I try to run as often as I can. Sometimes that may be only once or twice a week, perhaps every other week; still, though, I try my darnedest, and I suppose that’s what counts.

I went on a run today. Three miles. Average. Felt pretty good, healthy.

It’s been getting to be damn hard, though, if I’m gonna be honest. The will of wanting to run–well, it has its ups and downs; most of the time, I am forcing myself to do the deed. Makes it sound like an illegal act, or something, when, in all actuality, running helps keep me sane.

I saw a dead rabbit while running. Its fur was matted with water splashed up from passing cars; and it just lay there, eyes empty, tiny mouth agape. Looked like a ruined washcloth with shriveled paws.

This rabbit was on the side of the road, an empty, empty road. Must have been fresh, since the birds hadn’t taken their pickings yet; but I gotta say, I–I didn’t like seeing the emptiness in its eyes.

It wasn’t petrified–how could it be scared for its life when it was likely taken within a few seconds? It was…just…dead. That’s one of the scariest things to see in life, you know, something that’s had its life snipped at the seam–in an instant.

Blammo. And nothing left.

Didn’t help there were crows watching me from roofs, groups of them circling high in the sky. I remember one large crow, its head appearing as if shrouded beneath this black shawl, talons scratching at the fence post on which it roosted. It stared at me as I passed the dead rabbit. Those beady button eyes stared directly at me; and the rest of the crow made no movement at all. The thing sat hunched there, brooding; hell, maybe it was waiting to swoop across and gut its newfound meal.

I don’t know.

But I didn’t like it.

Birds were everywhere when I walked back home, a flock in one tree, three or more crows perched on roof after roof; and, looking around, all I could see were the birds with their noise and their silence.

Felt like Christmastime, all the lights out upon the houses, twinkling, buzzing; and not a footprint to be seen on snowy streets, nor a fracture of firelight from within one of the houses encroached in shadow, only the winged predators dragging their talons across roof tiles.

I would say it was reminiscent of Hitchcock, but what I can gather mentally from that experience is–

Is that it felt creepy.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

Give It Up.

I want to tell you guys something, something special.

When I was a freshman in high school, I ran Track. I have gone over the sport in an earlier post, told you all about how much fun it was to belt out a two mile an hour after a mile–and I’m sure some of you think I’m being sarcastic when I say that, but, unfortunately for you, I am not.

The team was–well, I wouldn’t really call it a team in the first place. We were the Distance Runners, the Sprinters, the Throwers, and the Jumpers, not specifically a Track team. We had our class sections, too, the Freshman and the Seniors, being the most separated of those ranks.

It wasn’t only the students, either. The coaches didn’t see eye-to-eye on most things; in fact, most talked behind one another’s backs–and so, it transferred to the students, creating a whirlpool of bad attitude and glum that made running not fun at times.

Of course, I was new, had no idea what the team was like; but, even then, I didn’t give a shit about some invisible system run by people who had had it run for them, and them before; and it probably went back and back. Who knows? All I knew was that it felt weird.

I went about my routine for a while, and ran races as was expected during the season, but throughout the whole thing, I was observing and gaining insight on this overbearing atmosphere, not liking it too much. The different events never interacted with each other. If they did, it always turned into an insult battle: who works harder…who has the tougher workouts…

Before I delve further, I want to clarify that I myself succumbed to this attitude for a time , enough to make me sick and attempt to abandon the ideals that had been planted in my young mind. It was a battle progressing into sophomore year, but I at last broke it this year, after a period of self-enforced solitude for junior year.

Anyways, it sucked. Lines had to have seniors leading them, even if it meant stepping in front of the freshman already standing there; the events engaged in horrible arguments, calling names–again, even the coaches joined in, behind the scenes; and there were derogatory comments tossed around from one end of the track to the other, so you couldn’t escape them.

That was what got me. The derogatory comments.

If a senior said openly the freshmen will not be making it to State, I got pissed. So, they thought the team wasn’t skilled enough to carry its talent through the classes, and what exactly gave them that authority? Their experience? Could they see into the future? If so, then my school should have invested in a Clairvoyant course, all psychics to the front of the class.

I hate it when the upper echelon tells the lower echelon what it can and cannot do.

I hate that there are echelons.

Why not join up, be a team, to inspire others with your camaraderie?

Why not, instead of saying, “give it up,” say, “give it all?”

I wish I had spoken up, but I was a freshman who thought his words meant nothing. I sat back and watched, sure; however, I also learned, and I spent time preparing what I would want to change about our team, to make it a team. There were successes, also failures–but I kept striving forward, despite the view of others that the team could not and would not change.

As a senior, it is great to see the change implementing itself–as they always say–slowly but surely. The team is a team, for the most part. There are some kinks here and there, but they have a long time to straighten out the hose.

I only hope it will stay straight.

Think daily,

A Southpaw


Running: A Short Tribute

This is officially my last year of running competitively in school, that means no more Cross Country or Track in college or anywhere else for that matter. Why? I’m thinking I’ll be a little busy writing stories while attaining a degree–doing fourteen miles a day and stretching takes away some precious time.

That said, I wanted to perform a sort of tribute to the whole shebang of running like a maniac–and some people do call me a crazy man. The feelings never seem to go away, which is what I’m clinging to, hoping I’ll at least remember some of my best races when I’m in my seventies and living in a retirement home.

I have had my fair share of good times and places; but, to me, what matters most is the race itself. The pounding of hundreds of shoes on the dirt or the asphalt or the track. Heavy breathing right behind you, or even beside you. An explosion in your chest: the aftermath of a thousand atomic bombs detonated inside your lungs.

See, I started running in seventh grade. It was not at first my choice; in actuality, my mother persuaded me to join the Cross Country team at my middle school. This meant instead of spending weekends playing video games and/or reading, I had to be out on the road, with my mom, jogging a mile and a half. I would hardly even call my style jogging–at the point I was about as fast a hog when it sees a corn cob on the other side of its sty. My mom beat me every time we went outside.

Then, I joined the Cross Country team, a newbie with glasses and a horrid running form; and, of course, I got fifth place on Varsity. Wait, what? Rewind. You made Varsity as a runner with no experience and the worst form of all the members on the team? Insane! Impossible!

Yes, exact same thing I said; but, guess what, once I got the place, I was determined to keep it, even if it meant tripping over a hill at my first race and scraping my arm–hey, I didn’t cry–and finishing at about the middle of the pack. But it was exhilarating. I wanted to go again and again and again. And I told myself I would…until somebody told me I could not.

Hint: they never did.

I found some of my best friends, even I’d say, my best friend, while running. They stuck by me. I stuck by them. We had fun–excuse me, are still having fun; although, not all of my friends have stayed the line of running. That doesn’t mean we’re not still friends–but now I can’t fart everywhere and have them punch me on the arm.

Back in middle school, about a year after I started running, I was one of the top dogs, along with a couple of my friends, and I felt like the bomb. But don’t we all? Then cut to high school. Instantly my throne was shattered and I became a frightened puppy because the hounds were whupping my ass.

I had to relearn what it felt like to be tiny, a smaller runner in the shadow of those better runners; but one thing I never did was tell myself I could not beat them. So what they were faster now? Give me some time and I’d be right beside them, maybe ahead of them. A couple I did beat. Others I did not beat. I still gave it my best shot at each go.

That’s what I tell the other runners to do–to give it their all and not care whether another guy is faster than them, because it is in them to be faster than the opposite runner. I know most look up to me now, things like that humble you, they really do; and it is always hilarious to watch how shocked they are to find out I was in their shoes when I first started.

This is to those runners.

This is to Cross Country.

This is to Track.

This is to anyone who told me I could do whatever I wanted.

I’ll miss you.

Thank you.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

Note: I’m the one who looks like he got punched in the gut.



Writing is the New Running

It should be obvious by now: I like to write. If I hated writing I would not do it; however as it is my favorite hobby I devote what little time I have to its pursuance–perhaps one day as a career. It is calming and acts as a source of release for me; all the pent up issues in a day are blown out in 500 or 600 words a night.

But you know what else is calming?

Running five six or miles. You know how it feels to strap on your shoes–okay, who actually straps on shoes? we all have laces for a reason–and leave your driveway or apartment staircase and go jogging inside a mental marshmallow. At first you may hate this feeling–and then you will grow to love the runner’s high received from running comfortably for a long period of time. It has nothing to do with drugs.

The thing is, running and writing are not as separate as they seem: they both require excessive mental endurance; they both act as forms of release from stress–although some stories can be stressful–and for both pacing is key.

What do I mean by pacing?

A story needs conflict and character–action and rest.

A race needs sprinting and running–action and rest.

To master each form you must understand them. I’m not about to spout some Mr. Miagi be-one-with-the-story junk; but when excelling in writing and running you have been through the ringer with them; you have sat down next them on the bus and fired up an emotional conversation in which both parties shed at least one tear; and you have been versed in all of their likes and dislikes throughout life.

This sounds more serious than it is, you say. Perhaps on that you are right, but are you willing to step out there and get to know these activities, to cherish them fully for what they not only appear to be but truly are?

Running and writing are buddies; their friendship is unmatchable even on the standards of Frodo and Sam…or the pilots in Top Gun. If you happen to do both take them out to dinner some time and observe the fluidity arising from their sudden union. Buy writing breadsticks…and get running a platter of salad–he is always on about his diet.

And get this, I ask him, “Hey, Running, you want some chocolate cake?” He turns slowly in his sweaty singlet and gym shorts–all the while he is staring with those grassy eyes of his–and replies, “Have you forgotten I am in your head? You’re not even talking to a real person!”

Joke’s on him, I guess…

Bye for now. I’m going to invite Drawing to the art museum–he’s a quiet guy.

Think daily,

A Southpaw