Get Set …

Chapter 14, Blog 1

By Chuck Wells As Told To Ray Hochgesang


That was the difference between Geri and me.

I saw training as nothing but pain and misery. Something to get through, an evil means to a desired end. Go ahead. Throw in your own trite cliché here. But for Geri, it was spiritual, rewarding – and nothing short of miraculous.

Seemed to me, old school got old for a reason.

In spite of my hard-charging coach, I weaseled a week’s reprieve from racing to train with renewed purpose. With my first dose of competition looming, even those devilish intervals didn’t seem so hellish. See, I was trying.

On race day, I didn’t feel ready, but I had little choice. So at 7:30 a.m. on an overcast but dry Saturday in early April, I awaited my first race in 30 years. My sadistic coach matched me against Valparaiso High School’s current 800-meter champ, Billy Tubbs,

… you have no freakin’ chance, dude …

Geri and Billy showed at the same time. Billy seemed like a nice kid, long, lanky, a natural runner. He stretched easily, doing some of the same moves I saw Geri do. And then, he did some real ball busters.

OMIGOD! Did he!

We jogged a few warm-up laps, chatted. He was mulling going to Purdue, as I had, also for engineering. I told him not to rush it. Enjoy high school while he could.

“You sound just like my dad,” he said with a rueful grin.

… you probably look like him, too …

Geri lined us up, a lane apart with Billy on the inside. She pulled a starter’s pistol from her pocket.

“A starter’s gun?” I asked, startled by the formality.

“You saw the movie ‘Seabiscuit’ didn’t you?” Geri countered, winking at Billy. “It’s all part of my method.”

“Just don’t point that thing at me,” I said and inhaled every molecule of air my lungs could hold, counted to 10 and exhaled. “All right, let’s get it over with.”

“Take your mark … ”

“Just a minute,” I interrupted. “Billy, would you take $10 not to beat me by more than 10 meters?”

Billy smiled. Geri acted annoyed.

“Make it 20,” he said.

“Meters or dollars?”

“Gentlemen, take your mark … get set … ”


Copyright © 2012 by Chuck H. Wells/Ray Hochgesang

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