Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Race

They say each race starts with a single step, but not really. It starts with an internet connection, a nutter and a credit card.
I did it. I am committed. Or committable? Today is the day I signed up for the Ottawa Marathon. Although my family considers me mildly delusional, I am not so out of touch that I consider myself psychotic. It’s 18 weeks away and unlike that very lucky comedian, What’s Her Face, who made her largely popular writing smash hit Couch Potato to Ethiopian in 18 Weeks, I have more realistic goals. I simply want to finish.
Standing up.
Preferably breathing.
Goal time: to finish before they reopen the roads and I’m mowed over by a crazy diplomat from Kazakhstan with red licence plates.
Surely that’s not too much to ask?
Why? Why on earth would someone want to run 42 km?
This question just begs for a reasonable answer. Unfortunately, there isn’t one. There is no sane reason on heaven or earth to do this.
Some say it is the setting of goals and achievement while others claim it is to improve fitness. Get real.  We all know those people are liars. I mean really, come on, there is nothing in the arena of ‘fitness’ that includes pounding your poor body on pavement as fast as you can for 42 km. It’s all poppycock.
So I am going to be honest and reveal a deep, dark secret to only my closest friends. I mean, isn’t that what blogging and social networking is for? For revealing stuff that you really shouldn’t tell another living soul and usually information that other living souls really aren’t interested in hearing? Things that you would be too embarrassed to yell out in a crowd of strangers, yet you are strangely courageous enough to reveal in a forum most of the world can access?
My reason is ecclesiastical in nature:
Now anyone reading this who has seen me in person is now very, very confused and possibly some of you are even laughing. Just one look at my face, you will know I am not vain in the traditional sense. In fact, for all those poor neighbours who have had the misfortune of seeing me at 4:00 pm  still in my baggy moose and bear print brown cotton pyjama pants and uncombed hair will attest that what’s on the outside of me often is not my focus in life. However, I will be happy to bore any unsuspecting human or beast who will listen about my cholesterol, LDL, HDL and vitamin B12 blood test results at the drop of a hat.  Did you know my resting heart rate was 48 BPM by the way? Just saying...
So why vanity, you may ask? Well, you probably won’t ask, but I’ll ask it for you.
I just want to say "I did it". Just once in my life.
Will it make me fitter? Will it make me a better person? Will it teach me something about goal setting? Will anyone else care whether I completed the course?  Will it improve my self-esteem? Make me better at finishing other tasks in life?
Emphatically, no, no, no!
But, I can say “I completed a marathon.”
It’s not as though I haven’t accomplished other things in my life. I have a hand full of achievements I am very proud of: I’ve raised good kids,  written books, climbed the stairs in the CN Tower, run with the Olympic Torch and passed my motorcycle license test without falling off the bike or killing the tester standing in the parking lot. If you've seen me drive any motorized vehicle, you may even think this more than just a mere accomplishment, more miraculous in nature.
I remember as a kid sitting in the basement watching the Boston Marathon on T.V. thinking ‘that’s so cool. I wonder if I could ever do it?’. --The answer is obviously 'no' because you would have to qualify but I didn’t know that then.-- Then I would run two circles around the backyard, come in and eat a popsicle.
I will probably never run Boston, but there is a good chance, with proper rest and training I can complete a marathon.
Even breathing maybe.
So, let the games begin. Please feel free to send me all the positive vibes you possibly can muster and follow my hopefully injury-free journey to the finish line. I am officially starting the quest today all in the name of vanity and pride!
They say pride goes before a fall. Let’s just hope the fall doesn’t come before the finish line!

Illustration created for The Moose Pyjama Chronicles by Jon Larter
copyright 2011 Heather Down


  1. Fabulous, Heather. You'll do it in fine form, I'm sure. You've always inspired me with your varied and interesting accomplishments. I'm proud that you are my sister-in-law!

  2. Heather,
    I think this is great and I totally get why you're doing it. I have no doubt that you'll do great!!! Good for you!

  3. Heather - A superbly crafted piece of writing! Please know that you have our total confidence in running the marathon.

  4. Hello~! Nice blog you have there.
    I have followed your blog.

    Could you follow mine too please at:
    SkyBlueTrading Blog