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3:33 Sports Short #39 // Running Through Wet Cement by Sam Price

I started running without headphones and music about a year ago. This is not some ‘how to improve your life by spending more time with your thoughts’ post. I have not improved my life in any perceptible way. I only listen to less music. Maybe even have fewer thoughts, for my mind was probably driven on by the lyrics and melodies. Now my mind, when running, wanders too far off and I am unable to receive messages from it.

I also started writing down the miles. I don't always log my weekly tally religiously on Sunday (my running week goes from Monday to Sunday, for no real reason). I keep the numbers in a corner of my mind, sometimes two or three weeks worth, before adding them to the complete log. I never look back on what I've written but take the notes regardless. I haven't, I should say. I might, one day, try to parse meaning from them. There must be a graph in there, a hypothesis to confirm or not. There must've been a change along the way or one in progress. The numbers and all this time must mean something.

Right now I have a strain on the top of my right foot. I've had hip flexor pain, knee stiffness, and other small injuries I've been able to run through or heal with simple rest. I take weeks off, thinking about my uncle who used to run 70 miles a week. He's had knee and hip surgeries and, even though he no longer runs, is still thin and talks mostly about marathons.

Early fall last year I was running through an industrial area and not thinking and I ran through wet cement. The two men who had recently poured and smoothed the cement—though not put up any caution tape or warning signs around it—were sitting on their truck. They yelled at me in Spanish. I had ran two or three long strides into the wet cement before I realized what was happening, my feet suddenly heavy and sticky, and so I had to run three or four more steps in order to get out since I'd ended up basically in the middle of the new, still forming driveway.

Out of the cement, I yelled that I was sorry and continued to run. A minute or so later, I wiped my shoes off as best I could on some grass and weeds. I wasn't yet out of sight but they weren't following me. I wondered what the rest of their day would be like after I'd set them behind. They'd be late for dinner, maybe, their work piling up.

I told some friends this story, or a similar version of it, maybe as an example of my empty-headedness or the strangeness of the world we find ourselves in or as some extended metaphor regarding not realizing the strangeness because we are constantly immersed in imperceptible distraction. They responded politely, as friends do.

Sam Price lives in Philadelphia, PA.