Invisible Finish Lines

It was drizzling at that far-flung beach up north. I had the entire swathe of coastline to myself, with barely a soul  in the surroundings. The solitude was invigorating. The contrast between the salt-tinged air and the pure tasteless rain clears the mind. Unaccustomed to running on  sandy beaches, my calves were aching from the brief trot from the hotel. I gazed at the gray horizon, painted by an even darker hue by brooding rain squalls.  After a few moments spent warming-up, I looked around for a perfect spot to start sprinting.

Sprinting, when done right, brings forth a sensation close to flying. Contrary to common belief, one cannot just run with reckless abandon, with nary a thought on the proper mechanics. A well-trained speedster runs almost erect, the arms and legs pumping vigorously like four, well-oiled pistons in an engine. The true sprinter is relaxed yet intense,  as he or she channels almost every drop of energy into a single-minded goal of reaching the finish line as fast as humanly possible.

I put my right foot ahead of the left as I stood on that makeshift, beach front starting line. There were no crowds at the stands or competitors at the adjacent lanes. There were no clocks to beat, records to be broken, or medals to be won. I was by my lonesome at that quiet stretch of La Union shoreline, listening to the sound of the surf eternally pounding the shore. I crouched, cocking my knees as I take measured breaths. Pushing off with my right leg, I began the sprint, running low as I built up speed. My arms exaggeratedly swung at the sides to keep balance as my shins traversed almost parallel to the ground.

Gradually, I ascended. My focus shifted from the sand below me to the finish drawing increasingly near. As my knees punch the air, my stride goes into full swing. With each step my feet pummel the sand, throwing up grayish black powders in my wake. For the final act, I lean towards the unseen finish line – the invisible tape – to stop the omniscient clock a little quicker. I let my stride gradually shorten as I decelerate, gently throttling down my body which only moments ago hurtled across the beach with childlike glee.  Slowing down to a walk, I made an about face and retraced my steps from finish to start.

I repeated the same sequence to my heart’s content, until the longing for speed was satisfied.

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