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The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Soggy Sneakers

So its 730 in the morning and I just got back from a five mile run in the pouring rain. Not exactly how I had hoped to spend my first Monday morning back at school. In fact I had hoped to spend it in a state of sleep and dreaming. Unfortunately on this morning I was forced to clamber out of my warm bed, throw on a long sleeve Under Armour shirt and some sweats, and drive to school to meet up with the rest of my lacrosse team. Today was day one of hell week.

The gargantuan modules of rain that bombed from the sky and splattered on the pavement didn’t have any impact on my coaches’ decision; we were running this week, and we were running hard. We all met in the covered parking lot, temporarily safe from the bombarding torrential downpour. With sleepy eyes and cold limbs we formed lines and went through our stretches. I made sure to pay careful attention to each muscle I would be using while on the run. I bent this way and leaned that way to ensure I warmed up my hamstrings, calves, gluts, and quadriceps.

When stretching finished we gathered together as a team and hesitantly jogged toward the exit of the parking garage. It was difficult to see beyond the entrance because the sun hadn’t yet come up over the eastern skyline and a wall of rain had formed as if a waterfall were cascading off the top of the garage. I hesitated for a moment and then lowered my head into the falling rain. It was instantly cold and my mood had dropped from tired and annoyed to freezing and pissed off.

It wasn’t long before I had gotten used to the temperature of falling water and I found myself falling into rhythm. My green and orange Adidas running shoes splashed the ground steadily like a metronome. My breathing and heartbeat also began to settle down and I could feel the pounding on my chest like a big bass drum.

A mile in and I couldn’t tell if I was sweating yet. I was certainly wet and I had warmed up, but I was so wet from the rain that I began wondering if my pores could even let anything out. I had never imagined drowning on dry land but today seemed just as a good a day as any. I tried, without success, to avoid giant puddles that had formed on the underside of the bluff, and I contemplated if fish would have been able to survive in these growing murky ponds.

By mile two I began to feel the pain of the run, and I realized how out of shape I had gotten over break. Who would have thought that drinking beer on the couch while watching football could possibly make you fat? Or maybe all of those afternoon naps I took were to blame. Who was it that told me you burn more calories when you sleep? They were either incredibly stupid or knew I was.

Mile three arrives and I am contemplating several things. The first thing I am contemplating is whether or not too quit. The second is how I can cheat. And the third is what the hell is a runner’s high and who the hell likes this kind of torture.

Mile four and I’ve hit a runner’s high. I feel like a bunny in springtime. I’ve suddenly got boatloads of energy. I seem to have caught my breath and my legs have new life. So this is why all those loonies are out at 630 in the morning going for a run. Oh wait that’s me. And I guess they’ve got other reasons too. Lose some lbs, tighten up that caboose, and above all be able to catch their breath as they scale fifteen sets of stairs to their shitty daytime job. That’s gonna be me soon and since this is my last year playing lacrosse I’m gonna be the fat ass huffing and puffing at the top while I try to stuff down a last minute powdered donut.

Mile five and the high is gone, and I’m dying again. I can’t feel my legs, more water is coming in my mouth than oxygen, and my shoes feel like they’ve got water balloons in them. The final hill is a killer. I’m running so slowly up the thing at this point that I can’t tell if I’m actually moving or not. At one point the scenery seems to pass me and I realize its an old woman in a wheelchair being pushed by her husband with an umbrella keeping them dry (I’m honestly embarrassed). So I pick up the pace and improve from two miles an hour, normal walking pace, to about three and half, obviously a great improvement. I see the garage ahead, and as I pull in side some relief comes over me. I’m finally out of the rain and only a few hundred yards from finishing the run and making my way back to my warm bed. I see some of my teammates ahead who have beaten me and as I pull up next to them I stop and rest my hands over my head. That wasn’t too bad I think to myself. The first morning of hell week is over. How much worse could it get? Such a dumb thing to ask myself because it got a lot worse. Little did I realize that I would be running sprints for an hour straight in the gym that very afternoon.

Hayden Fulstone


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