full mind, full tank

I run with memories in mind. Like today for instance. After sending an e-mail or two at Kinko's (remember my internet is still down) I went east to 24th, north to Thurman, then west to the top of Thurman to an old logging road now closed to cars and used by runners, walkers and dogs. This road has become my training grounds for a race I'll probably never run.

I begin today like I have two other days this week with Heidi off the leash, which I've thrown over my left shoulder and buckled around my torso to my right hip. Fuck, I think, I've got my keys still but no pocket to put them in. I should have left them in my car like I have done with my wallet and phone. But I brought them even though my car is unlocked. After Heidi shits and I bag it, I spot at a rock, and, with a quick look, lift it up and put my only set of keys underneath. I look up and there's a runner behind. Has he seen? Does he care? I start running ahead of him.

I have a goal today which is unlike me. I want to run to the three mile mark without stopping. Yesterday, I made it there but walked a bit. I also made the mistake of stopping to catch my breath when I got to "3". It's so much harder to start running again after you've stopped for a while -- this day and in general. You get going alright once you do but you have to get started again. Yesterday, it took me a mile and a half to get going again. I started jogging again even though I was sore because it was faster to run and I was bored with walking. Today, I'm running and feel good. Heidi's with me and is one engine. Her leash, chain links bumping my chest, is mt second. I run and tell myself I can't stop. I run a mile in no time and tell myself I'm a third of the way. My mind moves to New Mexico and I think of a trip to Las Cruces. If I was driving, and was a third of the way from Albuquerque, I'd be in Socorro.

Before I moved to Portland I turned down a job at a newspaper in Socorro. El Defensor Chieftian is a small paper. I would have been a cub. But fucking Socorro was a shithole of a town and my clutch went out there.

I down shift. I'm going uphill on this one-time logging road. I just passed mile-mark "11/4". I jog on breathing the clean air of Forest Park. Keys-under-rock guy is behind me and I feel the need to make us both work. I feel him then a burn as i turn it up a notch. He comes up my left anyway, and I cruise. Heidi chases him for a second, then with a series of snaps returns close to me. The man, about my father's age of 58, runs on and I find it easier to look at him forward than feel him from behind. I follow and we get to "11/2". The road is now natural. Once paved it now narrows -- single lane and dirt and rock. The man ahead stays on the side and I learn why. It's softer there with moldy leaves and moist, rockless soil. I try it, and I find it comforting to my shins. Two women near mile two are sitting on the side. Heidi approaches as I knew she would and is greeted kindly by her new friends. They say she's cute and with two snaps she catches up to me, now approaching "2", or on my route to Cruces, Truth or Consequences.

Just north of T or C is San Antonio. I, along with four friends, were once told never to return there. I have since, and have gone unrecognized by the man at the gas station we tried to run from after filling up in high school. "2". I'm feeling good. Haven't stopped. Past the point where I stopped yesterday. I'm not done. I run to "21/4".

South of T or C is Las Palomas, Heidi's birth place. Where I found her. She doesn't catch on to this as we pass the marker. She does, however, drink out of the mud puddle until I snap my finger and tell her to "get out of there." We run on. As we get near "21/2" I feel my lungs, inside my ribcage, curl. I picture them. There's black mud underneath my feel. I don' stop, but imagine myself doing so, grabing a handfull of black mud and caking it over my white lungs, blocking the breathing pores that make it all possible. I try to spit. It's loud and not very successful. It's sticky and doesn't all come out. I spit again , trying to detach ths mess. I finally grab it and toss it to my right, wiping residue on my shirt's sleeve. The white wooden post reads: "23/4". I'm almost there. We're almost there: Heidi, the man and me.

The engines work and I'm confident as I approach "3". I think a couple of things: I don't want to stop; must keep going; and, Las Cruces -- my one-time-home-away-from-home. I spin around at the post as the man goes on. 'I tried,' I think, 'but you've been running longer. It's been fun, thanks.' I let Heidi know we'll be making our descent. Snap, snap. "C'mon." It hurts but I keep moving. Must.

In a minute I see someone else to follow. A girl in red shorts. She's running at about the same pace, but must have turned around at "21/2". I'll trail her for a while until she pulls off to another, smaller path. I think she became annoyed by my noises. I was breathing audibly by this pont and spit too. Not to worry. Her out of the picture, I pick up the pace. I'm going to run six miles, today. Down to Las Cruces and back to Albuquerque, non-stop.

The two women are still on the side by "2". Heidi reminds them who she is and they enourage her, "keep it up, soldier," they say. I think about me looking like a soldier with the leash like a sash of bullets over my chest. I run, thinking many memories: I put half-and-half in my coffee this morning. New Mexico State Basketball Coach Lou Henson used to put hal-and-half in his cereal. He's ill. Hunter S. thompson, near Lou's age, just shot himself in his kitchen while his wife was at the gym. He's dead. I am well.

I'm alive and running, and really not in that much pain. The natural road will turn paved and I'll find the brown rock with chocolate swirls that is covering my keys. I'll run to the end and stop. I'll be surprised, sweating, and red in the face. I feel fine, though. My soul is inside hugging itself for finishing, for starting, for being here, for being alive. For having memories and remembering memories and for Heidi, my running partner, who finished the run like she could have done more.

I'm back in Albuquerque, where I once ran.

THE END

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