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  • I was Fast. Quick. Speedy. U n c a t c h a b l e.

    I didn’t need to think “run”, it just happened. It didn’t even feel like sprinting, no energy was required. As I got up to full speed, I’d take off, running on a band of air, while all around me were grounded. I was blessed with a lightness. I had complete speed: I’d zoom straight or zig-zag without a thought, I could stop and start again in an instant.

    To know that you can’t be caught is a power – what better Darwinist confidence-giver than speed? Sure, it only mattered on a sports field – small boy with ball eludes bigger boys again and again, cocky (but scared) boy grins as he widens the gap from despairing pursuers. But this stroke of physical luck would have saved me through the ages; for me flight would always have beaten fight, I’d always have been alright… a speedster is always useful to have around.

    And then one day, I wasn’t fast anymore. A tweak here and a pull there slowed me down. A fear of the snap as I slipped into top gear led to a growing caution. At first, top speed was rationed: I had to consciously apply the brakes and remind my body that 100% was only for use when absolutely necessary. Top speed became more allusive.

    And then one day, someone overtook me. It was like a punch to the solar plexus; I actually stopped running in surprise and marked the moment in my memory; “Age 28, overtaken for the first time.” The fact that it was a younger man who came past made for a more visual metaphor than was perhaps necessary.

    Now traces of speed remain; instinct prevails on short sprints and fuels nostalgia of longer stretches from days gone by, average pace is still quicker than most and probably still counts as “quick”… but not by my definition. When I run now, I’m grounded like everyone else. It’s the first thing that I’ll never be able to do again.
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