The Run

Chris Reads
5 min readMay 17, 2024

--

“Coming!”

Greg picked up a fresh pair of socks from a drawer and his runners from the shoe rack, only to have to go back to his desk for his keys. He stepped out into the hall, locked the door, and met Lauren at the elevators still barefoot. As they waited for the elevator, Greg put on the tiny running socks, then worked his socked feet into his orange shoes.

It had been a long day of work at the home office. It was only a quarter past six, but the day had felt long. Meeting after meeting punctuated by emails of all types: angry, uninterested, and friendly. The company was going public soon, and there was a lot of extra work to be done. He had promised Lauren that they would go for a run at six, and she was predictably irritated about it. She understood that it was somewhat unreasonable for her to be upset when Greg was sent a last-minute deliverable by his director, but still upset, so she did her best to hide it. Of course, Greg could also tell when Lauren was on her best behaviour and trying not to appear upset. They rode down to the ground floor in silence.

The best part of their building was that it was next to the water. The view of the lake was partially obscured by a series of tall trees, but all variety of walks at all times of year were nicer than they had any right to be. Greg enjoyed the warm spring breeze, the smell of mulch and rain starting to fill the air. Then then started to run. Lauren was running a half marathon this year, and dragged him along whenever she could. She had read somewhere that running groups were a good way to stay motivated. Greg didn’t hate running, but definitely didn’t like it.

Five minutes later, Greg realized that he hated running. His legs felt like lead, his mouth tasted of iron, and his face was silver with sweat. And it dawned on him that he forgot his AirPods, while Lauren had hers. Why would anyone run to stay fit when sports exist? There are so many things that he could do for his health which would be good for him: he could play basketball, he could bike, or he could join a group fitness class. He also didn’t know enough people to start a basketball game, didn’t have a bike, and certainly wouldn’t be caught dead in Sweat and Tonic. So, he tolerated it the best he could. A little weight loss wouldn’t be bad for him either.

They ran along Lake Ontario, on a twenty kilometer shared-use path good for walking, biking, running, and all newfangled modes of light motorized transportation. Of course, runners thought that walkers should stay off the path, bikers thought that runners should stay off the path, and everyone thought that scooters should be banned from the path. The path was the best place to enjoy the spring weather, which meant that it was filled both with people getting off work and exercising. Serious-faced professional services workers, forced back to the office. Red-faced runners, huffing and puffing along the path. Smug faced bikers, whizzing by everyone and incessantly ringing their bells.

As they made their way further west and away from the residential areas, the number of people thinned out. But it was more uncomfortable if anything: with all the walkers and joggers gone, it was only bikers and fast runners zipping by. The mental fatigue had started to set in for Greg. He could feel himself losing willpower. He wanted to ask Lauren how much longer they had, but she had her AirPods in, and she would be further irritated if he were to make her take them out to ask. It was a bit emasculating how much better Lauren was at running than he was. This was the only thought that kept him coming on runs with Lauren. So, he plodded forwards, trying stay on Lauren’s right, and not fall behind.

Another bicycle zipped by, too close to him for comfort. What if that happened to Lauren? What if a bicycle knocked her over? Greg began to imagine an altercation with a biker. How would that go?

“Out of the way, you slow bitch!”

Greg turned around and saw a man in spandex biker shorts and an expensive looking bike trying to pass them.

“What did you call her?” retorted Greg.

He could feel his face growing even hotter.

“You heard me,” said the man as the lane of incoming bikers cleared out and he moved to the left.

With speed and energy he didn’t know he had, he leapt forward with a guttural scream and pushed the man on the bike, who yelled in return. Off-balance, he tipped over onto the asphalt. He then walked over and continued to yell at the man who was previously on the bike, but now on the ground.

“What did you say??”

“What the fuck is wrong with you?” said the man on the ground.

“Do you kiss your mother with that mouth, you chimp?”

“Fuck you,” screamed the man on the ground, who was now getting back up.

“Apologize to Lauren.”

The man who had gotten back up was now examining the bike, looking for anything broken.

“Hey, look at me while I’m talking to you,” yelled Greg.

Getting no reaction, he stomped as hard as he could on the wheel of the bike, which made a satisfying cracking sound.

“You fucker! This bike is worth more than you!”

“Are you going to apologize?”

“No, what the fuck?”

Greg raised his foot and stomped on the wheel again, which he noticed was completely broken now.

“Fuck you! I have this on video you fucking idiot! I’m going to sue your fucking ass!”

Greg noticed that the man was pointing to a GoPro strapped to his helmet and panicked. He reached over and tried to tear it off, only making the man fall again in the process. The man who was on the ground again clutched his elbow in pain. Greg’s red-hot wave of rage had passed, replaced by regret and fear.

“Oh no no no…” he said.

“Greg?” said Lauren, grabbing onto his arm.

And suddenly Greg snapped back to reality. It was just him and Lauren slowly running in Coronation Park, not a biker anywhere near them. He looked around.

“Were you talking to me? It looked like your lips were moving and you were mad about something, but I couldn’t hear anything with the music,” said Lauren.

Greg shook his head no and it cleared the remaining vestiges of his reverie from his mind.

“Just a bit of a daydream, that’s all.”

“Alright, then back to running, champ.”

Lauren turned and continued running forward. What had Greg been thinking about? He couldn’t even remember properly anymore. He knew he had imagined a confrontation with an aggressive biker. It felt so real. But no time to dwell with Lauren getting further away. So he ran on, a runner against his will, legs complaining ceaselessly to go back.

--

--