So there I was, my whole life hanging on my ability to shave 40-some seconds off of my 1.5 mile run in 7 days. For me, this would be as easy as juggling bubbling lava while quoting The Bard in the "original" Cantonese. Yeah, it's just like that. My new shoes still felt new. My new running watch had two runs saved to memory and I was seriously wondering if I had the mental capacity to walk and chew gum (or run and remember how to operate the watch) at the same time. This was about the most stressed I had ever felt in my life. I moved from one state to another for this job, then moved my family and sold my house. Me, my wife, her cat and my Macaw were living in my 5th-wheel in the sticks. It's tight living, y'all. Hell, my mother in law even moved next to us in her own camper. No pressure.
My boss was calling nearly every day to...ahem..."encourage" me. Extended family was calling every day to wish me luck and as about "Plan B". My instructors, from the top dog all the way to the most junior guy took turns taking me aside each day to ask me if I was ready for the run, and if I thought I would make it. The other student's in the class took their turns at me, as well. All of that attention made me humble, angry, frustrated, a bit scared, determined, encouraged, unworthy...pissed.
Thus, Friday morning, the last day of the 11th week of this course dawned bright, humid, just a little cool and completely terrifying. I drove straight to the track, and got there before anybody else. I kept a sharp eye out for one of my classmates; she was going to pace me and call me a "little bitch" if I slowed. She was nowhere to be seen. The instructor/timer pulled into the gate a few minutes later, but my pacer was still a no-show. The other guy running for time arrived, but he was so fast that when he slows at the end of a run, he triggers sonic booms. I definitely wasn't going to be able to run in his footsteps. I was starting to feel very small, but since I have a certain ingrained aversion to quitting, I jumped out of my truck. I put on my War Face and headed for the track. I may not feel fast, but I tried to LOOK like I was going to kick this run in the butt.
Mr Mach 2 and I stretched out a little on the track. Our collective breaths were fogging the air before us. When the Timer said it was time to rock, we took our places. Mr Mach 2 took lane one, I looked down at lane number "this is your freekin' whole life; your dreams riding on the next six laps"...er...lane #2. "GO!"
I went. I concentrated on proper form. I kept a too-fast for comfort pace for the first two laps. Mr Mach 2 lapped me. I lost lap count at somewhere between crossing the line on lap two until I was informed that I was completing lap four. I got lapped again. Timer told me to speed up a little. Lap five found me breathing heavy, but as well as I ever had during a timed run. I had a rhythm going. I flashed back to some of the nice stuff y'all said to me. I chastised myself for not being faster. I wondered if I could have possibly worked harder to make this all easier. I...Mr Mach 2 appeared at my side. "It's time to kick this bastard in the ass, Yogi", he said. He told me to run with him, stretch out, drive the knees, leave it all on the track. I ran in his foot steps. I ran faster than I felt capable of. My breathing was still in time to my foot strikes (what was THAT all about?!). About two hundred yards from the finish line, Mach 2 said "Go-Go-GO!" Say what?! This was a full 100 yards early screamed my mind. I went. I'm not certain where it came from, but I found another gear, and about 75 yards out, I found another. I think my breathing stopped about 25 yards out. I crossed the line with my chin up, chest and hips square, legs churning, arms pumping and knew I had given it my all, even though I had come up short of making my time.
That's when Mr Timer told me that I had finished one second UNDER my drop-dead time. I puked on the football field, and fell to my knees; or maybe it was the other way around.
I think I can come clean now. After that run, getting shot with simunitions, bit by dogs, pepper-sprayed and Tased were child's play. It was all worth it. I graduated with the rest of my class; graduated from the toughest police academy in my state!
I'm still just as old, but I'm faster and less fat. I took a couple of weeks off from running so I could wrap my arms around the tornado that life had become, but hit the road again a few days ago. My first run was two miles. Yesterday, I did four. Tomorrow is speed work down at the High School.
:::stands::: Hello, my Name Is Allen "Yogi" Rothery, and I'm a TCI runner!
Bad Boys; Bad Boys; What'cha gunna' do when Yogi comes chasing you?!