Sunday, September 17, 2006

A Fast Run on a Friday Night

Twenty years ago, when I was 14 years old, I went for a run with my friends Mike and Dan. It was an early October Friday night. It was a special night, because it was one of only a few events that have happened to me that forms the spiritual foundation that agile was built upon.

Me, Mike and Dan. We met on the corner of our block. We started jogging side-by-side. It was slow, but by the 1/2 mile mark, we were running at a steady but fast pace. Mike was moody, I could tell because he would keep jumping out in front of us, as if he didn't want to be bothered. I'd take a tight position right behind and slightly to the left or right, depending on the turn coming up. I'd position myself in a way that he could see and feel me right there, just to piss him off. Dan was steady right behind us, never really fighting for a lead or asserting his presence. But he was there. He was always there.

Mike and I took turns jumping. The pace was ridiculous. All 3 of us were on our high school cross country team; we ran fast all the time. But tonight there was an edge to that speed. We were moving faster than we usually do. We were 2 miles into what would be a 5 mile run. But there was no thought of pace. There was thought only of each moment, each turn and each jump. And with each turn and jump, the pace escalated.

About 3 1/2 miles into the run, we started turning home. Dan began to fade. It was probably the last time he ever would fade against us; he went on to be the top runner in our state 3 years later. Any other night, we would have moderated our pace to stay together, but as I said, Mike was in a mood, so Dan would be left behind.

Mike and I kept notching up the pace. It was a simple and totally primal game of one-upmanship. It hurt for a while, but then it didn't hurt anymore. It seemed as if the pain was a temporary state that we simply ran past. And it was that state that I will never forget. A state where you come within yourself. Outside forces disappear and feel abstract. You feel and hear your breadth and nothing more.

Except Mike's elbows in my ribs. We kept jockeying for position. It seemed that our speed was so fast that the only way to keep up was to take every inside corner. If not the inside, then so close to each other that our natural strides collided with one another.

With about 10 blocks to go, I was running as fast as I could without jumping into a flat-out sprint. Mike was doing the same. Desperation did creep in now because I wondered, with so many blocks to go, how could we keep this up? But the blocks seemed to only take a few strides to notch. It seemed we could do this. It didn't matter what I thought, we were doing it.

We turned down the last block, our block, and shifted to sprint.

Hands on knees, drop of sweat on edge of chin, Mike looked up at me walking toward him. He was smiling. But I was smiling. He beat me. We were wide-eyed over never having run that fast. More bitter-sweet for me, but sweet all the same.

1 comment:

Mike said...

I remember the story almost exactly the way you tell it. I have no idea why I was moody that night. But I certainly remember the elbows, the jostling for position, the euphoric feeling of not just finishing a little ahead of you, but of having run that fast for that long. I don't think I ever ran that distance at that speed again. And I think that was the last time I ever beat Dan again. Makes me want to take a trip to Scotfield....

About Me

My photo
NY, New York, United States
I'm 34 years old, the proud father of 2 beautiful children and husband to Jennifer, a beautiful, smart, and very caring woman. I'm an athlete - someone that was blessed with the ability to move fast and fluidly past, around, up and over my opponents. But, my body now reminds me that those days are numbered. I'm the Founder of Agile Fitness, a company dedicated to helping others achieve their fitness goals. Resume: - Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist ('96). - Bachelor of Arts & Science, University of Delaware, ('95) - Masters in Business Administration, Baruch College Zicklin School of Business ('01)