On Running

by Jim Farrar (1985)

Why do I torture myself like this? If it's for some abstract sense of well-being, then I'm certainly not feeling it right now. Maybe it's the Big Thirst, maybe it's a way of rationalizing the two beers I'm going to drink at the end of the third mile, when I collapse, wheezing and moaning like the village drunk in some Irish novel, on the living room couch. And I won't feel like drinking the damn beer, either.

Where am I? Have I reached the bridge yet? I always know I'll finish the run when I can make it past the bridge. Something's on fire and I think it's my lungs. You'd think that after five years I'd get used to this, but it hurts as much as it did the first time. The only difference is that I've come to enjoy the pain (such is the nature of it). And my shoes have gotten more expensive. This is a fool's sport. I hate it.

Oh good, the gravel road. Last mile. Think of something else. Usually music is playing in my head, a rhythm that matches my footfalls. You know, I used to run by a hospital. I figured it'd be handy if I collapsed. But it's not my heart I worry about now, it's my goddamned feet. My ankle could go any second. If I get chased by that dog again, I'll never make it.

One more alley and I'll be home. I can hardly breathe, but I know I've won it. Funny, you do battle with yourself---and win---then other obstacles start to pale. Must have something to do with endorphins. I don't know. All I know is how it feels: it's life and death, and then life again, all in thirty minutes. And I know I'll be out here again tomorrow. I won't know why. It doesn't matter.

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