Chapter 28, Blog 1
By Chuck Wells As Told To Ray Hochgesang
It was March and I could feel myself sliding headfirst into a bottomless pit of anxiety. Breaking the seal on Year 2 of training, I fretted I couldn’t’ qualify for a backyard Olympics, much less the U.S. Olympic Trials. I was running scared – was I becoming stale?
With the temperature hovering in the mid-40s for the past few days, Harry let me return to the Valparaiso High track. I had to. Indoor training sucked. I needed to get out and run.
During the cold months, I had done maybe a thousand 800s in my head, at least 22 of them world-record breakers. My legs felt the best they ever had. They should. I barely worked them. But I couldn’t shake the worry I needed to do more no matter what Harry claimed about visualization. There had to be more.
Harry was concerned, too.
“What should I make for dinner tonight? Dedra’s coming over,” he said, ignoring the obvious signs of my growing angst.
“I don’t care,” I said, stretching my legs into nicely formed pretzels. “Shouldn’t we start ramping up, you know. Maybe do some intervals or something?”
… oh no, not intervals …
“Probably spaghetti,” said Harry. “The girls enjoy spaghetti, don’t they?”
“My legs feel like spaghetti,” I lied.
Harry caught that one. He spun around.
“Have you been running behind my back again?” he snapped.
“No, of course not,” I lied again. Yes, I had been running two miles in my head during lunch a couple of times a week. It was nothing Harry needed to know.
“Good,” said Harry, appeased. The sun peeped over his shoulder. “Perhaps, we should concoct a pre-race routine.”
“A routine?” I blurted, losing the grip on my ankle behind my head. I sprawled forward. “Does that mean …”
“Yes, son, a routine. It is time to get serious,” said Harry. “Any superstitions you care to share with me? Anything I need to work in?”
“Superstitions, Charlie. I am afraid most runners have superstitions,” said Harry, making a series of elaborate gestures with his right hand as he clutched his walker with the left. “Things they feel they must do before a race to be successful. Usually, they are small, insignificant. But they make an athlete feel he has some control over his situation, even when in reality, he does not. Comprende?”
“Sorry, no hablo el espanol,” I said.
“Control,” stressed Harry. “It is all about control. You cannot control the other runners, but you can control what you do before the event. Do you have any?”
Copyright © 2012 by Chuck H. Wells/Ray Hochgesang