I could see him up ahead. His strides short and quick. I’m closing the gap. Eventually passing him on the narrow slippery sidewalk.
I’m 2 kilometres away from finishing today’s tapered run. My pace is not astonishing but given the terrain I’m feeling good with how my training is unfolding for next week.
As I cross the busy intersection I can hear him. His footfall insistent and determined. The man I’ve passed is right behind me. I pick up the pace. But I can still hear him. Plodding. Resolute. I may be less than 2 kilometres away from ending my run, but at 12 kilometres, today’s distance is a far cry from my customary 21.1 kilometre Friday. I still have plenty of gas in the tank. I can lose him.
I open the jets and throw down a pace that sees me through my penultimate kilometre more than half a minute swifter than my previous.
Yet it isn’t enough.
He’s still there.
I strain to get a glimpse of him in a store front window but can’t quite make him out. The angle isn’t ideal and I have to pay attention to the other pedestrians as well as the hazards the snow and ice have thrown our way.
Still I can’t shake him.
My heart begins to pound with effort.
It’s been a couple of minutes now and I’m getting unnerved.
Is he using me as his pace bunny? His personal Kenyan? Or is there something more sinister at play?
Forward I surge as I fight the urge to just turn and cry out
What is your problem????!!!
The light turns red.
I make a quick 90 degree turn.
Fleeing southbound on Spadina.
I look over my shoulder.
But he’s not there.
Indeed he’s nowhere to be seen. Did he turn up a side street? Or was he ever there to begin with?
Has my taper-induced pent up energy started playing tricks on my mind? Have I imagined the entire pursuit? It certainly brought out a great kick from me.
A sudden smile plays upon me. My adrenaline fades. And I ease up my pace.