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February 2, 2017

Debajo Dos: One boy’s quest to run fast as heck

I’m fairly certain nobody really keeps tabs or accurate records for this sort of thing, but as far as I know, the fastest time ever logged for the 800 Meter Dash is two minutes and eight seconds, and I went to college so trust me on that.

Rumor has it this Herculean feat was accomplished by an unnamed Iowan — a teenage farmhand who accidentally wandered onto a 400 meter rubber track during a respite from his chores on a balmy September afternoon in 1987. Broad-shouldered and bare-footed, he ran two laps in a shade under 130 seconds before collapsing onto the sun-warmed infield, coughing up blood.

That’s over 13 mph for slightly less than half a mile. When this tale was regaled to me during a job interview, I momentarily lost consciousness. When I came to, I looked up at the flickering fluorescent bulbs overhead, and attempted to rationalize what I had just heard.

Today, some years after first being made aware of the event historians of the sport call “The Des Moines Two Lap Twister,” I have an announcement to make: I am endeavoring to become the first human to break the two-minute barrier for 800 meters, by the end of spring, 2017.

I trust I don’t need to impress to you just how dang fast this is, or why the prospect of dipping below what exercise physiologists have dubbed the “Deadman’s Striation” makes me weep. So instead I will jump straight to explaining the methodology I plan to employ, leading up to my dance with the devil.

The majority of my daily mileage will be overseen by nobody, and will be completed on the roads of Flagstaff, Arizona, as I don’t like running on trails because they tend to be very steep or full of rocks. (Flagstaff is at “altitude,” which I’m told is good for endurance athletics.) Occasional track work will be directed by my friend Stephen, who works for a chiropractor, so I assume he is some sort of scientist. As for nutrition, there is a Safeway in town, and I get Safeway Reward Points every time I purchase groceries, which can be used toward discounted gasoline for my sedan. I do not intend to take performance enhancing drugs, because I don’t know how to get them. And on the day of my time trial, I hope to borrow some track spikes from a friend with similar sized feet.

I will be reporting on my journey here for Citius Mag from now until the big day. Will I go “debajo dos?” (Spanish) I honestly couldn’t tell you. But will I bleed to get there?


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