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Sample from Running Club Short Story

Running Club

The people at work call me by my first name, but you can call me Runner.

I’m not the fastest there is, but I’ve come in second to the Norwegian three years in a row at our annual 5k race, and that means that I’m not the slowest there is either. At least that’s what I keep telling myself as I step onto the cracked asphalt trail and look up at the almost full moon. The path’s overgrown here and there but not too bad—a five mile expanse of old train rails once turned into a biking path that our club now maintains in secret. Gives us a place where it’s relatively safe to run.

With only two weeks until the big race, I depress the button on my vintage GPS watch that I unearthed at the antique mall, and I’m off and running through the cool night. I start off gently for the first mile and slowly build up speed as I check all my systems. Legs. Breathing. Stomach. Temperature. Potential hot spots. Achilles slowly warming up and stretching. Everything seems in order. Despite its age, the watch face still lights up when I press the button, and I can see that I’m steady cruising around a seven minute pace. Not bad for a guy with a desk job who only gets to run clandestinely at night a few times a week.

I let the illuminated face dim, and I’m back to seeing everything by blue moon light. I own a headlamp, but I like running without it as often as possible. Makes me feel more like a human. Like an animal. Plus, it’s safer this way. Harder for the healthcare authorities to spot me.

My father used to talk about the days when running and exercising were all the rage. When everyone was either a runner, a biker, belonged to a gym, or took a group exercise class. My heart speeds up a bit just thinking about it. Entire rooms full of people exercising out in the open. I can barely fathom the concept. Sometimes, it was hard to believe my dad at all, like he was just making it all up as he approached the chaotic times of his last days. Assuming he was telling the truth, things today certainly are different. So far, the Big Three haven’t been able to get the government to make exercise completely illegal, but running in public is outlawed at night around here. And if you do it during the daylight hours, you won’t be breaking any laws, but you’ll still go on their list as someone who engages in dangerous behavior.

Makes me feel stupid at times for risking so much just so I can get my kicks, so to speak, but I’m careful. I run with a group of people whom I trust (literally) with my life. My running club.

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Thanks, Mike

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