Proper Punctuation

There was a moment today
When what I thought I knew
Proved only to be a memory,
Long held over for at least a decade or so
And erased in the course of a few seconds.

See, a ways back in my life,
The Fairthorn hill was only sort of tough,
That was until you reached the STOP sign.
From there it was a walk to the peak.
All these years later, now it’s a run to the top,
Walking isn’t “allowed” until the downslope.

I was thinking about that little bit of road,
Fairthorn and how much better it is than Sickle
When I got all pandemic courteous
And started weaving around a mother-daughter pair
Before mentally mapping how I would navigate
The lone walker up ahead.

Back when Fairthorn stopped short,
There was a runner who did all the crazy stuff I’ve entertained,
Longer and longer, that’s what I’ve been thinking,
Which is exactly how that dude ran years ago,
Gumpian, out early, out at lunch, out in the evening
He ran so much and was so disciplined
He could tell how fast you were running just by watching.

I checked out from the group for awhile,
He kept traversing the earth,
In ten years, I’ve maybe seen him three or four times.
I assumed he was out there chasing the eagles
While I toyed with the idea of going long,
Of pushing my limits into that thin air.

As I approached, Locust, there he was, the walker.
Once he had been a runner, not twisted into a question mark,
His pace, something he probably never thought he was capapble of,
Was approaching cane or walker slow,
Which was off pace for a guy who used to grind the miles away.

We exchanged runner-social-distancing pleasantries, I turned on
Locust, a longish hill, where there’s normally a walk break
Which I never take when I’m solo and especially today
After seeing my old running partner hobbling down the road.
I thought of him, the uncertainty I felt, and the whispers began,
“That’s not you, mofo, get moving.”

I couldn’t help it, a runner’s mind sometimes runs away.
Controlling those thoughts when the doubt comes or
The negative distractions of excuses and fatigue
Combine to make quitting easier,
Isn’t that really the battle of being a runner?
Half way up Locust and just before Fairthorn
My mind was leaving me with little hope of continuing.

Yet, as I made the turn,
Thinking of my old partner’s chant of “chop, chop, chop,”
As he would baby step his way up any steep hill,
I found a way to pay attention to the whispers
Instead of the grammatical shape of my old friend
And the idea that I could be on his path.

The stop sign passed, barely even on my radar,
The 82-bridge felt new, I hadn’t run across it since March,
The end was nothing but a “walk in the park.”
Still, I’m wondering if the ultra game is for me.
I suppose I’ll let that stay open-ended for awhile.

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