9:15am. Drinking coffee without caution for there would be an outlet. In the car, turned the radio loud to music not talk. Something with a beat.
There are few things more pleasurable than the anticipation of a race on a fine summerish morning.
I arrived thirty seconds before the race began, scribbling my name on the registration paper and performing the bureaucracy before the coming mindlessness. There was no gun, just a word I guess, for suddenly the crowd was moving and I was with the walkers at the back. I quick-time'd it towards the starting berth.
I was full of running because of its lack the past week or so due to a back ache and so this felt sweetly regenerative and it was all I could do to hold back, not sprint now come what may in the future of this 5k. But I did hold back, I took the first mile easy and began to suspect that three miles would not satisfy. I picked up the pace. We arrived too quickly at the half-way point. This was not the agony planned but a walk in the park.
I could see that I had more in me than the race had left in her, so I continued to pick up the pace and my breathing grew heavier and heavier in the typically embarrassing way that races produce, the sort of intimate noise you wouldn't make except under the drunkenness and euphoria of a road race. Yes, I'm leaving it all out there. Yes this is my best effort, despite the fact we're a million miles away from the leader is what my wordless breathing seemed to say.
The finish line came into sight a half-mile out and it was motivating; faster and faster I went, enjoying the coltish feeling of a fine spring morning as well as the lack of restraint that the finish confers. It occurred to me later that it seems miraculous that (spiritually speaking) some are motivated by the finish line - Heaven - despite the distance that represents. The finish line seemed impossibly far at the start of the race; I could dismiss it out of hand as ridiculously irrelevant. And yet when a half-mile away it became real to me, it became motivating. How do you see the finish line as something cogent when you're just past the starting gate? How do you taste Heaven when you face a long Purgatory?
The last hundred yards I'd settled comfortably into this yearning pace, this maximum speed while still under control. And at the finish, like something demographically choreographed, Def Leppard blasted from the speakers creating a surge of adrenalin almost orgasmic (which I daresay was the intention of Master Leppard).