The Giraffe Man

Thump, Thump, Thump,
What is that noise?
Thump, Thump, Thump,
Seriously, what is that?
Thump, Thump, Thump,
Where is that coming from???
Thump, Thump, Thump,
It’s right behind you, or beside you…
Thump! Thump! Thump!
It’s all around you! It has you!
The Giraffe Man has come for your soul!

No ones knows where the Giraffe Man came from, where he goes when the shadows grow, or why he even exists, but everyone who knows who or what he is hates him. If you think you know not the Giraffe Man, you are mistaken.

My last encounter with the Giraffe Man was yesterday. As part of my half marathon training schedule for the Big Lake Half Marathon in early May, I was running a tough 3-mile loop up Boston’s famed Heartbreak Hill. Now, I am no speedster when it comes to running, especially during training, but I had been checking my FitBit and I was running at an 8 minute-mile pace when the Giraffe Man enclosed upon me. I never saw it coming.

I had just crushed a hill, in dominating fashion like Micah True or Scott Jurek would do, and I was feeling great when I heard the first thump, thump, thump. Thinking one of the casual runners I had recently passed had decided to sprint, I looked back and saw nothing but open road. Looking forward, I made the decision to sprint the downhill I had just earned and, not quite like a gun, I was off. But the thump, thump, thumps grew louder. And because ear buds are allergic to staying in my ears, I run “naked” and thus I heard every single thump.

This time, I refused to look behind and instead I became increasingly determined to continue the sprint up the next hill before my turnoff. I was convinced that if that thump, thump, thump was indeed some speedster runner, I’d be long gone on the turnoff before the embarrassment of being passed could happen. I was wrong.

As I began the uphill sprint, the thump, thump, thumping kept growing louder. So, for every increasingly closer thump, I exerted more energy. But no matter how much energy I threw into the sprint, the thump, thump, thumping increased. I would not, could not, look back.

Finally, the thumping hit a fever pitch where it felt as if I was the creator of the disturbing thump, thump, thump, and that my ears had deceived me, but I was wrong. For in that brief instant, like a flash, was the Giraffe Man.

The Giraffe Man, was as tall as the sky and as skinny as a stick of beef jerky. His puffy coat and Under Armour basketball shoes were ridiculous to run in and yet run in them he did. With impossibly symmetric 90 degree angled arms and legs, and an erect posture that gave the impression of one lying face up on a stone slab, he flashed by, zooming up the hill and disappearing into the suddenly bright and sunny sky. And just like that, he was gone.

My pace immediately slowed, probably due to my jaw dragging, as I approached the very hill where Giraffe Man had disappeared. I could no longer see him, or hear that thump, thump, thumping. Suddenly sapped of all motivation, I trudged through my turnoff, which I’d finally reach. It felt like I had lost something. Or maybe something had been taken from me. Had he taken my heart, my soul, my energy? Was this dementor even real???

I know not if and when I’ll encounter the Giraffe Man again, but fair warning to all runners who encounter him soon, rest assured that he is a thief, an impossibly fast, energy-sapping, soul-sucking thief. Ten cuidado, amigos.


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