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Thursday, May 11, 2017

The human joys of running really fast


I’m on record as saying I have the same interest in learning speed reading as I do speed sex. Both activities are something to savor.

The declaration is contrary to my typical outlook. See, I yearn to go really fast. Like cheetah fast.

Not in a car or a plane, circumstances so grindingly routine they’re practically pedestrian.

I’m talking about the human exhilaration that comes from running fast, just propelling your body as fast as it can go with joyful abandon.

When was the last time you just bolted? It feels wonderful.

It’s why I felt envious early this week when I saw speedy Cincinnati Red Billy Hamilton raced from home plate to third base in just 10.58 seconds, about 27 feet a second.

I tried to think how long it would take me to run 270 feet and I figured I could do it in about 10 also.

That’s 10 hours.

First I’d be winded from running 90 feet from home to first so I’d stop to catch my breath and chat with the first baseman about what it’s like to play professional ball and if he worries more about his post-baseball career or catching an STD from the baseball Annies. It would be a long talk. I’d then repeat the whole thing in getting to second, but by then I’d need lunch and a nap.

Sensing I was starting to embarrass myself, I’d give it all I had on my way to third and likely pull a groin muscle and require medical assistance, some liquor and another long nap.

So 10 hours, or about what non-baseball fans think attending a regular MLB game feels like.

Many runners make running look agonizing. Their faces are masks of painful endurance.

I know how to solve this common problem: Never run more than 30 feet at a time.

I know this from ’10 when I enjoyed my greatest racing achievement. I outran 25 Point Park University students who were half my age.

It helped that I was their professor, the surprise race starter and apparently the only one who gave a shit at all about winning.

My class had been invited to enjoy a gala reception with none other than John Grisham. I informed them about the schedule change and said, “First one to the elevator drinks free!”

And just like that I was off. Took me about 5 seconds to run 30 feet. I remember feeling like my hair was going to fly off my head. 

It felt great!

One by one, in varying degrees of evident indifference, my students shuffled down the hall. I do remember impressing one student who said I was a real cheetah.

Or maybe she said “cheater.”

No matter. I was so excited by my victory, I’d forgotten to push the elevator button and we all stood there like morons for almost two minutes before anyone noticed.

The greatest use of speed, to me, is the common goodbye. Few have mastered it.

Most people let the goodbye drag on and on and on. It may seem polite, but it’s truly tedious. It should be just goodbye and go.

It’s why I’ve always admired Waylon Jennings who used to alert everyone he could depart without notice or warning.

“If you see me getting smaller, it means I’m leaving,” he’d say.

And just like that, he’d be gone. I’d say he’d vanish like a puff of smoke, but he was legendary friends with Willie Nelson so it was likely he was on his way to puff smoke.

Maybe it’s a tactic I can start employing right here on the blog.

Write fast and just get the hell out.

If you see me getting smaller, I’m leaving




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