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Short Shadow Running Club

A Limited Furlough

Everything just went white, and I was blinded for a few seconds. Gradually, things started coming back, and when I could see again, I was back in the real world.

Log entry 2:

Today was different. Well, whatever today means in a world where the sun never moves. Anyway, I was running along the highway, like I always do, and then I had another one of those whiteouts. This time there was no pain in my chest, and I never stumbled while running. Everything just went white, and I was blinded for a few seconds. Gradually, things started coming back, and when I could see again, I was back in the real world.

Sort of. It looked like real world, but there were no people. There were cars, but none of them were moving. I was still running, just like I always do, but now I was doing it on one of my old running routes from real life.

When I was still alive, my whole family ran. My wife, both kids, and I all loved to run, and over time we developed several routes near our house that we referred to by different names. Our earliest route was called the Mom Route. It was a little more than three miles long and not very hilly. Therefore, it was by far the easiest of our regular routes.

Next was the Dad Route. This one was just shy of three miles long and quite hilly. I would rate this one as medium difficulty, and most of my runs in real life were on this route.

Finally, there was the Shirley Route. When I wanted to do some serious training, I ran Shirley. It was both the longest, at three and a quarter miles, and most challenging of our routes. The name came from the nastiest of its numerous hills. My son and I liked to name difficult hills, and of all the hills that we ever decided deserved a moniker, Shirley was the toughest. It was twice as long The Killer and three times as steep as Laughing Hill.

Today, when I was transported back to that real-ish world, I was running the Shirley route. I was so exhilarated to be back home and out of the desert, that I immediately picked up my pace. A few seconds later, as ‘Breaking into Heaven’ by the Stone Roses started playing I realized I was at the beginning of one of my favorite workout playlists, so I kicked it up another notch.

The next song on this all Stone Roses playlist was ‘Driving South,’ and as it started, any thought of slowing down was quickly pushed away. A challenging stretch, in the form of a pair of hills called Poppy and Poppy Jr. loomed ahead, and the Stone Roses version of the old Crossroads legend helped me tackle them aggressively. Switching seamlessly between air drumming and air guitaring, I ran through my old neighborhood like no one was watching.

The third tune in the queue was ‘Fools Gold.’ During this nearly ten-minute epic, I usually find myself zoning out a bit, and today was no exception. Lost in my thoughts, I covered the middle part of the route in a haze. Then, before I knew it, I was turning left onto Shirley St. and facing the biggest hill in town. ‘Fools Gold’ wasn’t done yet, and it provided the beat, while my legs continued to pump. Slowly and steadily, I climbed the hill, trying not to look up. Finally, I made it to the top, and that familiar feeling of accomplishment was like seeing and old friend.

With Shirley behind me, I had three hills left, and one more song; ‘Love Spreads.’ This worthy finishing track was the perfect one to give me a push towards the final hill, the Killer. In real life, it was a family tradition to end all of our runs by climbing our first named hill, and today was no different.

Another tradition was for my son and I to race up the killer. It took him years to beat me for the first time because I would never just let him win; I always tried my hardest. When he finally did do it, after all those other attempts, I like to think that he enjoyed it more; because he truly earned it. At least I hope so.

Anyway, when I was running up the Killer today, I realized that my time in the real world was about to end. I thought about slowing my pace so I could delay the inevitable, but I knew I couldn’t do that. I had never slowed down on the Killer before, and today seemed like a bad time to start. Instead, I dug down deep and found the energy for one more push.

As I crested the Killer and finished the route, I looked at my watch to check my time. As usual, I couldn’t see past the glare to see the digital readout, but it didn’t matter. I knew I had made good time. I could just feel it.

A moment later, there was another whiteout, and when it faded back out, I was once again running in the desert.

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