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The Arena Is Empty ~ Except For One Man: Distressed Runner Part 2

Forrest Gump as the iconic distressed runner seeking and finding peace in a long run. This was distressed runner, part 1.

Distressed runner part 2 is about another runner. This one is unnamed, but he is featured in that Cake song which deserves a spot on everyone's running playlist. You know the one. Sing along... "He's Going The Distance. He's Going For Speed."

Here's a closer look at:

Cake - The Distance

---The song starts with what seems like a typical 400 or 800 meter race at any track event.

Reluctantly crouched at the starting line,
engines pumping and thumping in time.
the green light flashes, the flags go up.
churning and burning, they yearn for the cup.
they deftly maneuver and muscle for rank,
fuel burning fast on an empty tank.
reckless and wild, they pour through the turns.
their prowess is potent and secretly stern.
as they speed through the finish, the flags go down.

And that's when something strange happens...

the fans get up and they get out of town.
the arena is empty except for one man,
still driving and striving as fast as he can.

What's that? Everybody has left but one distressed runner is still running?  How long will this go on for?

the sun has gone down and the moon has come up,
and long ago somebody left with the cup.

but he's driving and striving and hugging the turns.
he's thinking of someone for whom he still burns.

There's an insidious obsession here. He's certainly not content with his little 1/2 mile run. What does this runner want anyway?

no trophy, no flowers, no flashbulbs, no wine,
he's haunted by something he cannot define.

Oh, I see... no trophy's, no flowers, no race day t-shirt, no medal, no goody bag either? He's probably not even wearing a watch, that doesn't matter. It's something deeper, he's haunted by something he cannot define, but it probably feels like....

bowel-shaking earthquakes of doubt and remorse,
assail him, impale him with monster-truck force.
in his mind, he's still driving, still making the grade.
she's hoping in time that her memories will fade.

It's about a girl huh. Well, she's forgotten him, the trophy is gone, he'll never seem to find peace, and day after day, he's...

still striving and driving and hugging the turns.
and thinking of someone for whom he still burns.

Forever running with the burn. It's a lovely song either about a distressed runner haunted by bowel-shaking earthquakes of doubt and remorse. Or a metaphorical song about a pathetic, sad man, trying desperately to hook up at a bar before closing time.

Then again, maybe we are all versions of that sad drunken man at closing time, fighting against the clock to get what we came for before we have to go home.

Drive safe.


Gracie said…
I just wandered over from another blog and had to say - this is my favorite running song! I only use music for races and long runs, since I feel like I need an extra boost, but I make sure this song makes every play list. I just ignore all the parts about the girl and make it about racing :)

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