A re-occurring dream had by an aging athlete
Some time during the night my fever broke and the dream returned. I've always wondered if this dream was born from reality or if it “was” reality and it was my life that was a dream.
I'm talking smell, touch, color, light, pain, goose bumps, warmth, cold, every sensation life has to offer and more.
It always starts with me looking down at my feet. I know it's me because...well, I just know it is, like you know you are reading this page. It's something you don't question. It just is.
I'm wearing old track spikes with tight white athletic socks. I can't hear anything except the beating of my heart and my inner voice repeating the mantra,
“focus...accelerate...smooth...breath...relax...drop your shoulders...relax your arms and drive your legs...pump...EXPLODE...EXPLODE...EXPLODE...gather and land...legs high!”
My breathing gets faster and heavy, I'm rocking back and forth, back and forth on a thin black runway, littered with small scraps of tape with numbers written on them. I look forward, down the runway and I have tunnel vision. All that I can see is the black asphalt strip broken only by two freshly painted white boards, ending at a white sand pit, raked perfectly smooth by a teenage boy standing to the right of the pit with the rake in his hand. Two older men are standing on either side of the runway closer to me at one of the white boards. One man is holding a tape measure and the other had on a straw hat and was holding a clip board in one arm while raising the other arm high above his head. Both men are staring at me.
The man with the clip board drops his arm and both men divert their eyes to the board on the runway.
I could feel a cool breeze at my back that gives me goose bumps as it dries my sweat. I rock back once more with my eyes closed then, explode down the runway, pushing off, like my life depends on it, driving with my legs and with my head down for the first five steps until I can feel that I am at maximum acceleration. Without thinking about it, my arms drop below my waist my head comes up and I take a deep breath, relaxing into the run, almost gliding down the runway.
My mind is blank, totally unaware of everything around me, but somehow I know that the next ten steps are the most important. I must accelerate to the board, not coast. Still relaxed I lift my knees and I can feel a glide turn into an explosive acceleration.
I can see the board approaching but I don't look down. Pushing harder with my last three strides I hit the board and POW, I lift into the air, not as a long jumper or high jumper, but forward, trying to stay low while rotating my legs in a circular motion.
Now the move that would make all the difference. The Russian's two arm throw, taught to me by my Coach Dixie Foster and finally perfected in my sleep during another dream my freshman year in college. Some how in the next 18 feet while flying through the air I needed to use my arms as a weight to throw toward the pit helping to carry my body further instead of just using them for balance.
Gathering my arms behind me as I hit the ground, I throw them up and forward together using their combined weight of 17 pounds in tandem with my momentum created by what ever speed I was able to muster down the runway. The trick is to be able to pull this off while maintaining balance. Early attempts at the “Russian Throw” ended with me screwing myself into the runway while appearing to the world around me that I was just learning to walk and chew gum together.
After leaving the board I could feel the exhilaration of flight. The whole jump lasts just over one second but time slows to a crawl for the jumper. In my mind everything I've ever learned is flashing before me. I am weightless, pulling my right arm back to match my left while rotating my legs to be able to land on the same leg of which I left the board.
Pulling my knee up at the instant before contact with the runway, I drive my heel into the asphalt with over 1700 pounds of impact force, ending the hop and transitioning into the step phase. Careful not to extend my contact leg too far forward as to slow my momentum further, the impact sounds like a shot. The force drives me back into the air, thoughtful again of not gaining too much height which would detract from my third and final phase, the jump.
If the casual observer were to close their eyes while observing a properly executed triple-jump, what would be heard is an equally spaced...pop...bang... whoosh.
The “step” phase is the hardest for a jumper to learn. It is natural to hop too far then shorten the step to compensate for the force of the hop, thus killing all forward momentum and resulting in an awkward, uncomfortable jump.
My arms drive forward while I lift my free leg's knee to my chest, hanging for an eternity waiting to feel the pull of gravity, but not too long, just right...NOW...BANG...explode into the air once more, arching my back and legs in a backward C shape, trying to fly, to hang in the air forever...