It was 104 degrees outside, according to the thermometer on the dashboard of my car Tuesday afternoon when I was headed home on Falcon Drive from the newspaper office. As I reached the curve as the street heads south toward Avenue 16, I saw a sight that made me slow down and gawk. A young man, probably in his early 20s, was running along the side of the street, wearing only shorts and tennis shoes.
I thought: How can he stand that heat? He’ll burn. He must be ready to melt.
He reached the curve in the road about the same time I did. I waved at him, and he waved back. Then, as I drove on, I saw him drop to the pavement.
I thought: He’s collapsed. All that effort, in all that heat. It must have been too much.
I hit my brakes, ready to back up and help. I hoped my cellphone was charged so I could call 911.
But then I saw why he was on the pavement: He was doing pushups, and he wasn’t doing them like I do them on the rare occasion when I give them a try. He was going fast. He was doing about four pushups in the time it would have taken me to think about doing one. And it was still 104 degrees outside.
He obviously didn’t need my help, so I drove on. I turned onto Kennedy Street, then turned again down Granada, where I saw more joggers, some of whom were women pushing baby strollers. I checked the car thermometer. It was still 104. As I crossed the Fresno River bridge, I saw more joggers on the river trail.
I thought to myself as I turned east on Riverview Drive: Are these people crazy?
And then I remembered: It’s the Olympics. People are watching all this athleticism at the Olympics, and it’s catching. They’re all going Olympics crazy. Except for me, of course. I turned the air-conditioning fan up a notch and made sure all the car windows were tightly closed. After all, it still was 104 out there.