Cross Country is also....... by Greg Hall

My original Cross Country Is… verse from last year was well received so why not follow it up with a sequel? May all your training runs be as easy as they look to non-runners and your races filled with the sweet aroma of gator exhaust. If not, have a donut.

Cross Country is difficult to explain to your non-running friends. So difficult you have given up trying and answer their quizzical looks with a mischievous grin.

Cross Country is nothing like you thought it would be.

Cross Country is that deep intellectual conversation you and your teammates have with your coach about farting while on an early-morning training run.

Cross Country is a life-long sport that teaches discipline, self-sacrifice and team goals that you will rely on many years after your last race is run.

Cross Country is the post-race treats table lovingly prepared by your parents that silently awaits the ravaging attack of zombie runners brought back to life by bagels, Fruit Loops, bananas and those quickly disappearing glazed donuts.

Cross Country is the parents of the varsity runners hiding a stash of glazed donuts from the freshmen and JV teams so they too have a box of heaven to devour.

Cross Country is where your mind goes sometimes during AP Chemistry class.

Cross Country teaches us that you can catch up to that bobbing singlet in front of you -- but only if you have done the work. There is no catching up on a lost practice.

Cross Country is pools of sweat so deep on every surface of your body that your eyes scream from the salt and your shoes squish and squeak with every stride.

Cross Country is the work you do in the winter, spring and summer to prepare for how happy or sad your post-meet bus rides home will be in the fall.

Cross Country is about hair. Growing, showing, mowing, flowing, stowing, towing and cornrowing hair.

Cross Country is that one coach who thinks they are one of the kids who none of the kids thinks is one of the kids.

Cross Country is losing to that skinny kid with the glasses and baggy green shorts at the first freshman meet and then friending him on Facebook senior year to make sure you stay in touch after high school.

Cross Country is the effort, sacrifice and pain one endures to become the seventh member of the varsity team. And the effort, pain and sacrifice it takes to hold off those wanting to take your spot.

Cross Country is that plaque on the gymnasium wall with the school-record-holder's name and 5K time etched upon it that you think about even on your most miserable training runs.

Cross Country is a fresh supply of potential GFs and BFs with every yellow bus that cranks open its doors at big invitational meet.

Cross Country is that bitter north headwind that would end your winter practice run before it began if not for your shivering teammates at your side trudging forward.

Cross Country is that bolt of pride stirring in your chest when you see your old high school's name on the t-shirts of a pack of XC kids out in the neighborhood on an after-school training run.

Cross Country is a set of parents, bundled against the cold, marveling as their child runs past them with a look of determination they have never seen.

Cross Country is the starting box where all talk ceases and it is just you, your teammates and 3.1 miles of who has best prepared to withstand the pain that is to come.

Cross Country is spotting an attractive person of interest as you race past him/her at the two-mile mark and attempting to look your best -- but failing miserably.

Cross Country is walking the halls of your high school as unknown Clark Kent on Friday and then racing at Saturday's XC Invitational like Superman.