Reconstructing Charlie

March 1998. After a difficult cross country race where we jumped over rocks, broken fences and at one point, a narrow stream, both teams gathered to shake hands. Coach called me aside. “The new cross country coach from Northwestern wants to meet you. My heart did a wild dance. Just what I’d hoped for. As my team watched from a distance, they always kept their distance from me, I blotted sweat from my face and hands and hoped for the best. The powerful woman had the authority of bringing a sport new to NY and she strode toward me, a grin on her face. No wasted motion, her body fine-tuned like the runner she was known to be. Coach always talked about prominent runners and Lynne Riley rated at the top. Well, hello Charlie Costigan. I’m Lynne Riley. I’ve heard a lot about you and now I’ve watched you in action. Your something. Where did you learn to dodge obstacles and regroup so quickly? You must have had a terrific coach early in your training.” What training? You’d run like me if you had dear old Dad for a coach. I jumped over garbage cans, dodged handsgrabing for me, drunks… I just grinned right back like ‘aw shucks and thanks.’ We’d like you to join our cross country team. Practice begins in August bt make sure you keep fit all summer.” She looked me right in the eyes, “and I mean in the best shape.”In one hand she held a list of exercises for me to folloe. I read. A specific strength and conditioning program, focus on hill and speed plus threshhold running. As if she heard my thoughts, Coach Rile said. “Summer is all about preparing your body for the more intense workouts in September. Coach Garrison said she’d work with you. Welcome to our team, Charlie. I watched her disappear in a cloud of dust over the hill.

20 thoughts on “Reconstructing Charlie

  1. Charlie’s previous experiences remind me of when I was on my university’s track team, though not the cross country team. The CC team had a meet in a city park in a bad neighborhood, and gang members chased a couple of the guys right into a pond. I always thought it was dumb of the runners to run away from the gang members, who were undoubtedly just having fun scaring the supposedly better-off university kids. What else were they going to do, rob the runners?

  2. Great use of backstory here, Charmaine. It brings the reader closer to her and makes them admire her strength and resolve. Well done!

  3. Boy, that exercise regime sounds grueling to say the least! I’ve never been one for athletics although I did fence my senior year in high school, and those workouts tore me up, but nothing like what you describe for Charlie! I hope she does well as she steps it up!

    • Charmaine Gordon says:
      July 12, 2020 at high noon. Edit.ege.
      Jenna, my friend, thanks a bunch for your snippet. You covered Charlie’s plans and that is just perfect as she gets ready for just about everything.

    • Charmaine Gordon says:
      July 12, 2020 at high noon in New York.
      Dearest Teresa, You keep track of my Charlie-even at the beginning of her work. Right now, I’m taking care of a problem. Amy is remarkable the way she watches over this mother. Hugs to you from me.

  4. Yay for Charlie. So sad she learned the hard way how to dodge obstacles, yet it came in handy. Best thing her mother did was send her to her aunt & uncle. What a blessing.

  5. This scene reminds me of the year I tried to do cross-country in high school and came in dead last. I was so humiliated that I quit the team and spent the rest of the semester being ridiculed by my former teammates. I should have gone with regular track because I was always better at sprints than distance running. Can’t do either now.
    ~Cie from Naughty Netherworld Press~

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