Friday, April 16, 2004

Running Free

I ran the 4 x100 (well, actually, the 8x100) today, for the first time in 10 years.

It felt wonderfully liberating.

It was the college Sports Day and our department, on my egging had decided to sign up for the 8 x 100 relay. Much as I wanted to run, I had my reservations. Thing is, I wasn't sure if I remembered how to sprint anymore. I mean, I can run... I can run at the beach, I can run for the bus, I can run to catch the kids when they're up to no good and I can even run across the road. But could I sprint? I didn't remember, having not run on the balls of my feet since my last race at the Nationals in college ten full years ago.

To make matters worse, we went to Swensons for lunch and we had a huge lunch, thinking that we had to build up strength for the race later. So, we had burgers and KW and I had a huge chocolate ice cream thingy after that. We were all feeling very pleased with ourselves and then we get this frantic phonecall from another runner of the department who was near hyperventilating since the race was about to start and we were no where in sight. That filled us with major panic seeing that we were all sleepy and up to our throats in ice cream!

I don't think I've actually broken so many traffic rules in so short a period of time as I did trying to get back to school in record speed. I'm also quite certain it didn't help with the digestion of the copious amounts of ice cream and oil we had just consumed.

But strangely enough, the minute I got onto the track, I knew what to do. It felt like something from deep inside me reached out and took over. When I got the baton, I just took off and never looked back (that, is a cardinal sin that some of the student athletes hadn't yet learnt). Anyway, we won the race with about 50 metres to spare but better yet, it brought back wonderful memories of running that I had suppressed for the longest time.

Competitive running had always reminded me of the great disappointments in my life. Losing my first serious race at the finish line, tearing umpteenth muscles and having to be sidelined, one of my best friends becoming the next best thing because of the opportunity that arose when I had to sit out, the same friend making it to the national team while I was at physiotherapy. So yeah, I never wanted to go back to it after college, I washed my hands of it and started dancing. Something I could do from scratch with no one expecting anything from me.

Since entering teaching, I've been toying with the idea of helping out with the track team but I've always managed to tell myself I couldn't do much and I didn't like the hours. But today, while watching the kids struggle out on the track, and running myself, I realised that little fiend in me with wings round its ankles is still dying to go out there and still relishes the thought of competitive running. Maybe not my own because I'm old, injury proned and well, let's just say, not all the demons have been put to rest...but of helping others race better.

One of the Phys. Ed teachers asked me about it and I said I would think about it. She asked what my best event was and I sheepishly replied the 400m. She commented that it was a hard race to run and I agreed. I told her something I've always believed to be true. Somewhere after the 200 m mark, when you've got about half way to go and your lungs are about to explode and your legs are about to give out under you, your mind asks you this question "to go on or to give up" and it is at that precise moment whether you win or lose the race for yourself. More times than not, I think I went on, but for the times that I gave up at that point, I think I should get into this and teach these kids that by going on, despite winning or losing, they'll be able to live with themselves and hold their heads up high. And also, perhaps, their husbands will call them jockettes one day. :)

Ondine tossed this thought in at 19:13

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