Summer runners size you up and shake you down
Peeps get chicked - Brittany Lang, 21, beat 195 runners to the finish at the Greene Turtle 5K on Sunday morning, busting through the Races2Run banner in 18:09. After her win, I asked a characteristically clueless Fredman question, “What does the M on your jersey stand for?” She responded, “Maryland.” I was like, “Oh yeah, I knew that.” Actually, I thought the M looked kind of small, so I was figuring Mansfield State, Marist or Millersville. Brittany, a rising senior for the Terps, owns a PR in the 5K of 16:48 and runs a 5:03 mile. I told 30-year surfer dude Mike Marciano, who placed third in 18:44 but was leading at the mile, ”You had no chance, Mike. That girl went from the Big 10 Championships to the Greene Turtle 5K; she was setting you up.” The great thing about summer racing is you never know who is going to show up and size you up.
Bike to beaten path - Cape Henlopen State Park is a hot zone for critters, and that includes chiggers, except there are no warning signs like there are for rip currents; you are at your witless end, free to go wherever you want. Last Wednesday, I walked the Darby Dog 800, a ground stone trail slightly off the bike path but on a beaten path. I stayed in the middle, careful not to touch even a blade of grass. I’m from the generation that concludes that all skin rashes on a 90-degree day can be diagnosed as “prickly heat” or sudden-onset plaque psoriasis. Three days of feet on fire itching and scratching my butt with two hands when no one was looking, I know those “mites ain’t right” got me decent, and I can’t be the only one. I’m not going back out there until the temperature drops below 45. Google “chigger.” I’m no entomologist, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn when I played for Temple.
Nano Nano - I walk with an old-school iPod Nano and big old earphones that are bent to the contour of no human’s head. Taking photos of hundreds of thousands of runners over my career, I notice that most are not smart enough to run without music (they would be left alone with their own thoughts), so there is an array of rigs; most runners use a wireless system attached to their phone which is velcroed around their upper arm, stuck inside a sports bra or clipped to their waist. Some just carry the phone so they can multitask and take photos along the way. But it’s not smart when running on today’s crowded flyways and byways to not have your wits about you; there are just too many halfwits and nitwits sharing your space.
Softball power rankings - I was following the Senior League World Softball games from the comfort of my office fighting chair and wondered, “Who are the best college softball teams in the country?” I easily found an NCAA website that gave an RPI Power Ranking to the top 297, which all appear to be D1 level teams. Delaware is ranked 167 while Delaware State is 286. Maryland is 134, with Penn State 142. Ten of the top 25 are SEC teams. The Big 12 and Pac 12 are all over the top 25. James Madison of the CAA was ranked No. 9 in the country in 2019. JMU has softball players on the roster, mostly from Virginia but also a sampling from all over America. And how do they find them? Yep, travel tournaments; no recruiter goes to high schools games anymore, that is like “so 20 years ago.”
Sports dietician - I looked up the bio of a college sports dietician, but it was empty, just like her refrigerator. But most D1 sports programs have a dietician or two covering all the sports because young athletes sometimes develop control issues or lack-of-control issues. How many strength coaches have tried to convince young women that morning lifting doesn’t make you fat; it’s those midnight cheesesteaks chased by a bag of Chips Ahoy? But serious young athletes sometimes rebel, wanting the freedom to make their own decisions and to suffer from their own mistakes.
Snippets - Cape’s Meg Bartley, a graduate of Virginia Tech where she played four years of lacrosse, has coached at VT, GW, F&M, GW again, and now she’s taking a year off to decide what she really wants to do when she grows up. Smart people pursue passion. People like Meg don’t just put in time, and she doesn’t have to find herself; she’s pretty much a self-aware and self-confident person. Journey on, Meg Dog. Meg’s basketball running mate Johnesha Warren from 2011, the year Cape went 19-5 and made the state finals, is teaching special education at a North Carolina high school. Little goats are kids, and little kids are GOATs, each the greatest of all time. Armed with my camera, I never compose a child; I just capture them. “Teach your parents well.” Go on now, git!