Stripped Down

Imagine you’re looking through a collection of short stories. One of the titles catches your interest. That’s the story you want to read first. What might the title be? Invent a title that would make you want to read the story. Now, write a story to go with that title…

Day 3 of Creative Writing Now‘s 30 Days of Inspiration

Everything hurts.

Those muscles wrapping around the inner knee and climbing up the inner thigh, what are they called? Adductors? Sartorius? Yeah, that started aching around the mid-20 mile mark. What about that muscle deep into the outer glutes? Piriformis? This muscular mantra distracts you for a few minutes. Too much thought about pain can send you into the darkness.


The technical shirt that seemed a good idea in the dark, chilly pre-dawn hours that made your nipples chafe and bleed around the 13 mile mark. Why were you so cheap about that shitty five-dollar-Target-special shirt? You finally ditched it at the first aid station. You might see it again at the finish line, or perhaps an aid-station worker will be grossed out by its vile smell and chuck it in the trash. The wind on your bare chest is so much better. It’s unfortunate that ladies don’t get to experience that. Effing patriarchy.

42 miles out of 50. You’ve done this before and you can do it again, but this moment, this combination of mental and physical defeat. This is the part that gets forgotten. You can’t hold on to this sort of pain when you’re finished. It deserves to be let go. It sticks around raw and real for a few weeks, convincing you that you’ll never click that signup button on another long race. Ever. Again.

Eight miles is a normal training run in a normal week, but with 42 previous miles stacked up behind it, it seems anything other than normal. It is time slowed down and stretched out and bent. It is the distillation of self-doubt or confidence or the depth of your physical self. You are stripped down.

Your run is really more of a shuffle. Hills are blessed, because they justify the slight slowing of your shamble to an outright walk. Up the hill. Now, the hardest thing is the top of the hill when you speed your shuffle back up to a slow run. Not a jog, I hate that word. Jogging. It just brings up all these polyester 80’s sweat-band visions.


Somehow three more miles and another aid station has passed. The last aid station worker saw you drift away from the table, return and called you by name-bibs with your name are handy that way.

“Are you okay? Can I help you with something?”

“I just can’t remember if I took those salt tabs or not. I’ll take them for a bit down the trail. Thanks for being here.”

Five miles to go. The late afternoon sun is dappling through the canopy making the forest seem so much prettier than it should.

Craig is practicing his writing daily and enjoys feedback of the constructive sort. He’s run a couple of 50 milers, a few more 50k’s and some of those normal distance races. He’s really hoping to run the Whiskey Basin 57k in his future hometown of Prescott, AZ.



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