It’s July, the entire Jones family is lounging around the backyard pool talking about a local track meet or something. Not sure why, but somehow feel the need to say, “Hey Gramps! I’d kick your butt if we ever raced.”
He replies coolly, “Well… let’s bet on it then, say a toonie?”
“Done,” I reply. Thinking to myself, I’m going to smoke this old fart. I’m also only eight years old.
Sitting in his black swimming trunks drinking a Budweiser I hear him say, “Ok, right now?”
“No,” I reply, stonefaced. Dead serious, “I need time to train.”
It must have taken all of them an out of worldly composure to not laugh in my face after hearing those words.
“All right, me too. So when?” Gramps replies, also completely serious.
I cockily say, “Next Wednesday, 6 PM.”
It’s Sunday, I’m not sure why I picked that day or amount of time to prepare. But, I asked my Mom that night, our running expert, “You’ll train me right, mom?” She of course says yes.
The next ten nights at 6:00, the two of us jog to the subdivision in upper Montrose to do 20, 50 meter hill sprints. Every evening at 5:55, I’d be out there with my sneakers tied, waiting. Stretching as if I knew what I was doing.
The night before the race I barely slept. The pre-race nervousness probably equivalent to Donovan Bailey before his Olympic races. You would have thought a million dollars was on the line.
Race day, I wake up, eat a huge breakfast, three eggs with bacon and potatoes. I read in Sports Illustrated, breakfast before a big event needed to be high protein and lunch had to be a ton of carbohydrates. Mom makes me both and around 3 p.m. my shoes are tied and I’m ready to go, this race can’t come quick enough. I’m visualizing my victory and thinking about buying 40, five-cent candies with my winnings, my mouth waters, I can almost taste the sour keys.
Around 5:30 I jog over to my Gramps’ house with my trainer (my mom). Trying to keep the same routine as the last ten days, again, reading that routine is key for any professional athlete.
The entire Jones clan is there to watch the, ‘event’. Grandma has even set up red cones to mark the track in the front yard.
5:55 now, and I’m doing my stretching near the start line. So antsy waiting for my Grandpa to show I’d already untied and retied my shoe laces 11 times.
5:58, holy smokes, he still isn’t home from work yet and my anxiety was nearing an all time high.
Let me remind you, this is a 30-meter race against my Grandfather for 2 dollars.
He pulls up at 5:59. Gets out of his car, in his slacks, black dress shoes, and a Hawaiian shirt. He says to me while strutting over, “You ready?”
Not a word, I nod at him coldly. We line up.
My Grandma starts the count, “3, 2, 1, go!”
I take off like a bat out of hell. This is going to be easy!
I don’t see my Grandpa as I’m looking ahead, but he passes me with 10 meters to go. He’s running backwards… taunting me.
Instant tears as we get to the finish line, I hurl the toonie out of my pocket at my Grandpa, then sprint off like I’m Forest Gump. “I HATE EVERYONE! YOU CHEATED!” I scream as I run away.
Obviously much faster than I, Gramps chases me down the block and catches me pretty quickly. I try and hide behind a big tree but he sees me.
“You ok buddy?” He asks.
“No, I hate you, I hate everyone,” I snap back.
“No, you don’t, it’s just a silly race.”
He’s on one knee in front of me now and hands me two toonies, mine and his. My eyes light up.
“These are for you, and hey don’t worry, you’re going to kick my ass one day, you’re only eight.”
He wraps me in a bear hug. “You work and train like that and you can do anything you want to Con.”
Geez, a pretty funny way to teach a lesson eh?