Hvězda Run

“I’m going for a run.”

Sometimes the moment words have left my mouth, I understand the magnitude of the mistake I have made. Before I could walk it back, Burke jumped in.

“Great idea! I have to make these recordings for class. And you could pick up your new phone on the way home.”


Burke had wanted me out of the house like a wolf spider since around noon, when I spontaneously began singing things. Not songs. Just things I saw and thought of. She complains, though my rendition of Leftover Pizza to the tune of Zeppelin’s Lemon Song was a leftover slice of genius. Nevertheless, the dog had been barking at me, Burke had moved rooms a number of times. Even the cat, dependent upon me for food and the hygiene of her poop box, was beginning to give me horrifying slit-eyed glares. They wanted me gone. Now I had given them not only the method – painful to me – but they had provided other logical reasoning which was hard to refute. Traitors.

I decided to go to Obora Hvězda – a nearby park that in the 1500s served as the walled game reserve for Ferdinand I. The walls are still there, but the zebras and ostriches are probably (mostly) gone. I had spent many mornings and days walking or jogging there. Sometimes I would go through with the dog and a beer. Recently though, because we have been so busy dealing with buying a flat, I have been neglecting our local park. And since we are moving out in a month or so, I thought I’d better visit it while I can.    

The day was gorgeous. Warm in the sun, cool in the shade. What a day to ruin with a run. I walked to the local park, holding my phone which Spotified a running playlist into my left ear (my only working earbud). I grew jealous of the people walking to the park with picnic baskets, bottles of wine tucked under their arms, or plastic cups of beer in their hands. Why couldn’t I be like them?

The problem is – I have been recently. A lot. A byproduct of the stress and extra hours tacked on to your life when buying a flat is a quick allocation of coping mechanisms. In my case this was beer, pizza, and pickled cheese. Coupled with the fact that the weather is beautiful, and it became all too easy to leave a 41 square meter flat in Palmovka and say “let’s get a beer, shall we? It’s too beautiful outside not to. And we deserve it!” Anyway, “all too easy” became “damned impossible not to” PDQ. And though I have not stopped working out, beer and cheese does to a 48 year old body what air does to a balloon. My pants have grown tighter and the topography of my lower shirts has become unpleasantly hilly. Working out for thirty minutes and running continuously for thirty minutes are two different forms of workout torture. I needed to see how I would do. So this run was to gauge the extent of the damage.

The damage was noted about 41 seconds into the run. I was putting through the shady woods and though my wind held up, there was a notable jiggling in my rear and front tanks that caused me great distress. A distress so great that even the soothing flugelhorn of Chuck Mangione couldn’t cure it. I whimpered and chugged on. Should you wish to understand what two months of pizza and beer do to you, go for a jog. Make sure no people are around to hear your epithets of rage, sadness, and frustration. By the second leg (out of 4) of my first of two loops through the park, I had decided on a full life overhaul. I would never have another donut again. Carbs would only play a role in my life when a student mispronounced the Czech Christmas fish. And I was going to have to say goodbye to beer in lieu of its unappealing sister – wine.

By the fourth leg, Odetta crooning off in my left ear, I realized that my tank – expanded though they are – were nearly empty. I was tipped off to this when I was outpaced by a toddler pushing his baby sister in a pram that he could have used as a summer house. I put my head down and sang ‘My name it means nothing…please Dog kill me…’

Being on a run you are going to have trouble finishing is sort of like being in the middle of a night of drinking when you realize you forgot to eat and also there are now double the amount of people at the table than there were 2 seconds before. Uh oh. Yes, there’s a simple way out. You can slur an apology, stagger to the bar, pay, and slump out into the night and chance your way home. Or you could power through, work your way step by step back into the land of the living.

I did the first thing. Well, not really. I do designate three spots where I will walk to regain my breath. As I approach the first such designated walk, I am barely moving. When I get to my walk spot, I am moving faster than I was when running. Approaching the end of the walk is as agonizing in its anticipation as approaching the end of the run was as elating.

People are everywhere. They sit on benches and they drink and eat no blankets in the square lawn. And though I wish I could judge them – I am running you are drinking – they all somehow seem to be skinny and better looking than me. And for this I hate them. All of them. I glimpse the castle’s café as I run by and two men coming through the gates with plastic cups of beer. I plan to quit and do the same, but I have one more leg left and also no money. The joke I made when leaving comes back to haunt me. Nah, I’m not bringing any money. I’m afraid I’ll spend it on beer. Hahaha.


By the time I am rounding into my last leg, I am almost in tears and while I’d love to report they were tears of joy, they just weren’t. I distract myself in those last few dozen meters by reciting the phone call I will make to Burke when I am done. I repeat it aloud to Eye of the Tiger and then again to I Want You Back. When I push through the threshold three pretty girls who before witnessed my self-immolation were now witness to my tears. They didn’t spend a lot of time concerning themselves with it. One of the girls wore a shirt that read: Girls just taste better. At this point, there’s no question.

I shut off my Bluetooth. I walk towards the gate. Just opposite the beautiful doors of our local pub. Within their leafy Edenistic confinesI hear the murmur of joy and drinking and did I mention joy? Burke picks up. I am making a rubber-legged B-line for the doors.

“Hey. It’s beautiful outside.” I waited.

The response came. “And, after all, we deserve it….”   

It was all worth it. My legs just got me there.

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