My steps were smooth, quick, and simple. My breath kept even. My heartbeat was a slow 140 beats per minute, according to my heart rate monitor. The grass below my feet was wet from last night’s harsh rainstorm. I was running in Big Shunga Park, where I typically do my morning runs. The trails are vast and all over. I have calculated a forty minute route of which I run five days a week. However, the park is a flood zone, and after last night’s rain, I am unable to run some parts of my route, so I diverge onto another route of which I have mapped out in cases like this. It is strange, however, as the trail I am on develops a queer white line of which is not seen in nature. I pass a man, sitting on a lawn chair, as if he is waiting for something to happen where he is at.

It’s funny. When I ran cross country meets in high school, we had to follow white lines similar to the one I am following. I pass by two boys in running jerseys. “Oh, crap,” I think to myself. “I’m in a high school boys cross country race!” My adrenaline kicks in with the excitement of being in a race and my heart rate jumps to 160 beats per minute. The boys are short and unimpressive, as I was also when I was their age. My slim, short body, of which I possessed in my youth, has developed well, as I am now a slightly more muscular and a whole inch taller twenty-two year-old man. “I would totally place.” I begin to think. “I should keep going. No. That wouldn’t be right. Okay, I’ll get off of the trail up here. I would totally medal though. Not the point. Getting off.”

I continued my run. I quickened my pace, subsequently quickening my heart rate. 167 beats per minute. Up ahead, I see a squirrel. It sees me. It goes to the left. No, right. No, left. I’m getting close to it! Right. Left. On my leg! I jump around, freaking out. It jumps off of me. I turn to look at it. It sits there, dazed. Nothing else that happens today will be as scary as what just happened now. I throw my hands in the air. “I’m running here, bro!” I yell at the dumbfounded rodent as if it can understand me. I hear the crowd of people at the cross country meet not too far off. I realize that if anyone saw me yelling at a squirrel and calling it “bro,” they’d probably think I’m crazy. I’ll just keep running.

My run is nice. Easy. For a little while longer, at least. I start coming up on a hole I’ve always had a curiosity for ever since I mapped out my route. I’ve had questions about it like, “What is it for?” “Does an animal live there?” “If so, what?”

I’m not even five feet from the hole now. For the first time in my life, I see a badger, up close and personal. I remember always being told how vicious these creatures are. They’ll eat your face and tear your arm off! It runs across the trail and scurries down into the hole. More scared of me than I of it, I imagine.

I’m nearly finished with my run. Thank goodness. Too much has happened in one day already. I end it where I normally do. I’m four minutes faster than usual. Next time, I should have a pack of wild dogs chasing after me. Maybe then I’ll finish five minutes faster.