Chapter 37, Blog 3

By Chuck Wells As Told To Ray Hochgesang



Thanks to “grandpa” stating the obvious, nervous laughter bounced on the track. The starter, who also looked younger and unimpressed, harrumphed in my direction and sent the first heat flying. Friendly Franz took third in 1:47.35, no doubt good enough for a semifinal berth. Out of three heats, the top 16 would advance.

In the second heat, I toed the line. These 20-somethings appeared older, more mature than the others I had raced. And they had huge, muscular calves and biceps.

… steroids …

“Runners, take your mark,” the starter called.

We crowded the line like Walmart shoppers on Black Friday.


Away we darted. My first three, nerve-tickling strides were perfect.

I could not have visualized them any better.

… you’re third! DAMNIT RUN…

At the blend line, I fell in behind the first two.

I could feel hot breath on my neck. I should have run diagonally toward the next turn.

… Harry’s not going to like that …


…. relax, react …

… don’t think …

A grunting Bigfoot pulled even and matched me stomp for stride. I couldn’t shake him.

… enough! Think already …

I inched away.

… think …

… think …

… think …

And I trained how long?

… focus on the pace, no one wins on the first lap …

That did it. My stride flowed. I loosened my shoulders. Deeper I breathed. The quick pace suited me. I guarded third. We crossed the line. The bell clanged.

… easy, easy …

They clipped my heels down the back stretch. But I kept the door shut. With 200 yards to go, I swerved into the passing lane – on the curve. I had to.

… now or never, hit it, Seabiscuit …

My legs lurched into high. I wrested second near the turn’s end. Down the front stretch I chased the lead. But I spent too much in the turn. I couldn’t get him. Another passed me at the finish. I was lucky. I got third in 1:49.29.

Harry was understanding.

“Walk it off!” he hollered. “You got dementia or something? If I told you once, I have told you a zillion times: DO NOT PASS ON THE DAMN CURVE!”

“Yes … boss …” I gasped, sucking air.

“I knew it,” said Harry. “We should have run more races.”

“So … tell me … again … that was … the easy one?”

Copyright © 2012 by Chuck H. Wells/Ray Hochgesang

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