Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Art of the Bluff

I've blogged extensively about the Tri Rivalry between my nefarious arch-rival, Jim G.

However, there is a sub-contest to the Rivalry: the track sprints. I think I've lamented this last year when we couldn't compete together (and I was crazy fast).

2003 was our first combat: the preferred battlefield is the 400 metre run. This is one lap around a high-school track: approx. 1/4 mile.

And to be far, the nefarious Jim G has owned me on it. He was a middle-distance sprinter in high school and it shows. In 2003, I pulled out an intense 70 second result (try it). He ran 66 seconds. We all thought he would expire: he still claims it was his hardest run in his life. Absolute kudos.

I'm not sure if we ran head-to-head until this year but I have tried to break 70 seconds. In 2004, I ran 72. I think I have run once since then but the time is lost to history.

Fast-forward to this year. The track at the ritzy Clayton high school. Neither our hero nor the nefarious Jim G feel particularly stout.

In fact, we start the Lowball Sweepstakes. When warming up, Jim G claimed he ran a glacial 88 seconds a week before. I maintain that is absurd, but tell him that I'm shooting for a stumblin' 80 seconds.

The bluffs have begun. And both of us are secretly hoping the other is telling the truth. And secretly optimistic that we can do better, because, as I have discovered, it is much easier to think about running than to actually run. In my mind, somehow, some way, I might even breach the mythical 70.

And so, the nefarious Jim G joined his age group, in heat 3, way before my heat #8. He started hot out of the blocks, huffin' and puffin', and lumbered down the back stretch. I watched intently, urging the clock to speed up. I felt good as he turned for home, but as always, there is an illusion: these runners are charging down the home stretch. His time: 72 seconds.

Yes. He matched my 'quick' time from 2004. His bluff has been exposed as a fraud. A psychological tactic geared to mess me up.

In all honesty, it did mess me up. I was stunned, shocked, and saddened, and I had 4 heats to dwell on it before I could do anything.

As my heat prepared, I steeled my nerve. "Let's do this thing," said our hero.

As the horn went off, I started out strong and in the first turn I hit 4th gear. In truth, I would never hit 5th. Too much food and debauchery since February. A hero trades his passion for glory. As I came around the home stretch, wheezing, I could see the clock mock me: 68, 69, 70.

I finished at 77 seconds. Maybe, just maybe, 76. No bluff here.

It was a total rout. Kudos to my arch-rival. As always on the track, he dominates.


ps. We both finished last in our heats.

pps. Note this entire theme is distinct from the tri action. Separate events, separate streaks.

No comments: