Chapter 6, Blog 3
By Chuck Wells As Told To Ray Hochgesang
The next morning, my training alarm rang at 5:55. I pried open my sleep-drenched eyes and slid out of bed. Blindly out of habit, I pulled off my pajamas, put on my track warm-ups, grabbed my sweatshirt, gloves, Ironman watch and stocking hat, did my 19 stretches and tumbled out the front door. The frigid air whacked me upside the head.
… OMIGOD! What the HELL are you doing …
What a mindless mope I was.
“OK, this is it,” I swore. “No more pointless torture. I will run one last lap as a farewell tour and that will be it. All right? Promise, everyone?”
“Cross my heart and hope to lie,” answered tired-sick muscles and all.
With the Olympic-sized burden lifted, I returned inside and stretched like a good, ol’ rubber band. Even my calves relented, unlocking a few knots.
“Now go out there and run like you mean it, you loser,” said my coach persona.
“I’m not a loser.”
“The hell you are.”
Anarchy ruled. The athlete was in charge. The coach was sent home.
“So long, Coach, ya freakin’ jackass.”
A kid at recess, I skipped onto the street, a prisoner no more, running free. The golden fireball of a sun peeked over the horizon to greet me one last time. Gliding down the street, I reveled in its beauty. My eyes refocused. Everything was crisper, clearer. Rounding the corner by the townhouses, I hit a patch of black ice – and caught myself before I fell.
Instead of cursing, I laughed out loud.
“No more of that bullshit,” I said, halfway to my self-imposed finish line.
… why in the world did you ever start this …
The aforementioned reasons made no sense. Midlife crisis? Could my wife possibly know what she was talking about? Didn’t matter. I felt at peace.
And then IT happened.
From a rounded evergreen guarding the next curb, red, beady eyes glared at me.
The evergreen vibrated, then shook.
And the biggest German shepherd I ever saw poked his head out from behind. His growl started low, crawling on your belly low, then a little higher, then higher …
From behind his evergreen hiding place, he sprang onto my track.
Uh, his track.
He licked his chops. Drooling. Snarling.
BANG! It was a race.
I could feel his breath on my heels.
Over my shoulder, I could see his ears bob.
His jaws opened. Giant teeth flashed.
… HE’S GONNA BITE …
That’s when I found IT. A gear I didn’t know I had.
I shifted …
And left him behind.
Copyright © 2012 by Chuck H. Wells/Ray Hochgesang