My 3 minute run, 1 minute walk pace lasts for exactly 3 minutes.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet the Wall.
I slam into it gradually. It takes me a half-mile to realize that I’m about to go completely insane. So close. I’m so close to the man in the powder blue shirt that I can make out his features: He’s about 10 years older than me. He’s heavier than I thought. He has long legs that give him a long stride. There is sweat around the collar of his shirt (okay, maybe I don’t need to know that). This guy has been the focus of my run for several miles. I must catch him. I must. I will. I will catch him.
We pass mile 21 and he is now, possibly, five yards in front of me. 5 yards. Oh, man in the powder blue shirt, you are mine. I will catch you… as soon as I complete this walk break.
Someone hands me a mini energy bar. Hell, it’s better than almonds. If I never eat another almond the rest of my life it will be too soon. I scarf the energy bar and I will myself to overtake the man in the powder blue shirt. He’s so close now… my tormenter. Why has he taunted me for so many miles? I figure it out… almost 6 miles. I have been chasing some stranger for six miles. Oh my God, I’m a stalker.
He’s just ahead, if I can just excel down this little slop. That’s it; he’s within two feet. I can pass him.
What happens after I pass him? Then what? I won’t have as much motivation. There won’t be that lifeline pulling me to the finish. Is it possible that the man in the powder blue shirt isn’t my tormenter but, in fact. My savior? Should I pass the man in the powder blue shirt? Should I?
I nearly have a panic attack. Not just butterflies, but a crippling, stomach aching, puking off the side of the bike path, paper bag heavy breathing panic attack. I have to slow down. And as I do this… he slowly runs away.
Nooooooooooo! I let him get away. Curse you man in the powder blue shirt! I will get you, yet!