The atmosphere in the arena was tense, and with every passing moment grew more so. The very smell was slightly staler than that of only two minutes ago. After about an hour and a half long press conference, the six-foot tall 186-pound man standing in the middle of the field was shaking off the stiffness from his tense muscles. Nervous would be an understatement for the sandy color haired, slightly tanned person all eyes were now watching and waiting on. An i-pod strapped to his arm and headphones blasting music helped clear his mind and put him in the zone. His thoughts were all but wiped away as he nodded and stretched to the beat of the bass heavy krump music he used to warm up. His adrenaline was starting to increase his heart rate to a slightly elevated level, and he stretched for about two and a half songs worth of time before giving a slight nod to the podium off of the right side of the track, indicating he was ready.
It seemed odd that all this Olympic worthy coverage and equipment would be used by but a single man today. The spongy material, red in color and textured as artificial asphalt, that made up the track laid out especially for him was lined with a plethora of officials with stopwatches and radar guns. Jostling for position as close as possible to all of them were the members of the media and press, snapping photos and attempting to cover every possible second of this monumental event from every imaginable angle. There was scarcely room to fit a Gatorade cooler on a field that was occupied with two of professional football's most popular teams, barely moments ago.
'All this for me,' he thought. 'I still don't think I'm anyone special, and have yet to do anything with this gift except run fast. No one can explain what it is that makes me so different, and I honestly still don't feel or see why it's such a big deal… yet here we are, and here I stand. But why?'
Before he could go any further with his own mental inquiries the announcer had his microphone in hand and gave the crowd notice that their newfound hero was ready and would be starting shortly. 77,000 people crammed in Lincoln Financial Field erupted with the sounds of excitement, support and jubilation at the master of ceremonies' words. Halftime at an Eagles' game was, usually met with a cheerleader routine or a pop Warner football exhibition between two local teams lucky enough to be picked by the franchise to come and play on the field for the fans. This week though, there was an event that would supersede the National League championship game itself. Meaning that even though the Eagles were in contention for the Superbowl this year, most of the people here in the stadium came primarily to see this event that was about to unfold. All eyes from both the upper-levels, the sidelines, the Jumbotron, the booths, VIP sections, and both teams (who stayed on the field), as well as the millions upon millions around the nation and world watching from television sets turned to the coverage of this event, were now transfixed on the single individual about to set foot on the one-time use red track.
He had done spectacles of this magnitude only three times prior, and immediately following the end of each event he fell into a coma that lasted anywhere from two days to a week. There were only vague answers to the universal question of why this outcome was so, but of those broad explanations the medical experts whom speculated on it, all agreed that at the very least, any further attempts to break his personal record would push the human body past its ultimate physical limitation and possibly destroy his musculature and (according to some) his central nervous system. Also, having fallen into repeated comas, should he slip into another one, it may very well leave him in a permanently vegetated state. Or so he was told…
Yet, the fact that he even continued to stand was a very defiance to the logic that those same experts held fast to a firm belief in. The only reason the risks took place at all was the very miracle that it even transpired in the first place. Breaking world speed records held only by a few wild animals, let alone the very fastest of olympians, is a feat no other in the world can have ever claimed. Yet, as a 24 year old man with no competitive running experience, nor any exceptional athletic merits except for having gone through basic training for the Army, this man was about hold claim to those very feats in a matter of moments.
He picked the lane he would start at, lane 3, and began to pace as he removed his warm-up jacket and sweat pants. He chose this lane because it was not so far inside that the turn would be more difficult, but not so far outside that he would be turning forever by comparison. Just right for him. About one and a half laps should bring him up to the projected and desired speed that everyone watching was looking for. Though before he even finished that distance he would be at a speed reserved for only animals found on the plains of Africa.
Stakes in place, he took a few deep breaths and closed his eyes putting him in a near Zen-like mode of thoughtless action and concentration. Slowly, the crowd was silenced in his mind, no longer there to distract him. Only the beating of his heart, and sound of his breath were heard by him any more. Knowing almost instinctively he was being told to get ready, he lowered himself slowly and placed his hands on the track out in front of him. Moving deliberately he placed his track cleats, one foot at a time, in their respective offset stakes, flexing his muscles and loosening his joints one last time as he did so, and braced himself.
One heartbeat… sweat was starting to build on his brow and around his body.
Second heartbeat… he tightened his fingertip grip on the ground and started tensing the rest of his body.
Third heartbeat… the order "Get Set!" was called out from what seemed like thousands of miles away to him.
Thump-thump……..thump-thump……..thump-thump, he waited; eyes closed until a millisecond before the starting pistol was fired and the crack of the blank round reached his ears. With all his might he pushed off with both feet, leaning forward, pumping his muscular arms and legs, and set off to make the history of mankind and humanity change forever…