Friday, June 09, 2006

Used to

I used to be a runner! I was swift, strong and agile! I could run down most every one of you people! Now I can't stand up on my own.

When I was about 30 or so I was running on the quarter-mile track when a guy passed me convincingly. Some competitive/runner part of me wanted to keep up, so I ran faster and cruised behind him. This went on for a bit until he picked up the pace, which I matched. I don't know how many times he quickened, but it was several. We ran at least half a mile in this way. My body started wondering when it might quit. When you're a runner pushed to the limit, your leg muscles don't ache, your legs just get leaden, and your lungs don't burn, but you do feel this sense of strain on your entire viscera. It might not even be in your body. Maybe it's behind your eyes, but it's there. You're fit, you're fast, and you have endurance, but this pace is too much.

Then he added sprints. I sprinted with him, matching each of his footfalls with my own, at the same moment. That must have been annoying.

He kept up the astounding pace and kept hitting me with sprints, clearly trying to break me. At first I had wondered whether he even knew I was there, but he was competing with me.

It was grueling. It went on and on. That disembodied sense of doom cried out for me to stop. I didn't. One thing I knew, he was an amazing runner, for an average guy. I didn't think the same of myself, because I knew ... I was gonna break down. Any second now ... just a few more steps ... I'd have to go home ... defeated.

The runner suddenly stopped! He whirled. "Why are you pacing me?!" He was angry.

"I can follow anyone I want," I puffed, trying to sound casual as my lungs passed huge amounts of air.

"I get PAID to do this!" he shouted. I shrugged and walked off the track, knowing that I had broken him, and his feigned outrage was his excuse to stop.

It didn't occur to me until just now that my retort might have been: "Really? Well, can you refer me to someone I can pay to do this? I mean, someone faster than you?"
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