In the race for glory... I'm beaten by aunties By David Turner September 04, 2006 THERE is nothing more depressing than watching someone half your age leave you for dust at the start of a running race. Except someone twice your age leaving you for dust a second later. That's what happened to me when I signed up for a community fun run a few weeks ago. Before the race, I felt super-confident. At the starting line, I surveyed the other contenders: Kids and grandparents. I almost felt guilty at the easy prey, like a big kid in the little kid's sand pit. But no sooner had the race director said 'ready, set, go' than I was the one left with sand in my face. I lost the inevitable mad scramble for space on the concrete path and was forced onto the dreaded grass verge. Not even my old fear of killer ants could help me keep up with the entire local kindergarten that was steadily moving as one into the distance. As I watched someone with a bandaged knee stride past me, I reflected on where I got the foolish image in my head of myself gloriously crossing the finish line first, the race director congratulating and asking me to represent the town in the upcoming inter-constituency race. Perhaps my delusions came from my daily mad morning dash to catch the early bus, when I have to zig-zag between the slow and shuffling masses. Sometimes it's so congested I even take my life into my hands by overtaking in the 'killer litter' zone outside the void-deck walkway. I can never understand how people can move both feet and swing both arms and still barely move. At 7am it's very disorientating. The lurching bus ride only adds to this dream-like feeling. Everyone's eyes are open but their faces are still asleep. My mind back on the race, I tried to pick up my pace. A boy who looked about 12 bounded past me. I think his shoelaces weren't even tied, but he was beyond shouting distance before I could warn him. Where else had I gone wrong? I had mistakenly measured my performance against the other early evening exercisers as I ran around the block each night. I would pass red-faced stumbling joggers and secretly smile, with some sympathy, at their comical and painful appearance. But now I realise, no matter how fit I felt as I strode past them, I still looked just as red faced, just as awkward, just as ridiculous. And like them, I was running deceptively slowly. THE SPEED SECRET Yes, I had been deceived by a 'slow motion' world. The aunties and uncles I see slowly swirling and swaying as they practise Qigong at the multi-purpose plaza. The youths in slippers who slowly scuff into the elevator in front of me as I impatiently grit my teeth. The women teetering in heels who hold back the tide of people descending the steps of the Outram MRT underpass. But now I know all is not what it seems. These people are not slow, they are just wise enough to know when it's time to be slow (when its 30 degrees and the destination is work) and when it's time to be fast (community fun runs, getting a seat on the MRT, handbag sales at Tangs). Meanwhile, I had been wasting all my energy trying to get to work on time. With this thought I crossed the finishing line, watched by a group of retirees who were already cooling down. I gasped for air and collected my goodie bag. NEWater never tasted so good.