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3:33 Sports Short #38 // My Feat by Shanda Connolly

My feet.  All I felt right now was the pain in my feet.  My mind was centered on it.  For the last two hours, I had been running up a steep clay and gravel road with no shade from the relentless sun.  Now, I was on the other side of the mountain, and my thighs wobbled as I ran down a field of flat gray boulders.  I looked at the ground in front of me and followed the white chalk arrows.  There was no one else in sight.  My feet felt like they were swollen to twice their normal size and throbbed in agony.  The pain from the giant blister on my right heel had settled into a dull ache.  It registered in the back of my brain along with the other aches in my legs and my hips that, together, comprised the symphony of aches accompanying the loud, screaming pain of my feet. 

People thought I was crazy to run an ultra marathon.  “Why!?” they asked.  I stopped trying to explain, though.  I had chosen “Bulldog.”  It was a 50-kilometer run on Labor Day through the Santa Monica Mountains in Malibu Creek State Park, which was usually over 100 degrees at this time of year, and had an elevation gain of 8,500 feet.  Later, I was told that the highest temperature for the course this year was 108 degrees.

Six months prior, I took my first step when I left my boyfriend’s tiny bungalow that he’d been renting.  Someday, he’d make big money in his job; someday, he’d pay off his credit cards; someday, he wouldn’t smoke so much weed; someday, he'd put a ring on my finger and we’d get married; someday, we’d have a home of our own; someday, we’d have kids.  After several years, I was trapped in time.  I stood still and watched the rest of the world move on.  Friends married and started families.  Loved ones died.  I struggled to face the loneliness and sadness from letting go of another relationship.  But I did.  

After that, even though I hadn't run for months, I put on my running shoes and ran a slow mile.  Then, I ran another mile.  Soon, I was running five miles at a time.  Then, ten and twenty. 

At the start line, I hoped I’d have a spiritual epiphany, like an Aborigine in walkabout.  I had been running for nearly eight hours.  I could see the orange flags marking the finish line as I slogged along the baked clay trail, but I still hadn't seen any burning bushes or Jesus’s face on the side of a mountain.  Then, it hit me:  it was over now and I was okay.  I finally understood what I needed to know the most. 

Shanda Connolly is a writer living in Los Angeles and working as an attorney. Her fiction has been featured in the New Fiction Series, The Rumpus, barnesandnoble.com, and Door Is a Jar. Her play, “Sis Is Dying," was performed in 2007 at the Fountain Theatre in Los Angeles. She has attended Jim Krusoe’s writing workshop at Santa Monica College for the last seven years, and she attended the 2011 Squaw Valley writers workshop.”