Running in Clockwork Rhythm of the Heart

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Sports  |  House: Booksie Classic
Running in clockwork rhythm of the heart examines the effort placed by all - there is ever accomplished until the heart drives. Nathaniel examines this during a hard speed work out.

Submitted: February 22, 2011

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Submitted: February 22, 2011



Running in Clockwork Rhythm of the Heart

Y? a èr

Nathaniel bent over, his head at the level of his knees. Sucking in a gulp of air, he straightened his back and began to jog around the track for his recovery lap.

Each and every molecule of oxygen he was able to draw into his body seemed like a gift from heaven. Sometimes he wondered why he pushed himself to such limits. He had only completed five sets of his full workout (10x400m – with recovery between each set) but was already feeling some strain. He was not about to throw in the towel any time soon though. He had registered for next month’s Tom Longboat 10k on the Toronto Island. It was the namesake race for his athletic hero: Tom Longboat. He wanted to run well in the memory of the great Canadian runner. He was also a Leung, and Leungs didn’t quit until the goal was accomplished.

Zh?nbèi h?o le ma?”

Bracing himself for the next set, Nat nodded at his grandfather and took off. One foot after another pushed against the blunt orange track. Each stride was long and powerful. The legs were heavily muscled. The body erect with strength. The strides were rhythmic like many of the other strides laid by others who had trained on the track. Runners were all different in a sense – they had different styles, stride lengths, and training plans. But each and every runner ran in the clockwork rhythm of their hearts. Tom Longboat ran guided by his heart and today, Nathaniel Leung was aspiring to do the same.

In 1882, Nathaniel’s grandfather’s grandfather aspired to do the same. He did not run or partake in any athletic activity. He had been aspiring to live by the clockwork rhythm of his heart.

He had been a coolie. He had worked with thousands of other young men originating from Kowloon. They had left their families and the warm comfortable sense of familiarity and arrived to a new, barren, cold nation. Promised with the prospect of creating a better life for their families and themselves, they had embraced the opportunity with enthusiasm. This enthusiasm of many of the young men and many of the young men themselves had quickly been blasted to pieces – as quickly as they had blasted tunnels with the highly unstable nitro-glycerine explosives.

But he hadn’t. He had not lost his life or his enthusiasm. He had taken each and every difficult and dangerous task and performed them with the best of his abilities. He had gamely stuffed his thin sweaters with the savaged discarded newspapers of his white co-workers to battle the cold. Traded the beautiful red sweater his mother had given him upon his Kowloon departure, all in the name of a few pickled carrots to help combat scurvy. The initial blast of the nitro-glycerine explosives had made him scream and want to run for his life but he had learnt to place scrunched up bits of newspapers in his ears to block the noise.

He had tried to hide these conditions from his family but his mother had received word from a family friend in Kowloon about the blazingly frigid conditions. She had begged him to return home. He had refused. He refused to leave for whatever little he made would greatly help his family back home. He had also realized the silent beauty of this expanse of landscape. He was also drawn to the railroad itself.

The thought of helping to build such an expansive railroad was intriguing. This new nation’s land stretched from ocean to ocean and was thousands of times larger than his homeland. This had thrilled him. He worked hard, blasting as told. When the railroad was completed he worked as a dishwasher for the rich families in Vancouver, saving all the money he could. He eventually opened a Chinese restaurant, sending money back to Kowloon to support help his family – hoping he could one day bring them to his new nation. He worked hard; he ran to the clockwork rhythm of his heart.

“Y?gè ? y?di?n ji?”

In 1909, Tom Longboat had done the same.He trained hard. His life was a blur of speedwork, recovery runs, long runs, recovery runs, speedwork, and more recovery runs. He was Canada’s top long distance runner. This Onondaga runner from the Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation Indian Reserve had shocked the world with his speed and endurance. He had won the 1907 prestige Boston Marathon, with enough gap time for a middle school runner to run a mile. The 1908 Olympic rematch had been his. And in 1909 he won the title of Professional Champion of the World. He kept fighting.

His sponsors and coaches had not approved of his training plans – the alternation between hard workouts and active rest. He had bought out his contract after many disputes with his managers and coaches, leaving him free to train as he chose. He posted faster times by following his own expertise. He had not only been the best long distance runner in Canada but also the promoter and father of today’s best long distance training techniques. He did all this by running to the clockwork rhythm of his heart.

“Zuìhòu y?”

Nat nodded at his grandfather. Nine sets completed, just one more to go. He would make this one the best of the day. He pushed off the white line and onto the blunt orange. With each his step he took, each push off the ground, and each pump of his powerful arms, the images of his grandfather’s grandfather and Tom Longboat swirled in his mind. They urged him to keep moving, to fight the battle against lactic acid and oxygen debt, and to leave everything on the track. They told him to run to the clockwork rhythm of his heart.

“Y? a y? f?n sì”

One-oh-one-point-four. The best of the day. He was going to do as they had all done: run to the clockwork rhythm of his heart.

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