Piece of my lung

Battered sneakers

Note: I have joined a writing group that is a bunch of fun! Requirements are that the story has to be exactly 300 words. There are also three required words that the moderator of the group chooses – the very first word of the story and two others. I’ll put those words in bold. Enjoy!

Persistence,’ I say to myself as if just the word can propel me forward. I watch each foot rise and fall, rise and fall, getting lost in the rhythm of it. Only another block, I think, keeping my head down and listening to blood rush through my ears.

Or should I keep my head up? I must be crazy. New to this running game, I’m not sure I’m doing it right. My running shoes are mostly used for yard work – gardening, raking, pruning hydrangeas, weed pulling.

My lungs ache and the pounding in my head is so bad, for a moment I think I might have a stroke or just trip and fall in the street, face down, like a drunk stumbling out of a tavern.

‘Breathe!’ I tell myself. It would feel so great to just lay myself down on the cool evening pavement, I muse.

That was the first time I decided to run as serious exercise. I believed I was in great shape. In my late-thirties, I had an eye on the prize of simply accomplishing a 5K race. How hard could it be?

‘Incredibly hard’ was my answer after I ran a short thousand feet that steamy June night. My goal was to run to the President Ronald Reagan statue near my home. Just a thousand feet. Head up the street and turn right. Piece of cake. I think I lost a piece of my lung that night.

Persistence paid off. One foot in front of the other, baby steps – I used all the clichés. I learned to love the sport. I have run 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons. I haven’t wrapped my mind around a full marathon, though. It’s something I just can’t envision the finish line. After all, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

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