Runner Without A Race

Chapter 34, Blog 1

By Chuck Wells As Told To Ray Hochgesang


Harry spent more than three hours on the phone. He got up early the next day and called some more. He did the same for a week. My coach called everyone he knew on the U.S. Olympic Committee. Then, Harry called the ones he didn’t know. He talked to everyone he could in the U.S. Track and Field kingdom. Many sympathized, but they had no power. The ones with power proved immune to Harry’s charm. He had stayed away too long and had little clout left.

All I had to show for his marathon effort was an Olympic-sized phone bill. As the days dwindled, I still trained, drifting through my Tai Chi. I stretched. I visualized. And I ran and ran. But my heart was not in it.

The visualization part was easy because I didn’t have to pretend much. All I needed to do was rerun my last race – and win it. That I did every five minutes since Iowa. It was the same every damn time. I could have won that race. I would have won that race. I should have won that race.

So why didn’t I?

Did I warm up too much? Was it a poor choice to run only a handful of races? Did that cretin who beat me use steroids? Should I use steroids? Did I need a better pre-race ritual? Maybe different shoes? Maybe a kick in the head as Harry had suggested.

…does it really matter. Just pull the plug …

“You know, I’m really tired of your attitude.”

… you want a lobotomy …

“Don’t go there.”

… in your case, it won’t make much difference …

With less than a week to go before the Trials, Harry asked Times Sports Editor Sheila Beaven, my old girlfriend at the local newspaper, to do a story on my plight in the hope several news wires would pick it up. Can you say long shot? Sheila had a better idea.

“I’ll call my old boss in L.A. and see what he can do,” she said.

A day later, a reporter called. Harry told her the whole story. I talked to her for about eight minutes and said it was nothing but age discrimination. It sounded funny when I said it out loud. But what else could it be?

A day later my story was out there. We got a handful of calls, a few more interviews, but it was a dead end. The window was closing. The Trials would start Friday night – without me.

Copyright © 2012 by Chuck H. Wells/Ray Hochgesang

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