My friend George visited me in my dreams last night. George was this grand guy, a friend and colleague of my husband’s who died way too early. In life he had a way of rounding a corner just when you needed him to and offering some very sage and startling advice. A very nice man.
In my dream, George gave me a waffle iron. An old one, very old. Never been used, still in the box.
I know what unusually formed babies, large bodies of water, and finding yourself inappropriately naked all mean in my dreams. But I don’t know what a waffle iron means.
The waffle iron may be a red herring. The real gift was George’s calming presence. It’s okay, he seemed to say. It’s really okay.
I went to bed upset, in Toronto, the night before my run. When picking up my race packet, I asked the race organizers about starting early to walk the half marathon course, so I could run the last few miles in with my buddies.
(If you haven’t been following: I trained for the half marathon over the past many weeks, and within days of the race got word from my doctor that I had to stop running long distances. Running the race would risk further serious and not easily reparable damage to some unpopular but nevertheless necessary organs.)
The organizers nodded quickly, said no, the courses were too different, we wouldn’t meet up. My best bet was to run the 5K and stop with just 1K to go meet them and finish together.
My heart sank. Like a rock. To my toes. It felt like one more knock I didn’t need. I wanted to at least walk the half marathon. I trained hard. Somehow doing the 5K felt like not even showing up. It felt like nothing. Before I knew it, the too-efficient organizers had switched my number and my chip, and I was a 5K girl. It took a lot of swallowing back to keep from crying in the aisles.
So the rest of yesterday, my head just buzzed, and I felt all freaky. Finally I made up my mind that my mother had called the organizers and arranged the whole thing. It was either my mom or my guardian angles, but I wasn’t supposed to run this thing, or this wouldn’t have happened. I tried to relax.
And then George showed up in my dreams with his waffle iron, and I felt better.
I woke up this morning and pinned on my number, headed out the door with my girlfriends, and saw them off on their start. I started with the 5K folks.
And you know? It was alright. It was okay. I ran 4K with these folks, chatting it up. These are the runners-for-a-cause, the runners for kidney donors, runners for leukemia, and runners for breast cancer. There were many, many people in this event, and all in good humor, because this isn’t a stressful run in the least. So that was nice. I ran 4 of 5K, and stopped, turning to clap and shout support for the 5K people who ran, jogged, walked, and hobbled on in. JuJu the cheerleader.
My buddies arrived more than an hour later, considerably more tired and sweaty than I was. My friend Sharon, a long-time runner, basically sprayed me with sweat as she whipped by. My friend Michele, in her first distance race, came next, and we ran in together. We crossed the line together too. And that’s when it happened.
A kid, who didn’t note the difference in our numbers, handed me a medal.
I grabbed it.
I did. It wasn’t the right thing to do. It was bad. I toyed with returning it. But I only toyed with returning it. I have it right here next to me.
We could argue about whether I deserve that medal. I will honor all arguments pro and con. But in my heart, I believe I feel okay about keeping it. I trained hard. I trained hard on a broken body. And I now have to give up a sport I really like a lot. Toronto closes my flirt with distance running. I have a medal.
So. I am taking stock at this moment:
*Lots of you wonderful readers donated lots of dollars to support me and to help find a cure for Diabetes. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You warmed my heart, and your donations will do good.
*I waited an hour and a quarter for my buddies on that road, which may have given me this year’s record for the longest 5K. Hey, a record’s a record. (RATS! I just checked the stats, and some guy named Steve Dsa came in AFTER ME, by only a few minutes! Will the disappointments never end? What kind of cosmic joke is THIS?)
*Unless you’re an elite athlete, the training is a remarkable experience. You look back after many weeks and see that you can do things now you never thought yourself capable of then.
*Having a goal is good. Getting up and getting your workout in with a goal in mind and friends to hold you accountable? It’s an incredible motivator.
*Racing is a good reason to visit a beautiful new city. I am smitten with Toronto. Except the people here are nowhere near as obese as we are in the States. Don’t you hate that? These Canadians just think they’re so hot.
*A new pair of shoes and a stolen medal can clear even big throat lumps. Dinner at Southern Accent on Markham Street or 390 on Spadina up in Forest Hill will take care of any blueness you have left.
*Sometimes a waffle iron is just a waffle iron.
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