Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up.
It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed.
Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up.
It knows that it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve.
It doesn't matter whether you're a lion or a gazelle
when the sun comes up you'd better be running.
― Christopher McDougall, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen
Dhab... dhab... dhab... dhab...
It's 8.15 in the morning. I'm out on a walk, having slowed down from my version of a run, and I can hear these totally non-gazelle-like footsteps closing in on me. My one arm swings more than the other, for in the other, I am carrying my phone. I don't always. But today I need the time. I need to be on time. Last night there was a storm and I feel moisture in the air. It's bright but not sunny.
Dhab... dhab... dhab. It's almost next to my ear.
You can't place running footsteps as accurately or as often as you can walking ones. Maybe it's the rubber soles. And even walking footsteps are not as easy to place as, say, a voice - placed so much more instantly.
I'm not expecting my father on my route at this time. He usually sets out earlier. But I'm not surprised to see him, tall, lanky, running, catching up, not stopping, still - asking, "Hiiii! Want to jog for a bit?"
Oh! hi, I say, letting him run on ahead, and saying after him loudly enough to catch: naaaaaah.
The dhab dhab dhab continues ahead. Soon I can no longer hear it. I can hear only the sounds of construction where a building is coming up, the activity of a cement mixer. And I can see only the figure, tall, lanky, running, running slowly, in those awful long shorts.
In the moments after his footsteps dissolve, I feel a pang. Why is my first reflex always no? I don't spend enough time with him anyway! What is wrong with you?!
After a 30-second self-berating eternity in which I can see his figure diminish in my eye, the mind is made up. With an ugh and a groan, I quicken my pace and start my own dhab dhab dhab, slicing distance, hopping over a stream of mud water - evidence of the early morning bath had by a car in someone's driveway. I negotiate my way around a sleeping mongrel. The impact of sneakers-on-road alerts some some idle heads and some turn. I pass those, closing in. And in catching up with my father, merging with his pace and converting us into sprinting side-by-side beanpoles, the berating is gone. I feel better.