September 22, 2005

10 Questions With Bruce Hyde

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In between career fairs and prelims, Sun Senior Writer Per Ostman ran some laps with senior distance runner Bruce Hyde.

1. I haven’t had a chance to prepare a whole lot of things to talk about, so we’re just going to roll with this on the fly.
Shocking. The Cornell Daily Sun isn’t prepared.
What? You don’t think we do our homework?
Look man, all I know is that the last time there was an article about me, the picture was of a guy not even on the team.
I wasn’t here last year. I had nothing to do with this.
Oh, it’s not your fault. You guys just have staff photographers for home meets, which we hardly ever run. [To sophomore runner Jimmy Wyner, in other room] Wait, what? Just now? Joe just lost $100. In fifteen minutes.
What’s going on here?
Sorry about that. That’s one of our buddies on the team. He plays a lot of online poker.
Yeah, I noticed you’ve got the World Series on the TV.
It’s a rerun. But I think there’s some 7-Card Stud on later.
Can you guys do this? Isn’t this an NCAA violation? Can I even print this?
No, it’s legal, it’s legal. I can play as much high-stakes hold ’em as I want. I checked with my compliance officer. Didn’t we Jimmy? Yeah, I asked Patty Weldon. You can play poker, you can gamble at a casino, but you cannot do sports. No sports betting. I think, even more specifically, it’s betting on college sports.
Wow. I had no idea. I think some of our readers just got really excited.

2. So, is poker a sport?
Oh, man. No. I mean, I don’t think chess is a sport either.
Yeah, I wonder what the VO2 max of our chess team is.
Right, but there’s a reason that the same guys are getting to the final tables every time.
But, as an athlete, are you willing to let so much of the outcome be determined by luck?
I always try to explain it like this: from hand to hand, 99% of it is chance, you know? Like, you can’t control what cards are going to fall or anything like that. But in terms of the long haul, poker is 99% skill. Over the long haul, you’ll win if you’re a good player.
Are you any good?
It’s relative. I’m good for the stakes that I play. I mean, I play online and make money. I tend to do a lot better online than person to person. I’ve been working on that, though. But there are guys that are amazing.
But they probably can’t run a sub-4 1500m.
Yeah, I might be the best poker player-slash-runner.

3. What are you plans after school, then? Is Beijing on the radar?
Yeah, for sure. I mean, it’s tough because if you make the Olympics the measure of success for your career, you can get yourself into trouble. I might run great and I might not make the next Olympic team. But at that point, I can’t consider my career a failure. That’s being a little too hard on yourself, to do that. It’s only going to be three of us going to Beijing.
What event are you targeting?
It’s tough because I love the mile (1500m). But I’ll run the shortest event that I can be competitive at.
That’s hilarious.
It’s true, though. If I could be a 100m sprinter, I’d do it in a second. It’s not even a question.
That’s the best track quote ever.
At a certain point as you go up from high school to college to national class to world class, you get confronted with the fact that speed plays much more of a role even at the same distance you’ve been doing the whole time. So, I might find that I don’t have the speed to run a world-class mile, and I’ll have to move up to the 5000m.

4. Right now, you’re in the cross country season. Do you enjoy being able to turn right every once in a while?
People always ask me that question, like “how can you have fun running?” Look, running’s not fun. It’s not. I don’t think to myself anytime in training or during a race, “Wow, this is great. I’m having so much fun out here.” It sucks! And it’s hard! You do all this work for that brief period of time after a good race where you feel – you know, it’s more of a drug-addict thing than anything else. I’m at the point now where I’ve been running for so long that I don’t even know if I like it, I just need to do it.
This gives new meaning to the phrase “track marks.”

5. Nike or Adidas?
Eh, I don’t know. I mean, if I’m in a position to be running after college –
Are you trying to keep your endorsement opportunities in line here?
Well, yeah man. If I run a little bit faster this year, then I’m really in position to get a shoe contract.
Okay, so Nike or Adidas?
I race in Nike. I love Nike. Yeah, I’ll say that. I race in only Nike stuff and I’ve been doing that since high school.

6. Which is the better Steve Prefontaine movie?
I haven’t seen either of those in a really long time. I used to be this Steve Prefontaine freak, like, a total dork. I have a license plate up in my room that says “GO PRE.”
Yeah, I was a dork. I liked Prefontaine more, we’ll say that.
A Jared Leto fan, huh?
Yeah, he’s dreamy.
Did you see Alexander? The eye-humping was sublime.
Yeah, it’s his eyes.

7. I want to go back for a second to what we talked about earlier, and ask you that if running sucks so much –
Yeah, but it does. There’s a reason why in every other sport, their punishment is running. I mean, let’s be serious.
Okay, then why are you still doing it? Why put yourself through all that? What’s the payoff for you?
It’s kind of weird. I usually answer that question by saying “well, I’m good.” I get a lot out of that. I enjoy being good at something.
But you could get good at poker, and then you wouldn’t have to do all this running around.
I guess running is mostly for the women.
The women?
Yeah, the women. And the rock and roll lifestyle.
I know exactly what you’re talking about. Have you heard from Kate Boyles recently?
Off the record?
Off the record.
I don’t know, I guess I like running.

8. Let’s get into that rock and roll lifestyle and talk about your band. Mad Dash, right? Who came up with that name?
Since my freshman year, the tradition was that there were always two big track parties every year and a track band would open them up. And it was always bad, always terrible.
Track bands? How many bands do you guys have? Is it just some guys with bongo drums, or what?
Right, pretty much. But we got ours together and we started playing the bars. Our first gig was at The Nines. We didn’t have a name, so we told them they could call us whatever they wanted. They were like, “Are you serious?” We showed up and Mad Dash was on the bill. We’ve just kind of kept it ever since.
Are you still playing?
Yep, we had our first show of the year last Thursday.
Do you have any gigs coming up that we can tell the kids about?
I think we’re booked for the Saturday of Fall Break at The Nines. So, I don’t know how many people are actually going to be there.
Don’t go home for Fall Break, Cornell. Stay for Bruce Hyde and Mad Dash, living the rock star life.

9. What’s the hottest women’s team at Cornell?
Man, I told my girlfriend that I was going to have to talk about this.
Is she on the team?
Yeah, I’m completely against track-cest. Can you put that in there? Track-cest?
Sure. And I agree. Every sport with dual teams has something like this, and it’s fraught with peril.
I think once I came back to school, I was just against the whole thing. Except for the whole Kate Boyles thing.
Well, exceptions must be made in certain situations. But this is good, because you’re not going to take the easy way out and say that women’s track is the hottest.
I came up with three ways to answer. First, I was going to try to pick a team that I really wanted to
be in with.
That’s a great tactic, and it’s been used in the past with varying success.
Then I was just going to say the track team, so they wouldn’t get pissed at me. And then third, I was going to refuse to answer the question, but I’d tell you which sorority was the hottest. My girlfriend’s in DG.
Oh really? I used to date a DG.
And you can tell her I said that.
Oh, I will.
Okay, but how about we don’t use any of those options, and you just tell me how you really feel?
Do you mean on a pure percentage basis?
Well, there are exceptions to be made no matter what. Maybe there’s just an exceptional individual that defies the team average.
I’m going to get myself in trouble that way.
You have to take risks every once in awhile. It’s not like you’re girlfriend reads this. I don’t think she’s one of the five.
I mean, I haven’t gotten out much this year, so I don’t really know. All the volleyball girls live around here, but they’re too tall for me.
Well, the women’s soccer team lives right across the street. You guys should just show up. They’d like that.
Yeah, actually –
Look, I’ll just go with the track team. But they’re still not as good-looking as my girlfriend.
Awwwww. That’s adorable.
You don’t have to type that.
Of course I do.

10. If you could have dinner with any three people, living or dead, who would you pick? At any point in their career?
Sure. At any time in history. Like the 19-year-old Cheryl Tiegs.
I’d say Bill Murray, in his prime. Like, the Caddyshack years.
Big hitter, the Llama.
He’s a genius. And then I’m going to go with Winston Churchill. But not because he was a great man and did great things, I really don’t know much about that. I just think his quotes are some of the funniest things I’ve ever heard: “I may be drunk Miss, but in the morning I will be sober and you will still be ugly.”
And then I think probably the last one would be Jimmy Page.
I mean, I’m a big guitar player. I play guitar entirely too much, so obviously he’s one of my heroes.
He’s certainly aged better than Keith Richards.
Oh, there’s no comparison. Wait, who did I just pick?
Page, Bill Murray, and Churchill.
Wow. That’s pretty random.
Yeah, what’s on the menu? Whiskey and pot?
I don’t even know, man.

10 Questions With Per Ostman will appear every week until he gets fired. Complaints can be sent to [email protected].

Archived article by Per Ostman
Sun Senior Writer