Coaching Memories - Track & Field – Girl’s Track
I described a bit of my experience with the male distance runners on . Female distance runners proved to be as different from their male counterparts as the female shot putters were compared to their male counterparts.
- When I was in Little League, I was slightly overweight and not fast. My dad told me I was big, but I should be fast, too. I ran laps around our 0.3-acre backyard for most of a year. I got faster. In 8th grade, I set the school record for the 100-yard dash.
- There is scientific evidence that white muscle fibers—also known as “fast twitch fibers,” think chicken breast—contract quickly for speed applications. Evidence also indicates that a certain amount of red fibers— also known as “slow twitch fibers,” think chicken thigh—can be converted to white fibers if they are used for speed applications. The converted fast twitch fibers convert back to slow twitch if you don’t sprint.
- I didn’t sprint much after I ruptured the disk in my back at age 18. By the time I was coaching most of my converted fibers had backslidden into their previous state.
- In theory, I should have been a reasonable distance runner.
- I wasn’t.
The girls were after me to run with them during workouts. I put them off for a while. Finally, I asked where they wanted me to run with them. The ringleader pointed to a water tower in the distance.
While I didn’t know the exact distance from the school to the tower, I knew it was uphill over half the way. I told them I’d run the next time they were running a flat distance.
That day soon came.
We start “running.”
I run at one pace.
The girls rotated back to where I was for about fifteen minutes. By then, we were at a fork in the road. They started down the right fork.
“Hold it,” I called.
“How far down that road are you running?” I asked.
“All the way to Campo Road,” they answered.
What they were running was known at that time as “Olsen’s Block” after a very good cross-country runner from early in school history. The block was over six miles long.
“I’ll be turning here,” I said, pointing at the left fork that looped back to the school.
“Okay,” they called and headed off.
About twenty minutes later I made it back to the school’s track. Not all that much later, the lead runners from the right fork arrived.
I shook my head in a combination of disbelief and admiration.
On the days of track meets, the first event was always the girls’ two-mile race. The goal was to finish that race before anything else began. Since track meets are l-o-n-g, every chance to cut some time was appreciated.
One of our meets was on a day when there were no school district busses available in time to get our girl 2-milers to the track in time to warm up and run before the meet began. I volunteered to take our three runners in my car.
I was driving a 1965 VW bug at the time. I’d painted it yellow and had red Naugahyde seat covers put on to match the Monte Vista Monarch’s crimson and gold.
We got to the track.
We won. We probably swept or took 2 of the first 3 places. They were excellent runners.
Once all the distance events were completed, I offered to take them back to Monte Vista.
I dropped them off and drove home.
As I turned into my driveway, the right rear wheel fell off the axle.
It turned out that the cotter pin holding the wheel on was missing.
- In VW’s the axles have holes through them near the ends. Wheels slid onto the axles. A nut with notches in it is tightened until one set of notches aligns with the hole in the axle.
- A cotter pin—upper left photo—is dropped into the hole and through the notched nut--photo below right of the cotter pin.
- The cotter pin is a single piece of metal that is folded back on itself. It has a loop in the end so it won’t slide through the hole in the axle.
- This step is CRITICAL. You have to bend one leg of the cotter pin once it’s through the hole in the axle—far right photo.
- The correctly installed wheel looks like the blue rim shown in the lowest photo.
- If you don’t bend the cotter pin—or don’t install one—the nut loosens over time.
- When the nut is loose enough, it comes off the axle.
- The wheel follows the nut soon thereafter.
- I found the nut in my hubcap.
- I never found a cotter pin.
- I did use one when I put the wheel back on the next morning.
I thank God to this day that the wheel didn’t fall off while driving at 50 mph with the girls in the car.
Next Almanac: Coaching memories – Soccer, the first go-around
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