People form lines

This Post is about an exercise workout yesterday that sparked my interest.   It was fun but tough and had some learning for me about how one has to follow a few simple rules when running with other people as in a marathon or triathlon or at a small workout facility.

At iQuest for Feb and March, the workout has been stepped up to assist the 6:05 am team to meet their personal fitness goals.   And this is being done as a team.  We started with a benchmark fitness test, will work out hard and do another a fitness test to determine our progress, makes sense to me, Plan Do Check Act.  So this Thursday the workout was like a boot camp.   I guess this is the work out on Saturday’s at iQuest which I have not gone to.  What was interesting and what I wanted to write about is how “People form lines”.   The workout was done in partners, 1 partner started on the bike, the other on the turf and we would switch based on each cycle of running, squats, ladder, stairs etc.   On each loop the “on the ground” workout got longer before we returned to the comfy bike seat.   So this was fun, I know to some of you it doesn’t sound like fun, but there was lots of activity people warming up, some giving their all to the work out.   But what was interesting was how “People form lines”.   At the beginning the instructor said that we could “Pass in the middle” of the turf.   My thought was I don’t need to pass right now, we are just warming up.   But a few people were passing….    were they trying to get ahead?

Many years ago (Like 20) a friend suggested I read a Stephen King Short story….   a wiki summary is included here called “The Long Walk”.  It must have made an impression as I still remember the basics  of the Plot.   I was reminded of the nasty short story during the work out.   Basically during the work out, some people are more fit than others, and some people make a “choice” to put more into the 1 hour workout to meet their goals.  We each decide how, “Proactive” we will be during each workout.   There is someone who expends more calories, has a higher heart rate and gets thru the circuit faster.  In their workout they have achieve “THEIR GOAL”.  We are all striving for our goals.   My  2010 goal is to do a Sprint Triathlon, so doing a hard boot camp, constant motion, is a great work out.   SWIM, BIKE, RUN !!!!

The other thing I noticed is that over time in the work out people spread out.   There is space left between people, until someone slows down or a person gets re motivated with a burst of speed.   Now one has to look at passing.   And just like passing in a car, we need to stay in our lane or you run into someone.   And as I grow in experience of working out, I almost hit another person as we were coming and going from a door.  A lesson for the future to be clear on where I am in the line and be VERY careful in passing.   Only pass in an open area, like on the turf, where it was suggested.   I apologized several times for my lack of following the rules.

Here a summary from Stephen King:  (BEGIN COPY / PASTE)
Plot summary
One hundred teenage boys (picked at random from a large pool of applicants) participate in an annual walking contest called “The Long Walk.” Each Walker must maintain a speed of at least four miles per hour; if he drops below this speed for a total of 30 seconds (all at once or spread out over time), he receives a verbal warning. Walkers can eliminate a warning by walking for an hour without being warned. If, however, a Walker with three warnings slows down again, he is “ticketed”.

At the start of the book, the meaning of this term is intentionally kept vague, but soon after the start of the Walk it becomes clear that “buying a ticket” means to be shot dead by soldiers riding in halftracks that travel along the side of the road, monitoring the Walkers. A Walker with no warnings who begins to slow down has a total of two minutes’ leeway before being killed. However, Walkers may be shot immediately for certain serious violations, such as trying to leave the road or attacking the halftrack. The halftracks use electronic equipment to determine a Walker’s speed to the fourth decimal place.

The event is run by a character known only as “The Major,” who is the overseer of The Long Walk and is implied to have a great deal of power, stemming from a possible military or fascist state system. The Major appears at the beginning of the Walk to encourage the boys and start them on their way, and on occasions throughout the Walk. While he is initially greeted by the Walkers with awe and respect, they eventually realize their admiration has been misplaced and ridicule him in later appearances.

The Walk begins every year at 9:00 AM on April 30 at the Maine / Canada border and continues down the eastern coast of the United States until the winner is determined. There are no stops, rest periods, or established finish line during a Long Walk, which does not pause for any reason (including bad weather or darkness); the event only ends when one Walker is left alive. According to the established rules, the Walkers can only obtain aid from the soldiers monitoring them from the pacing halftracks. They may request a water canteen at any time, and food concentrates (apparently similar to the ones developed by NASA‘s space program) are distributed each day of the Walk at 9:00 am. Walkers may bring anything they can carry, including food or additional footwear, but are not allowed to receive any help from bystanders once the Walk begins. While they are not allowed to interfere with one another to eliminate another competitor, they are not prevented from helping each other, provided that they do not drop below four miles per hour.

The winner receives “The Prize”: anything he wants for the rest of his life.

It is implied that many past winners have died soon after the Walk, due to its hazardous mental and physical difficulties. The Long Walk is not only a physical trial, but a psychological one, as the Walkers are continually pressed against the idea of death and their own mortality. Contestants have actually tried to crawl at 4 mph in order to survive after their legs gave out. The story has several characters who suffer complete mental breakdown, one of whom kills himself by tearing out his own throat, and most characters experience some mental degeneration from the stress and lack of proper sleep.

The protagonist of the novel is Ray Garraty, a 16-year-old boy. Early on, Ray falls in with several other boys — including Peter McVries, Arthur Baker, Hank Olson, Collie Parker, Pearson, Harkness, and Abraham — who refer to themselves as “The Musketeers.” Another Walker — Gary Barkovitch — quickly establishes himself as an external antagonist, as he quickly angers his fellow walkers with multiple taunts of “dancing on their graves.” This results in the immediate death of a fellow walker, Rank, who is ticketed while trying to injure Barkovitch. Lastly, the most alluring and mysterious Walker is a boy named Stebbins. Through the Walk, Stebbins establishes himself as the loner, observing the ground beneath him as he listens to fellow Walkers’ complaints. The only character Stebbins truly interacts with is Ray Garraty, and their conversations allude to Alice in Wonderland as Garraty relates him to the Caterpillar. Stebbins, however, corrects him, and believes himself to be more of a White Rabbit type.

Along the road, the Walkers learn that one of their number, a kid named Scramm — who is initially the heavy odds-on favorite to win the Walk — is married. When Scramm gets pneumonia, the remaining Walkers agree that the winner will use some of the Prize to take care of his pregnant widow, Cathy.

During the Walk it is touched upon how members of the general public who interfere with the walkers in any way can receive an “Interference” ticket. The first instance was when the mother of a Walker named Percy tried, on several occasions, to get onto the road and find her son (by the time of her last attempt, he had already been killed for attempting to sneak off the road). Only the intervention of the local police kept her from being executed. The second instance was when a spectator’s dog ran across the road in front of the Walkers and was immediately shot.

Garraty becomes closest to Peter McVries, a boy with a prominent facial scar who speculates that his own reason for joining the walk was due to a subconscious death wish.

After five days and hundreds of miles, the Walk eventually comes down to Garraty and Stebbins, who reveals himself to be the illegitimate son of the Major. Stebbins stated he thought the major was unaware of his status because the major had numerous illegitimate children throughout the country; that proved to be false however, when Stebbins indicated that the Major set him up as the “rabbit” in the race to make the others walk further, akin to the mechanical rabbits used to motivate greyhounds in dog races. Stebbins’s plan, upon winning the Walk, was to ask to be “taken into [his] father’s house” as his prize. At the end of the book, Garraty decides to give up after realizing that Stebbins has shown almost no weaknesses over the duration of the Walk. Garraty catches up with Stebbins to tell him this, but before he can speak, Stebbins grabs his shirt, says “Oh, Garraty!”, collapses and dies; thus Garraty is declared the winner.

Unaware of the celebration going on around him, Garraty gets up from Stebbins’s side and walks on. He sees a jeep coming towards him, but thinks it a trespassing vehicle, and does not realize that in it is the Major coming to award him the victory. Garraty walks past the jeep towards an hallucination of a dark figure, not far ahead, beckoning Garraty towards him. The figure is familiar to Garraty, but he does not recognize it. He decides to get closer to find out which of the walkers he had yet to walk down. While the crowd cheers his name, Garraty walks on unhearing, trying to identify the dark figure. When a hand, possibly the Major’s, touches his shoulder, Garraty shakes it off impatiently. The figure beckons him to come and play the game, telling him to get started, that there is still far to walk. Unseeing now, Garraty walks towards the figure. When the hand reaches for his shoulder again, Garraty somehow finds the strength to run.

(END COPY / PASTE)  Now this is me writing.

Wow, you can find anything in the wiki these days, my memory of the details of this story were not much!!!!

Some other reading I wanted to note in this post, I was loaned the Prequel, Soul Cravings by Erwin Raphael Mcmanu and on p. 24 he is writing about love and “isms”.   Isms being forms of “irrelgions”  He says, “Don’t we want people, first and foremost, to be good?  If our goal is to get people to conform, you can accomplish that without love, but you can’t maintain a civilization without the rule of law.  What governments have not always been able to do, religions have accomplished with amazing effectiveness.  They keep people in line.”

This post title turned into, “People form lines”.  They just do.   Some are leaders, some are followers.   All of us have different skills and can execute a process better, faster, cheaper.  Competition is everywhere.  The question for another post will be related to Stephen Covery’s 7 Habits and Habit 6:  Synergize.  What is the overall team’s goal?  And how did the team do against that goal?


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