If You See Me Running (a playlist)

June 2022 Flash Challenge, Day 7

Photo by Alessio Soggetti on Unsplash

1. Eminence Front, The Who (5 minutes 38 seconds)

I am walking north on Pebble Vale.

I start the GPS watch. Start week 7, program number 1 on my C25K app. I load my playlist and start it playing.

The crisp jingle of piano keys segues nicely into a steady drumbeat, a beat later a sturdy, throbbing bass-line, then a second guitar. I’m guessing. I don’t know music. But this is just a fine song to knockout the warm-up portion of my walk. The beat and the lyrics (which I probably don’t understand) all make me want to move. And I’m moving along.

My pace is about 15:00 minutes per mile. My spirit is lifting and I’m gradually easing into what’s ahead.

My back hurts.


I’m a sixty-year-old man trying to get back into some level of shape. I still feel impaired, traumatized, and changed by covid-19.

I talk about that too much.

I should GOOGLE something cool about The Who before I transcribe my scribbled outline into an SoC (stream of consciousness) story.


One doesn’t use GOOGLE in SoC. That would be cheating.

Is that true? I don’t know. Maybe?

I decide I like it, stream of consciousness. Welcome to the madness of my mind as I attempt to run 25 minutes nonstop.

Did I mention my back is hurting? Probably. It generally always hurt.

Let’s not drink anything today.

I’ve been limiting myself to beer and wine when I really want rum or vodka. The pandemic has helped me realize my genetic potential of being an alcoholic. Sigh.


“People forget.”

Eminence Front, The Who


People forget what? These lyrics are inscrutable.

I don’t care. This is a “fun” song. I’m not dead yet.


“People forget, forget their hiding…”

Eminence Front, The Who


Or is it “they’re hiding?”

Ooh. I like that double meaning. Why does everything have to be so damn definitive?

At Lexington before Alma, I pause the warm-up phase so that I won’t have to start running until I’ve crossed Alma.

The music plays.

I don’t know what these lyrics mean. Nor do I care. I’m moving. Another day I got up and won the fight over my primary instinct to lay in bed. When I was sick, I did that for three weeks. I was close to giving up. Hell, maybe I did give up; so many of my short stories are about forgetful ghosts who have forgotten they are dead. Maybe I’m dead. Maybe I never left Osage. I remember leaving. Stealing away like a thief while the rest of the staff sat the afternoon meditation. Maybe I did the unthinkable there?

I cross Alma and head south towards Chisholm trail.

I hit resume and run down the last few seconds of warm-up. I force long slow inhalations in through my nose. I breathe too shallowly for the most part, and I need to change that!

Ha. Good luck! Who changes habits? At SIXTY?

2. In a Big Country, Big Country (4 minutes 43 seconds)

I’m running now, sort of.



In a Big Country, Big Country


When I run these days, it’s with that old-man gait shuffle I used to judge so harshly when I saw others do it. Ahh, the foolishness of the young. Still trapped in the belief they are immortal, that they can always recapture what once was.

I catch myself telling (okay preaching) my younger coworkers to take better care of their health, to exercise, drink less, etc. Why do I do that? People did that to me when I was younger. I didn’t listen to them; they aren’t listening to me. They don’t understand. Yet. They will, but I will be dead by then, most likely. (They are YOUNG.)

I sink into the rhythm of the song, surrender to the beat, set my pace, and resolve to not overdo it.

Twenty-five minutes is the goal today, without stopping.

We’ll see.


In a big country, dreams stay with you

Like a lover’s voice fires the mountainside

Stay alive, here we go.”

In a Big Country, Big Country


Progress is so slow. But I must be getting stronger, more endurance! Something, surely.

I am better at modulating my speed. This program is a marathon, not a sprint and while there are runners that could sprint a 5k, I am not one of them. I always feel winded.

Still, I’m proud that I’m not giving up. I’m fighting. Literally, it feels that way. Fighting for my life. Fighting to get back some level of conditioning that allowed me to run 10:00 minute miles.

Hard limits, man. You can’t argue with math.

220 minus your age is a hard limit. And I’m supposed to go less than 80% of that. I have gotten better at ignoring the heart rate as reported by my Garmin. (I don’t need a calculator to see that yeah, 156 is probably more than 80% of 160.)

Breathe deeply.




“I never took the smile away from anybody’s face…”

In a Big Country, Big Country


If only that were true.

Check my Garmin. 11:05 minutes per mile.


This is a good pace. Sustainable. Not too fast, not too slow.

Not the ten-minute mile pace I bragged I would soon recapture when I began this eight-week program thirteen weeks ago.

God, all this music makes me so emotional.

Almost dying makes me emotional.

Living through history over and over again has left me emotional and frightened.

I’m always worried about tripping, so I run with my head down. Too much.

A plastic lid with a straw through its center floats under my feet.

Hold your head up!

She’s gone now.


I thought that pain and truth were things that really mattered

But you can’t stay here with every single hope you had shattered.”

In a Big Country, Big Country


A twisted knot of wood is a tarantula under my feet.

Hold your head up


“So, take that look out of here, it doesn’t fit you,

Because it’s happened doesn’t mean you’ve been discarded

In a Big Country, Big Country


Check your pace.

Still floating around 11:00 minutes per mile.


3. Hungry Like the Wolf, Duran Duran (3 minutes, 40 seconds)

I slide right and approach Chisholm trail at a gentle angle. I’m not in a hurry to get to the sidewalk. This long green belt that divides the trail from the adjacent neighborhood is a wonderful place to run on the grass.

This is better for small muscle development and activation.


In touch with the ground,

I’m on the hunt I’m after you,

Smell like I sound, I’m lost in a crowd,

And I’m hungry like the wolf,”

Hungry Like the Wolf, Duran Duran


Slow down, you’re running too fast.

Damn you, covid.

Check your pace.

My Garmin says 12:30 minutes per mile.


It is what it is.

These aren’t my legs. They can’t be. These are heavy, traitorous foreign things. These things are filled with concrete and glass.



In touch with the ground

I’m on the hunt I’m after you

A scent and a sound, I’m lost and I’m found

And I’m hungry like the wolf”

Hungry Like the Wolf, Duran Duran


Careful here. There are uneven spots here, remember?


Straddle the line in discord and rhyme

I’m on the hunt I’m after you

Hungry Like the Wolf, Duran Duran


The word “line” sounds like “lime” and I’m thinking about rum again. Being an addict is the worst.

Put the phone in my pocket.

The pocket of my running shorts swings wildly about with the weight of it.

Take the phone out.

Try carrying it in my left hand.

Then put it back in the right.

I glide back onto the grass to pass three Asian people.

My Garmin says my pace is 13:08 minutes per mile. Might as well be walking.

No. I must find the joy again.

My legs feel positively massive.

4. Mirror in the Bathroom, English Beat (3 minutes, 10 seconds)

I remember this song from “Gross Pointe Blank.”


Can I take you to a restaurant

That’s got glass tables?

You can watch yourself

While you are eating.”

Mirror in the Bathroom, English Beat


“You can watch yourself while you are eating?” Are you kidding me? Didn’t this come out in the eighties? These lyrics positively foreshadowed the social media tendency toward narcissism.

This beat helps me quicken my pace.

Oops, that’s too much. Slow down a bit. You’re sixty, not sixteen.

Lean into this hill.

Shorten your stride, don’t slow your pace. In through the nose, out through the mouth. Don’t gasp.

Let the abdomen swell full of air.

I am always breathing too shallowly. Shrinking away from everything.

I settle into the run and go through what I will do towards getting my last two of five books published soon.


Mirror in the bathroom


For all my crimes

Of self-defense.”

Mirror in the Bathroom, English Beat


I think I can do this thing.

5. Edge of Seventeen, Stevie Nicks (5 minutes, 28 seconds)

I really like this song. It has a lively, not too lively beat. I can settle into the rhythm of this without worrying about running too fast. This song appears on several other playlists of mine.


And the days go by, like a strand in the wind

In the web that is my own, I begin again

Said to my friend, baby (everything stopped)

Nothing else mattered.”

Edge of Seventeen, Stevie Nicks


Breathe deeper.

Find a sustainable pace. You don’t have to match the beat with your steps, but some harmonic of that is fine.

There’s the school.

Did I miss my turn?

No, there it is ahead.

I turn right.

Stevie’s words grow laughably incomprehensible. Maybe I will Google this lyric later.

Looking down again lest I trip.

Whoa! The road ends at a T. This isn’t right. This road is supposed to take me back to Alma.

Guess I’m going left on Yosemite. But that doesn’t seem like my normal route either.

But the sun is in front of me, east of me, this will work.

Another fine senior moment, that wrong turn.

You’re running, for God’s sakes.

6. Under the Milky Way, The Church

I should be getting near the end.

Screw this.

I stop and walk.

For a minute.

Instead of the 25 minutes of nonstop running, I manage only 22.

Still, that’s not terrible.


“Sometimes, when this place gets kind of empty

Sound of their breath fades with the light

I think about the loveless fascination

Under the Milky Way tonight”

Under the Milky Way, The Church


I should’ve finished this eight-week program weeks ago, but I keep repeating weeks 5 and 6. I guess after today, I can add 7 to my loop.

It is a fight, but one I’m committed to now.

7. Modern Love, David Bowie

Damn, I love Bowie. So sorry I never got a chance to see him live.


“I know when to go out

Know when to stay in

Get things done.”

Modern Love, David Bowie


My helpful running program informs me I have one minute remaining. I wish I could run this last sixty seconds, but I have no energy left. Probably foolish to let my heart rate hover so close to my maximum recommended value.

Yeah, the CTA scan seemed clear.

But… you never know, right?


It’s not really work

It’s just the power to charm

I’m still standing in the wind

But I never wave bye bye

But I try, I try

Modern Love, David Bowie


Damn it. I never saw Cohen either.

I wish my favorite people would stop dying.

The cheery app voice tells me to begin my cool-down period.

I walk. Slowly. I think my pace is just a teensy bit north of 3 mph, maybe. I don’t look at the Garmin anymore. That’s enough.

That’s enough for today.

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