I decided to run again.
So simple. What’s to it but to start running? To not stop?
After I’d paid my registration fee for the race, after I’d plotted an early-to-bed, early-to-rise sleep schedule and a diet that revolved around kale and Gatorade, and after that initial hamstrings-calves-shins-knees-back-abdominal stretch, I set sneakers to pavement.
My knees ached first, a half-mile in. I’d known this pain before and kicked through it.
At the first mile marker, I sucked wind, a familiar burning in my lungs. Big deal! It’s called conditioning!
My left inner arch throbbed—this was new.
I finished that run. Built on weekend runs to follow. Ran the damn race, only stopping to walk once.
I told my friend that was my last long run. He called me a lot of things. The kind of wuss-pussy-chicken-old timer bullshit that makes younger men somehow believe that giving in to the pressure is the braver choice. I watched him jog away to the beer tent. Walked a few strides, then basked in standing still, in sitting, in that last good stretch.
Michael Chin was born and raised in Utica, New York and writes and teaches in Corvallis, Oregon. He won the 2014 Jim Knudsen Editor’s Prize for fiction from the University of New Orleans and has previously published work in over twenty journals including Bayou Magazine, The Rappahannock Review, and The Pacific Review, and currently works as the managing editor for the new journal, 45th Parallel. Find him online at miketchin.com and on Twitter @miketchin.