It started with a couple exhausting, painful miles. I had been an athlete for fourteen years, but running was a different beast. It gave no quarter.
Exhausted, I wondered how anyone could engage in this kind of senseless self/flagellation on a regular basis. This beast had fangs and didn't back down. It would make you bleed.
While I was wobbly, I was still standing. My armor was dinged, but not terribly dented. I licked my wounds and sharpened my spears.
I ran far and wide. I ran long hills left me gasping. I braved the bitter cold in preparation for my next encounter with the beast.
I would be tougher. I would be stronger. I would not fold.
The beast had gotten the better of me the first time around. Maybe I hadn't taken it seriously the first time. This mistake would not be repeated.
I would be ready for the next encounter. I slogged through a withering hill visualizing the beast staring at me. It licked its teeth eager to test me, eager to end me.
I stared back defiantly. I tried to convey quiet confidence. Fierce and hungry this beast was, but invincible it wasn't. It could bleed too.
But, the questions persisted. Was I ready to bleed to win? Was I ready to suffer in order to move forward?
The only way I could know for sure was to stand toe to toe again. So, I found myself staring again at the beast. In a few short minutes, we would lock horns again.
The quiet before the storm was deafening. This would be a slugfest. It would not be pretty.
But, there is little about running that is pretty. It more often involves being tough, being patient, and sometimes being beastly.
The game was afoot. I kept stride. I reveled in the knowledge that I would draw blood one way or the other. Win or lose, my adversary would not forget me.
Nor would I forget to take nothing for granted. Predictably, no quarter was given. Predictably, we both drew blood.
I careened towards the finish line with the breath of the beast hot down my neck. Fatigue took a backseat as I realized I was inches from the next step.
I let it all out. What little I had left was spent. Mercifully, it ended.
The beast was at my feet. I had felled it. I would live to run another day.
In the distance, I saw storm clouds. I heard thunder. I could not linger long.
Something bolder was out there. Something tougher was out there. Something bigger was out there.
I run because there are bigger beasts to slay...