Once upon a time there was a runner.

She ran week after week.
Month after month.
Spring, summer, fall and winter.

The winter months were the hardest of all.
And darkness.

She went months without sunshine.
Without those warm rays.
Her skin became whiter.
More isolated each day.

But she ran and ran.
And counted down.
For the sun to return again.

March arrived and spring peeked around the bend.
A few days of sun.
Temperatures rising.
Exciting times for this runner!
A preview of what was soon to come.

A weekend away in Florida.

She flew to her family in West Palm Beach.
Arrived to a blanket of warmth.
She missed week after week.

Day one of the trip had her giddy to run.
Shorts, a tank top and a morning of sun!

The run was her fastest in weeks.
She was elated.
More joyful yet was the afternoon to come.

Off to a spring training game, her first.
Seats in the bleachers? The perfect spot for some.
Close to her team. Bathing in the rays.
Good thing she'd put on her sunblock.
To protect her delicate skin, from face to legs.

But a spot would be missed.
An important spot she'd learn.
A lesson she'd get from an unwanted burn.

One hour, two hour, three hour, four.
The time ticked by.
Sitting in the bleachers.
Wrapped in warmth.
Leaning back to face those rays.

Inning 9, a message would be received.
Her shoulder spoke.
And made its first plea.

"Eh hem," it said in it's shoulderly way.
"I'm over here and beginning to smolder."
"Do you not care about your delicate shoulder?"

Oh no.

The part soaking up the most sun.
Hours earlier winter white as a sheet.
Now red as a beet.
And the weekend was young.

Her ponytail loosened.
She attempted to cover.
The part her family would say looks asunder.

They noticed, oh yes, and cringed they did.
She brushed it off.
A simple oversight.
But regret it later she would.

Lotion with aloe!
At least that was at home.
When she returned she lathered.
Lathered again.
And hoped for the best.
Maybe it would tan?

The next morning arrived.
The burn gave no rest.

With a 17 mile run scheduled.
Only tank tops to wear.
She took her chances
Back out in the sun.
Shoulders totally bare.

But the problem would not be the sun this day.
The problem would be the shoulder straps she must wear.

Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.
Every swing of the arms.

But nothing could be done.

17 miles later.
The burn even rarer.
Lotion it up. Lotion it up.
Wait and hope.
How long will she pay for this error?

The next day arrives.
No relief in sight.

The redness now radiant.
The skin painful to touch.
Sleeves barely tolerable.
Jackets proved too much.

But at least it was raining.

She headed back to Boston, the land of less sun.
Another day or two.
And the burn would be gone.

But, oh, not the case.

The peeling began.
Layers of skin? See you later.
The red no fainter.
Still painful to touch.
Her shoulder still raw.
Unable to heal.
No thanks to the sports bra.

Skip a run? Impossible.
Just weeks till her marathon.

Delicate skin will be gone.
With every step taken.
But the healing must happen.
So it doesn't look like bacon!

Still she runs and runs and risks her poor shoulder.
Parts are redder than ever.
But at least some spots have healed over.

Tomorrow's a rest day.
A day to lotion up.
She hopes hope this burn eases.
So she doesn't have to be tough.

How this tale ends?
She must wait and see.
But a lesson exists here for you and for me.

Runners awaiting those delightfully warm rays.
Before you head out for your first spring weather days.
Remember to SPF from your head to your toes.
Or you'll feel the burn that only forgotten shoulders know.