I have never in my life been a racehorse.
And more likely than not, I never will be.
As such, it is fair to acknowledge that I will never know for sure what it feels like to post into a starting gate.
That being said, I think I can speculate on what it feels like to be in that moment. (And, seeing as how you are also very likely not a racehorse – and will also very likely never be one – my guess is as good as yours, which is as good as any.)
So, I will say: I am there now. In the starting gate.
A million molecules of my body are gathered, tense, restless, irritated, excited; every element of my existence is ready, waiting, willing the gate to open.
It may be first time I have ever been here, but everything I have known up until this moment has prepared me for it.
I sense where I am.
I was made for this; I have been conditioned for it. And I can feel it.
I know what is about to happen, and I need no further preparation to know what I am supposed to do.
I feel metal flanked against me; I sense the confines and accept the havoc they instill.
I force myself to focus on my instrinsic understanding of their impermanence.
I press forward against the gate.
I know that there is nothingness behind me; nothing but openness and infinity ahead.
I shift, just to feel sensation in all parts of my being and shake off imagined atrophy.
I stare ahead – against the sun and into it; I bear down on the brightness of the track and scan forward along the footing.
Every muscle is constricting.
There is heat along the crease of my joints, where the parts of my body come together.
There is heat along my spine and at the backs of my legs.
This heat expands and stretches and grips every part of my body.
Because already, psychologically, I am running.
Already, I can feel each hoof, as though in slow motion, hitting the track; tearing into the track; cutting away at the footing and propelling me forward.
I am chasing the horizon, hunting it.
I feel the exertion along my limbs as I rush forward.
I feel heat rise and surge, from beneath my ribcage and – crawling, clawing – push up the back of my neck and along my legs.
And I know that I am meant to run.
There is nothing, in this moment, except the sheer exertion of running; the complete exhaustion of running; the deliberateness of running and the ultimate and utter depletion of running. I feel the heat of everything inside me coiled up as I run; I am made to do this.
I am halfway to forever – overtaking the earth’s end – when I am still waiting for the gate to open.
And I am there. Only waiting for the gate.