Leaning into the stretch, his leg raised onto the railing, he prepared for his run. The tension in his ankle and calf felt good. Feeling the tingling of the movement all the way to his groin, he shifted his weight and then his leg. Bringing his right foot up. Bending at the waist he pulled his shoelaces tight as he stretched.

Stepping down to his driveway he fell into a lunge, then another, pressing his weight downward into the ground and sinking in briefly. Closing his eyes, be breathed deeply: belly expanding out, chest raising, then a heavy and long exhale.

The run began a bit quicker than expected; after about a minute of bobbing up and down his pace slowed. Trying to control his momentum and reeling in his speed. His feet slapped the ground in rythm, his breath burning in sync. Each inch was another victory, another moment of bliss and freedom. Each inhale, pained or not, was another assurance: he was alive.

The ache began slowly, first in his side, then extending outward across him. He focused, concentrating around the stitch growing within and tried to shift his weight. Varying the way his feet fell until he felt better. Pushing through the pain and making it a few more steps, then another. Slowly gaining confidence that he could make it. That he could push through and beat his record.

He limped slightly, leading with one leg and swinging his arm for momentum. Trying desperately to not stop. His pace slowing, he strove to keep on. Engaged in a battle with himself, he began trash-talking. Self deprecating in an effort to motivate. Asking himself if he was worth it, if he could do it, if he was going to let himself give up.

He passed it, the mark where he knew he had stopped before. Like a second wind the pleasure of victory swept through him. An accomplishment for no one but himself, he had managed it, he had persevered and broken his personal record. The bob and sway in his step continued for another minute before the aching pain in his side forced him to slow. The thud of his heart in his ears loud and roaring with each pump of blood.

Slowing, his pace moved down to jogging, then edged into a fast walk, finally into a walk, and at last, he collapsed on the sidewalk panting. Worn, beaten, but pleased.

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