I was preparing to write how I’d rid myself of my stupor and was setting my eyes on a target race, which was to be the Tuckahoe Challenge 5-Miler in September. And then I got yet another in this series of “minor setbacks” to which I’ve become heir recently. A bit of speed (tempo) on the track last Friday, and a nice easy run on Saturday. I was cruising along in the latter, wearing my Garmin for the first time in many months (one of our dogs (Teddy) had eaten part of the strap and it took a while for me to get it replaced) as a speed control. I felt relaxed and easy. Out for 4, back for 4. Only at about 6.5 I had a sudden pain in the left quad, which would not leave and forced me to stop. Fuck. Sunday it hit at 1.5 miles. Fuck Fuck. A week off. So I ran again today. Nice and easy. No problem in just under 20 minutes. Who knows?

The thing is that I keep having different things go wrong. There’s neither rhyme nor reason to it. Knee. Quad. Did my switch to a low-drop shoe cause the problem? I’ve not had any of the symptoms one expects from such a change, such as calve and lower-leg strain. I’ve been wearing them for many months. Frustrating.

Not nearly so much I admit as for Flo, who’s been experienced a season, or at least half, of “House” with her maladies. But her most-recent entry includes this gem: “Racing will always be secondary to the activity itself, I love running much more than I love testing myself, but it’ll be a little strange for once to plan ahead for not planning.” Which says as well as anything what this sport is all about. And it’s why TK has been having such trouble with a no-run injury. I’ve been there, years ago, so the best I could do was offer the hope, not the promise, of enjoying “the activity itself” again.

Meanwhile, the Mary Cain saga continues. She was the 31st of 32 qualifiers in the Olympic Trials 800 and was in Heat 1 last night. Four Heats. Top 3 plus 4 fastest made it to the semis. She was fifth in her heat, and did not make it through. Quite a fine performance. She’s been focusing on the 1500 this year, but is probably too far down the list to be among the 30 who qualify for that event. So it’s off to the World Juniors.

It seems that I’ve become something of a poster-boy for the anti-Cain camp, and it seems that there are those who think there is an anti-Cain camp. I’ve seen anonymous comments on LetsRun about her that appear to be from people with some knowledge of things. (I’ve no idea who they are but I am curious.) Some are nasty. Except for one comment in the fall (which simply noted the presence of “tension” on the girls’ cross team), I’ve always used my own name. I’m the kid too stupid to flee when the cops raid the party and so I’m the one whose parents are called. And because I’m friends with someone else, she gets in trouble too.

I heard that the problem was my posts. I looked them up. There aren’t many. And I think them sympathetic to Mary Cain. This is because I am sympathetic. (I do know enough to know that the personality-issues are not black-and-white.) If anything I tried to say that it must be difficult to be a high-school runner without a team. I was a star in a team with many, but none a superstar, although some were closer than I was. My most treasured high-school memories concern my relay duties and my cross events.  The van to and from meets. Warming up in school sweats on the Van Cortlandt flats, looking askance at the kids from the powers that we were going to show a thing or two. Hanging out in the stands after a race.

All that little stuff that one sees hundreds and hundreds of teams experience and that is the fiber for high-school track and cross. In Bronxville seeing members of the teams on long runs along the Bronx River Parkway. Even now, running mostly alone, I relish the times I get to run with a group. So I feel sad for her. Her fault or someone else’s, I feel sad for her. If I had any hope for any usefulness in my posts, it was to get that message across to those involved.

Apparently I failed. So why the bad feelings toward me? Apparently I went “public” with internal issues. Utter nonsense. Turns out that when I commented on Charlie Cain’s statement to a local newspaper/newssite that Mary Cain changed coaches because “said Charles Cain, Mary’s father. ‘She was at a level, I think, where she just really needed that individualized attention.'” and said that this was (a) an insult to her former coach, Jim Mitchell, and (b) a display of arrogance that I didn’t think was appropriate for a school, it was me who made things “public” when I wrote on this barely-on-anyone’s-radar blog.

I received a comment there, as I have elsewhere, from Jerome Kopf, who has insightful things to say about Mary Cain (although I was right and he was wrong about the effect on Mary Cain of a heat on USATF Juniors). Not a peep (including an email), though, from anyone else telling me I didn’t know what I was talking about. I admit, though, that I do not know whether Charlie Cain was reprimanded by anyone for his injudicious statement.

It is said that speaking about her outside the four corners of her performances is out-of-bounds. I write about those performances as a fan of the sport, as people write about Jenny B or Galen Rupp, with the caveat that she’s 16 and has just finished her sophomore year in high school. Things get dicey, though, when others speak about her outside the four corners of her performance. I wrote about her father after he did that. As judges are wont to say, “You opened that door counselor”.

[edited to add: My friend HD sent me a link to a Times article on Cain that I missed.]

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