Volume 2, Number 6 -- June, 1997

Buy a Damned T-Shirt!

The Professor On Running Fast...
By The Professor

The Professor had some idle time on his hands over the weekend, what with the NHL and NBA playoffs having been all but decided and Major League Baseball having entered that June too-late-to-be-early/too-soon-to-really-matter time frame, and found himself surfing the channels in search of some sporting entertainment that did not feature Tiger Woods. (Not that I dislike Tiger, mind you, just that I can't stomach golf.)
What I settled on was some sort of collegiate track meet on NBC. Having tired of Bassmasters and old World's Strongest Man reruns, I tossed the remote control to the cat and settled back to watch people with no body fat run really fast.
Track is a very odd sport, when you think about it. Most sports tend to require a certain amount of physical exertion, but it's always secondary to the main objective. Put the ball in the hole, carry the ball across the line, knock the man out, throw the ball, hit the ball, kick the ball, catch the ball. All of these things may, from time to time, require you (the athlete) to run down the court or up the field or around the bases or into the gap or where-ever it is you need to get to quickly.
The difference is, in all those other sports (read: REAL sports), the running is secondary to the actual goal, and the less you do of it the better. In track, running IS the actual goal, and everyone does the same amount of it no matter how fast they go.
Sure, Michael Johnson can run 200 meters in ... what, 5 seconds? Big deal! So he ran it faster than everyone else. Everyone who ran that race with him still finished, sooner or later. Maybe if they played defense it would be more interesting.
"Michael Johnson moves into the lead and starts to pull away from... OH! He's been tackled! Tackled from behind by the young runner from Latvia, I can't see his number, but what a hit he put on Johnson! You know he's gonna feel that tomorr ... Wait! Johnson's up! He's up and he's dragging the Latvian toward the finish line as he tries to overtake the East German runner who is involved in a scuffle with the runners from Bulgaria and Paraguay and ... OH! A knee to the groin and here come the benches!)
See? Wouldn't that be far more interesting. I'll tell ya, what track needs is fewer Donovan Baileys and more Ulf Samuelsons.
Note to Donovan Bailey: Great, you beat Michael Johnson in the 150. He still gets to go home to the U.S. and you have to go back to Canada. I think we all know who the real winner here is.)
Now, I know you're saying to yourself, "I wonder what it would be like to have sex with Terry Hatcher." I know this because our research shows that 95% of our readers are men and the other 5% are women who would like to have sex with Terry Hatcher. The answer to your question is, "Probably pretty great. For you, not so much for her."
Back to track. Believe it or not, the Professor used to run track way back in high school. Mile, two-mile, long jump. He was pretty good too, if he does say so himself, though he never would, humble as he is. But if he were to say so, he wouldn't be lying, and it wouldn't be like he was wallowing in his past glories in an effort to come to grips with the harsh reality that he is now little more than a pathetic, aging, pot-bellied, well-on-his-way-to middle-aged man whose hair has, for whatever reason, decided to relocate from his head to his ears and who compensates for these shortcomings by being an absolute sexual dynamo (Terry Hatcher, are you reading this?).
No, he would not be doing that. But the Professor does remember what it was like to run track. To pit oneself against his peers in a contest of muscle and sinew against muscle and sinew. To push oneself to the limits of one's speed and endurance and beyond, running farther and faster than ever before simply because the other guy is still a step in front and beginning to weaken. The Professor knows the surge of adrenaline as he comes out of that final turn and there's nothing between him and the finish line but you and you're fading fast. He knows the feeling of exhilaration as, stride by stride, he reels you in, pulling up along side and just hanging there for a moment or two, just enough to make you think you can hold him off and then, he grabs that extra gear that even he didn't know he had and pulls away, leaving you sucking his exhaust.
Oh, yes. The Professor knows the feeling of a well-run race. The Professor knows that it F&$#ing hurts!
The taste of blood in your mouth, the way your lungs ache for hours afterward (no matter how many cigarettes you smoke to alleviate the pain), the way your spit clings to your lip until you pull it away with your finger and then it clings to your finger. All this so you can end up ... exactly where you started. You didn't actually go anywhere.
And then, to top it all off, your coach, who himself weighs approximately 600 pounds and hasn't run more than a step since he heard they were giving away free brownies in the school cafeteria, walks up to you and says, "Not bad. We can still shave a few seconds off if we work on blah blah blah..."
To be honest, I never heard the rest of it because I was too focused on trying to lift my arms so I could strangle the bastard.
Anyway, I think I've written enough to get my editor off my back for another week. I'm going back to my Terry Hatcher fantasies now.
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