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Coach carvey


Our columnist remembers his inspiration W

hat you are about to read is impossible to believe. I wouldn’t believe it either. However, you know what they say (I don’t know who

“they” are, but apparently they're really smart) – fact is stranger than fiction. Sometimes the person you learn the most from in high school is not a teacher. Sometimes it’s a coach. That was my case. To put it in marathon terms, 99 percent of my teachers were 3:30 performers, while my coach could only be described as a 2:10. His name was Loren Lansbury; of course we called him Coach. Loren was an ex-Marine drill sergeant. You might guess he was rather tough. When he was 40 years old he looked like a 65 year-old Dwight D. Eisenhower. When he was 65 he looked like a 65 year-old Dwight D. Eisenhower! He appeared ageless and timeless until much later when he tragically developed Alzheimer’s. Coach had very fair skin and always sported an old

fishing hat, a whistle around his neck and a nose that was often covered with thick white sun block. He often wore shorts in our school colour, blue, which revealed copious amounts of flaming red hair on his porcelain legs. On his feet he wore a strange brand of Italian running shoes that nobody else had ever seen. I heard about Coach from my two older brothers who

ran for him. A year before entering his program I was a skinny and clumsy runner. I visited Lansbury one spring day while track practise ensued. Noticing that my arm carriage resembled a drunken monkey trying to flag down a ride, he handed me a stick. Here I was, all of 13 years old, meeting this legendary Coach, and he hands me a branch to run with! I held the stick in my hands as I ran, and it helped my arm carriage immensely. My first lesson from the great man. The next fall I began my four years under the

legendary Coach Lansbury. The workouts were not only difficult, but I believe in today’s world Loren would be arrested for child-endangerment. A typical workout would be a 10-minute session around the track at near race pace, followed by 8 x 440 yards with a two minute rest. We averaged around 62 seconds. On the last 440, Loren would utter the encouraging,” All right gentlemen, blood, guts and hair on this one.” If anyone understands the hair part, please write to me.

Then there was the “Three Speed Surprise”. We'd run laps with Coach sitting at the top of a hill with his trusty whistle. One whistle was pace, two blows of the whistle was sprint and three whistles was jog. How long you sprint for, only the whistle knows. Next, we'd repeat hill sprints, six of them up an incredibly steep 150m monster called “The Grinder”, followed by an “easy” five mile run. In the fall of 1969 my younger brother, Dana, decided

to forego the Lansbury torture and instead became a freshman basketball player. When Dana’s season was completed he inexplicably decided to join me on the cross country team. With only three weeks before the league finals Dana ran his very first workout, then went on to be rewarded with a shiny all-league medal and became great life-long friends with his teammates. In the summer of 1970 I was about to enter my final year at Carlmont High School with Lansbury. It was not

Coach would utter "Blood, guts and hair on this one." If anyone under- stands the hair part, please write me.

lost on Coach that we had assembled a once-in–a- lifetime team and therefore he made an amazing offer. Loren invited the entire team to join him and his family on summer vacation for two weeks in the Californian mountains for some altitude training! With beautiful lakes, fresh air and miles of trails, we trained like animals. One of the more memorable sessions was a 16 miler to the top of Mt. Dyer’s 7,500ft peak. There was a great view at the top, but it was short lived when the vomiting started. All the hard work paid off as our team took the first

five places in the league championships and then won the ultimate prize, a national championship. Was Lansbury hard to get to? Yes, he was. Did we train

too hard? Most likely we did. But he gave me a precious gift: after surviving his workouts, I know I can handle anything that life throws at me!

Mysterious Coach Carvey lives in the USA and has never actually been seen by anyone. Investigate him further at:

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