Running out of time he thought, pushing through the crowds milling about on the sidewalk. Ten minutes left, if my watch is right. No excuses this time- I’ve been living with excuses for long enough. He darted around a rather large woman eating a hot dog and countless business men with their identical brief cases and identical suits. Most of them didn’t notice- a few of them would yell or give dirty looks, but he was generally gone before he noticed. At any rate, he didn’t care.
He got caught by a red hand at a crosswalk and waited for a second before glancing at his watch and darting out into traffic. Cars screeched on their brakes and the honks continued to drone on behind him as he reached the other side and made his way into the park. Halloween leaves littered the path as he sprinted past roller bladers, joggers and dogwalkers.
Less than a mile to go now he realized, picking up the pace. He reached a soccer field and took off across it, the people on the path stopping now and again to look at the man in both incredulity and amazement.
The man’s legs burned and his lungs began to catch fire. Faster he thought. I must go faster.
Over his heavy breathing, the man heard his watch beep. Five minutes left. Good thing I darted through that traffic back there- I never would have made it. Finally reaching the other side of the field, he took yet another path and finally saw his destination in the distance- a lone spire reaching into the sky. Almost impossibly, his pace quickened yet again, his legs a churning blur beneath him.
At that moment, he hit a moment of desperation- do I have enough gas left in the tank to keep up this pace he wondered as he always did. He was close enough to see the end but far enough away to think twice about the effort. As he turned a curve, his doubts disappeared.
It was a straight shot now- a little over a quarter mile uphill. He passed a cop on a horse, causing the animal to snicker in surprise and take a miniature step backwards out of fear. He waved and yelled sorry as he passed. The cop just waved.
He charged the final three hundred feet, his legs kicking powerfully behind him as his stride lengthened. He could feel the wind against his back as he reached the tower in the middle of the park.
He coasted past it, allowing himself to enjoy the feeling of slowing down- of muscles unbunching and breathing steadying. He made a slow loop back toward the tower, eventually stopping beneath it and resting a moment to catch his breath.
The cop finally caught up with him. How’d you do? he asked, patting his horse on the neck. The man glanced down at his watch. Shaved off twelve seconds- a new personal best the man replied, beads of sweat now noticeably forming on his face.
Not bad. Did you catch the crosswalk? the cop asked.
Liar. The cop smiled, turned his horse, and sauntered away.