Wednesday, August 22, 2007


What do you dream about? When you are awake, when you are asleep?

Most everyone who is close to me- family, friends, work colleagues- know my (excessive) interest in the sport of running. Some understand me, and others don't. But it does not change anything for me. Recently, though, I have been wondering how someone can tell when he/she is too interested in something. I think one possible clue is when you start dreaming about that thing while your are awake and while you are asleep.

When I was a child, and even after I grew up, I used to have dreams of being chased by someone or something. I would try to run to get away but it always felt like my running was in slow motion, while the attacker was fast closing on me. I was always glad when I finally woke up from such dreams.

Nowadays, though, I still dream a lot about running, but I am no longer being chased. When I am awake I often dream about the seemingly unreachable goal of running a sub 3 hour marathon. When I am asleep I dream a lot about being in a race where I feel the exhilaration of being right up front with the leaders. In such dreams, I always find myself being surprised that I could maintain such a fast pace to stay up front. It is an effortless feeling.

Just few days ago, I dreamt about being in a 1500M race, and during the last 300M I was locked in a battle with another runner for the lead. The other guy kept pushing harder every few strides and I covered his move every time.

The funny thing about these races is I never ever remember how the race ends. It is always thinking "I can't believe I am running this fast" but not knowing what the final result is.

Here is another recent running dream: several weeks ago, I found myself at a mile race on the track. There were several heats of the race so I decided to jump in with the group expected to finish between 7:00 - 7:50 min. I figured that I could get pulled to running faster than I could running by myself.

This was the third heat so as my heat is called up to the starting line, I walk onto the track for what I remember to be my first ever track race. I keep thinking about Haile, Kenenisa, etc. and wonder what they feel in such moments.

After giving quick instructions, the starter gets the race underway and I immediately find myself in the middle of the pack running a pace which I am not sure I can keep for four laps. The leaders go way ahead but I keep pushing and notice the clock reading 1:40 at the end of the first lap. Amazingly, lap two and three go consistently the same running each at a 1:40 pace. I am working hard now with one lap left, but by this time, I had already managed to pass many that had gone ahead of me. Only four or five still remain ahead of me as we get in the back stretch of the final lap. Feeling that it is now or never, I push even harder and manage to pass two more people getting myself in to third place. As we pass the 200M mark, I pass one more person and get into second place, and at the same time notice that the one person remaining upfront is a woman.

At this point, I still feel strong enough to know that I could pass her, but for a second or two, I have a mental debate with myself and my upbringing wondering whether I should pass her or not. With a possible first ever victory in sight and having convinced myself that everyone in the race is a fair game, I push more and come up even with the woman with about 50M to go in the race. She puts up a fight for few more strides but then she fades back and I find myself in the clear, ahead of everyone. I couldn't believe the race had unfolded this way and I start to revel in my first ever victory just steps away.

As I back off from my full sprinting stride in anticipation of the narrow finish line only 10 meters ahead of me, I suddenly hear fast approaching footsteps, and in the blink of an eye, I was passed by another man right at the finish line with no time or space for me to respond. I glance at the clock and it reads 6:37 and change, much quicker than I ever anticipated running. I could not believe I had committed this classical mistake at the finish line but I was still pleased with the turn of events.

I found it even more amazing that I was awake all along during this dream...

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