice never ceased to amaze me. Its vibrations could cut through a deaf man’s head. “Come on, Kim!” The last of the lead pack disappeared once more into the woods for their last mile. A mile that takes more guts than talent.

Friday, July 16, 2010

An Accidental Kiss (Part 2)

**Originally Written for the Chat Book, Truth**

An Accidental Kiss (Part 2 of 5) - Short Story

On September 10th, 2010 I was driving to my high school’s home cross-country meet. Maybe I didn’t have to talk to her. There are usually a few hundred people at a cross-country meet; no one had to know why I was there. In fall of 2006 I was captain of the MHS X-C and Track teams and the OCIAA’s scholar and sportsman of the year. Why wouldn’t someone like me return to support the team? In fact, it was even the truth.
It was as if I was here only yesterday. The park’s grass was overgrown except for the race path mowed down by the maintenance crew. Near the front side of the lake, the tunnel of grass transformed into a dirt path. Sometimes while you are running, you’ll step on a rock sticking out of the dirt as if the ground was six months pregnant. The race wasn’t all on grass, dirt, and cinder. The race starts on a road that runs around the outside edge of the park. It follows the road until a narrow trail appears to the right. You want to be leading by this point or you’ll find yourself fighting flailing elbows, tripping feet, and jagged tree branches. The trail can squeeze a pack of runners
like a toothpaste tube. That outlet of the trail comes out to the grassy field, which follows back to the lake. Spectators line the race path, creating an effect that you are running faster than you really are. It’s a feeling of serene adrenaline that runs through your veins as you fight head to head with the runner at your right shoulder.
From the parking lot I saw a group of girls on the far side of the lake wearing Middie Blue colors. Kim must be in that wave somewhere. I looked towards the field of blue expecting to see her long silky burnt red hair leading her team. All I could see was blue, and flashes of bright orange, green, and hot pink reflecting off shoes left and right. Near the finish line I saw Coach Beam situated in the middle of the guys team giving a pep talk. Aaron was stretching near the edge of the circle. He had incredible natural running talent. At first glance his physique gave an aura of strength, and efficiency: An American Kenyan runner. Mixed emotions fluttered through me like butterflies. He’s the one who exposed me. Though he was a runner of mine and I had watched him grow into a fine young man.
The girls had finally returned and began stripping their warm-ups. Guys joked about if you couldn’t afford playboy, the start of a girl cross-country race was the next best thing. Then there was a migration of spectators from the parking lots to the fields and starting line.
BANG! The gunshot shouted, sending an eerie chill to my feet. I wanted to “go.” I longed to start with them regardless of the fact they were girls; the aspect of racing with my high school team excited me. I watched a rainbow pass by me: Purple and Gold, Green and White, Middie Blue, Red, Black, Orange and Yellow. The colors mixed together slowly. The pace stretched out the individual teams and they all blended together into a tie-dye state. You could close your
eyes and imagine the pounding of their shoes as large raindrops pelting the road. To me, it was such a welcoming sound. My eyes were fixed on the lead runners. As the mob stretched further openings appeared between the once shoulder-to-shoulder group. Kim squeezed out from being boxed and escaped to the edge of the pack. She had been trapped, but now she surged toward the front. Kim reached the lead pack and settled in around 5th or 6th place. Her gait was wide and fluent. Her calf exploded from the ground, propelling her forward, not up. Her knee bent and her heel met her butt before she swung her leg in front of her. Her knee came up, foot perpendicular with the hard ground; ready to hit the ground again.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Originally Written for the Chat Book "Truth"


No body believes in the pursuit of truth without fear as a guide.
No body believes in seeing except for the shallow quandary in question.
No body believes in hearing except for the sound their neighbor hears.
No body believes in smelling except to waft the dangerous scent.
No body believes in touching except when they are told.
No body believes in tasting except for the consensus of the table.
No body believes in the pursuit of truth without fear as a guide.

"It's the hardest thing in the world to believe in something. If you do it's a miracle."
-Steve Prefontaine (Without Limits, 1998)

Monday, July 5, 2010

United States Birthday Weekend

Here I am, sitting in a lawn chair, on the 18th fairway. The bugs are having a feast, 2 boys are enjoying a football being tossed through the air. I am having my doubts. It has been a tough weekend. Though some friends and family have pushed me through this temporary funk.

After seeing some old friends Friday night, I awoke and ate a good strawberry Yoplait to start my brain off. I dressed in some warmups and headed out on the bike. As a triathlete, cycling has made it easier for to warm up properly. I biked down to the bagel store, becoming slightly chilled from the morning dew air. I bought two plain and two everythings. One everything for my mother; one plain for my father; and one of each for myself. The bagels fit into my nap sack with the crumpling sound of the paper bad. The bag actually burned my back. My skin tingled through my zip up, but was a nice change from the cool air. I rode another fifteen minutes to loosen more of my legs. I felt my back was a bit tight but though nothing of it. I rolled into the driveway and made my way between the Buick and Dodge. I unclipped my right cleat and swung my leg over the seat preparing for a flying dismount. The moment my right cleat touched the driveway I unclipped my left. I put more weight on the right which slid out from under me. I found myself in a heap against the asphalt in front of the Dodge. I had landed on my shoulder with the Big gear digging into my hip but felt hot pain come through my knee. It was red, and scraped. I laughed, picked myself up and headed inside. Still lots of preparation to do for the race.

Two hours later I found myself on the starting line of the Great American Weekend 10k. God Bless America played as I took a few last deep breaths. Bang! Something just didn't feel right; maybe my back was tight? Maybe it was that my breaths were shorts? Possibly it was that my arm was sore from that morning fall? Whatever the combination, I didn't feel at all right. I followed the lead pack. We started out quick: Mile 1 5:03. Too quick, way too quick when I wanted a 5:30. I backed off. My feet began to burn. A familiar feeling began in my calves. Slowly, they tightened like a guitar string. My hamstrings started losing their power. I couldn't properly land on my forefoot so I switched to a heel strike to prevent injury to my calves.

Mile 2: 5:53

My calves started becoming sore. I really backed off. I needed to. I had a Half Ironman to worry about in 7 days. No Injury. No Injury. No Injury.

Mile 3: 6:10

I started to coast. I felt a comfortable pace, though my calves felt like exploding. They weren't getting any tighter but they were close to a breaking point.

Mile 4: 6:19

I felt like kicking myself. I blew the race, blew my calves, but hopefully didn't blow the Half Ironman next week. This was only supposed to be a warmup. A 34 minute warmup was becoming a 37 min disaster.

Mile 5: 6:25

I started loosening up. Trying to relax. I could push slightly harder through the last mile and hardest hills of the course.

Mile 6: 6:05

I felt better. My calves still hurt but at least I had relaxed enough to enjoy the last mile. It felt easier. I felt excited that the race was coming to a close.

10k: 37:06

I had finished 37:10 at the far end of a 1.5k swim and 40k bike 2 weeks before this. I had the potential, but potential doesn't produce results. I have to admit I was sorely disappointed in my performance and the way the race unfolded. I had adverted a complete injury though I knew I was going to be sore for the next few days. I needed to start a recovery program to set up for the 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and half marathon run next Sunday. That begins today.

So now that I destroyed my calves, what should I do for the rest of the weekend. I felt a bit down but I got to hang out with my friend Nicole for a few hours. We got some ice cream (I deserved it for mental recovery purposes) and bought some fruit. We also went to go look at a potential car I wanted to buy. A Subaru Outback, Beautiful!

My Aunt Marian came over later on, which was so nice. She is really supportive. I cherish family and all thoughts of my bad race diminished.

The next morning I awoke stiff; a reminder of the events of that previous day; slightly annoyed. But my father and I went to church. A peaceful time. But a dark cloud lingered as I tried to relax at home. A 30 mile ride cleared my head and loosened my legs. My calves reminded me they still ached when I stepped off the bike.

I cooked myself some pasta and watched some of the tour on Vs. After a while, I found myself on the Wallkill Golf Course watching two boys play catch with a football. Carefree. Filled with excitement for the upcoming fireworks: I filled with a funk of cloudiness: wanting peace. A smile crept onto my face as I watched Christina with her family. They were happy, enjoying each others company.

The cloudiness will depart in time, my performance will enhance soon, and this too shall pass away.

Friday, July 2, 2010

An Accidental Kiss (Part 1 of 5)

**Originally Written for the Chat Book, Truth**

An Accidental Kiss (Part 1 of 5) - Short Story

“Come on, Kim, help me with the dishes.” Mrs. Fogaard said this through clenched teeth. She carried a boatload of dishes with the breadbasket in her mouth. I must admit it was pretty amusing. Kim stopped playing with her dog, Brandy, a Newfoundland and a Siberian husky cross. Brandy complimented the Fogaard’s personality: Gentle but strong.
I stood up from the table and shook Brandy’s head. I grabbed what was left and headed into the kitchen. Not a scrap of food was left. As an athletic family the Fogaards had a healthy appetite. They finished what they had and what was left over. The kitchen counters were full of dishes, so I leaned against the wall for a few seconds and waited for space to open up. No sooner did I placed the dishes down, did I get a face full of bubbles. I gasped, wiped the essence of soap from my eyes and counter attacked with what I had been given. The bubbles flew across the kitchen onto Kim’s head. She turned around just in time to get a second attack to the face, fully into her mouth. Kim spit out the bitter bubbles and came after me. I turned to run. Socks don’t work too well on hard wood floors, I slipped, landed on my stomach and felt Kim jump on my back wanting revenge for my well executed throw.
“If you guys break anything, I’m gonna beat you both,” Mrs. Fogaard said. As much as she was kidding she probably would whack up on top the head if we broke a dish, or worse, a bone.
Kim tickled my sides and feet as I laid helplessly face first on the floor. My arms were tucked under her knees and I had no chance of escape. As I wiggled, I must have looked like a caterpillar in distress. I couldn’t take it. I couldn’t breathe. Tickling to me was the worst form of pain.

“Ok, OK, You win!” I yelled laughing and gasping for air between words. I always thought if they used tickling as a form of torture, it could be a very effective technique in the military.
Kim got up and scuttled into the living room. Her show was on: Smallville, Friday July 13th, 2007 : Channel 62, 6:00 PM. She sat down on the curve of the couch. The Fogaard’s couch was about 12 feet long that bent in its middle, encasing the living room into a square. Andy, Kim’s older brother sat on the far side, his head submerged into “The age of Great Dreams: America in the 1960’s” by David Farber. Kim flipped to Channel 62 and was met with a L’Oreal shampoo commercial. I walked toward the TV but made a left detour into the hallway bathroom.
After Kim attacked me, my bladder became angry and needed a quick release. I washed my hands and found Kim, not watching her show but in the back foyer on the phone. Kim was sitting on the corner of the couch huddled beneath a blanket. She had tears swelling, while some rolled down the tips of her eyelashes. “That was Aaron. Tell me the truth. You? Nicolette?” Kim’s face became flushed with blood. I could see the pressures building. She didn’t want to believe it. Neither did I. I couldn’t explain why I cheated on Kim. Was it because I was weak against the temptations? Or not want to disappoint her best friend’s lust? I felt an unfamiliar pressure that pulled my arms from their sides and made my vision cloudy. I couldn’t look Kim in the eyes. Things escalated too quickly and I wanted everything to stop, to give me a timeout. “You just destroyed something that could have really lasted… Just get out. Please Leave.”
“Kim, really, I want to talk to you about it.” I didn’t know what else to say. “Kim, I Love You.”
“Leave, Please, Just Leave me alone!”

I walked out into the Kitchen where Mrs. Fogaard was cleaning the rest of the dishes. “David told us what happened between you and Nicolette. Mr. Fogaard and I just wanted to tell you how disappointed we are.”
I heard a clunk. My heart dropped. I’d rather she yell at me for being a sneaky two-timing whore. Her words hit me with a freight train packed with Guilt and Shame. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Fogaard. I don’t know what to say.” Time mixed with water and oil and seemed to swirl around me.
“You don’t need to tell me that you’re sorry. Tell Kim. We’re just disappointed.”

* * *