Chapter 42, Blog 3
By Chuck Wells As Told To Ray Hochgesang
The start proved crystal clean, and we slingshot around the turn, sprinting the first 30 meters.
… is THIS the 200 …
I ran ragged.
… focus, man, FOCUS …
The running scrum hit the blend line at 90 miles an hour.
… what place are you, what place …
Everyone pulled away.
… YOU’RE LAST …
A disappointed murmur rippled through the east grandstands as I flailed by.
“Hey! It’s the best I can do!”
… just shut up and RUN …
Near the end of the back stretch, Ralphie whirled his arm like a windmill.
“Da Zolvinski kid’s beatin’ ya!” he hollered.
… even the Zolvinski kid …
“That DOES it.”
I flashed back 40 years to the Games in my backyard when I beat Zolvinski – and everyone else. My legs shook the knots. Through the second turn, I uncoiled.
Harry liked what he saw. He shook his head yes.
My strides lengthened. My shoulders loosened.
But I was still four meters behind.
My back pain flared. But I fed off the pain – and picked up the pace.
Now I was three meters behind.
CLANG! CLANG! CLANG!
… and whom does the bell toll for …
When I entered the turn, a buzz built in my left ear. Exiting, I saw the east grandstands rise as one.
Wild dogs had taken over the home of Steve Prefontaine.
I thought I would burst out of my skin.
Instead, my legs responded and damn near left me.
Luckily, they kept attached.
A runaway train, I switched into lane three and hurtled down the back stretch. The barking exploded into a deafening roar.
I passed one, two, a pack of four more and sliced to the inside of the last turn.
Next in third, guess who.
All arms and legs, Franz cut the air like a fan.
I hugged his heels.
Franz clung to his life-raft lead.
My legs cooked in hell.
Who would give first, Franz or my legs?
… my bet’s on German boy …
I had but one kick left.
If I could pass him … Beijing beckoned.
Forty meters from the line, I veered two lanes wide.
Franz followed, pushing me farther out.
Then he pulled away.
I had nothing left.
The fans saw and understood.
They refused to quit.
With one gigantic yelp, the crowd lifted me.
My feet never touched the ground.
I flew headfirst over the line.
Sprawled on the track.
And out cold.
Copyright © 2013 by Chuck H. Wells/Ray Hochgesang