I have three vices: chocolate, chocolate and chocolate. So, when my niece, Terri Lynn suggests we sign up for the Port Dalhousie half marathon “Chocolate Race” last summer, I am in. My usual partner in crime, my neighbour Heather, doesn’t like running in the summer heat so I am on my own for this one.
But, no matter, chocolate is all the motivation I require. I dream about a car with Cadbury Fruit and Nut bars tied to the back, trailing behind in the wind, like a rabbit fur in the front of a dog race. I have three months to get up to par and I am prepared to do it, all in the name of the mighty coco bean.
I am half way through my training when I get the email from Terri Lynn, “I don’t know if I should run this race.”
I am stunned. What could possibly be more important than chocolate?
Apparently pregnancy is for some people.
Really? That’s more important than chocolate? Where are her priorities anyway? Chocolate…children…chocolate…children. At least I know where my loyalties lie.
I am not deterred, however, because I will be running for chocolate! My daughter, Charity and her 11 month old son accompany me to St. Catharines.
Half the fun of races is going and exploring places you might not normally. I have been to Niagara-on-the-Lake many times, but have never been to Port Dalhousie or ever ventured into St. Catharines, except for a highway break when travelling. Settling in to the hotel, we decide to go for dinner. We find a great little chain restaurant not far. I order something relatively healthy in hopes I’ll be okay for tomorrow’s race. I am worried because the farthest I’ve ever run is 15 km. Tomorrow I will run the greatest distance of my entire lifetime!
We leave the restaurant and I look for my car. I panic because I don’t see it. Then I calm down because I realize we came in my daughter’s car. Phew. So, I look for it, and can’t see it anywhere either. I start to walk up and down the aisles, anxiety rising in my throat.
Charity stands calmly just outside the restaurant door and picks up Logan. She is staring at me. Why is she so calm? Why isn’t she looking for the car? How will I get to the race tomorrow if we’ve misplaced our transportation?
“What are you doing?” she says.
Duh. The young can be so stupid, some times. “I’m looking for the car. Where’s your car?”
Charity blinds and starts walking away from me.
“What’s wrong with you? The car isn’t here. It’s gone. Where are you going?”
She rolls her eyes.
“We walked here, Mom. Our hotel is right there.” She laughs pointing.
“Oh, that’s right.” I think I need some pre-race chocolate to calm my nerves.
The next morning I feel slightly nauseous at the start line. What was I thinking? But Charity and little Logan are there to support me and I feel the love. I’m running for chocolate. What could be better?
I have made a pre-determined contract with myself that I will walk through all the water stations to give my calves a break. Other than that, I want to run the entire distance.
It is going well. But, it is hot, really hot. We wander through streets and trails, then into a residential area. The heat is horrible but I trundle forward. Then I spot him. An elderly, somewhat less-than-attractive man in his 70s standing in his driveway spraying runners with a garden hose. I am in love.
I can’t help myself. The words just come out before I have a chance to stop them. “Will you marry me?” I don’t even care that my ipod is getting wet.
“That’s okay, Lovey,” he says in a posh British accent.
All goes to plan until about kilometre 19. I’m tired and really don’t feel like continuing. I can’t be doing too badly though as I’m able to pass a perky young blond girl in a pony tail and orange sports top. But, then I see her in front of me. How can this be? I just passed her. I didn’t see her pass me. Just as I’m thinking I must have missed it, she passes me again. No, this isn’t good. I’m seeing double. Now there are two perky young blond girls with orange sports tops in front of me. I slow up and start to walk. This is really, really bad. I’m hallucinating. I’m just about to seek medical attention when I notice the shoes. They each have on a different brand of running shoes and they are now talking to each other. I take a good look at their faces; probably identical twins. There should be rules about things like this.
I’m walking now and would probably continue to walk all the way to the finish line if it isn’t for the severe stomach cramp that suddenly hits me. Now, they say that running can stimulate your digestive system. I’m here to say they are not wrong. I start running to avoid what has the potential to the most embarrassing moment of my adult life. I am no longer running for chocolate. I am running for the bathroom.
I pass the twins and sprint straight for the finish. I see Charity and Logan in the sidelines but I keep going. Right past Charity, right past the finish line, right past the bagels, right past the chocolate, right into the line-up inside the bathroom.
Line-up! This is one curve ball I wasn’t expecting to catch. I bend over, clutching my stomach. “Are you alright?” someone asks. I try to shake my head yes. I don’t want to talk. All I can think is hurry, hurry, hurry!
Now some people say my half marathon victory came when my foot stepped over the finish line. But, I’m here to tell you, the real victory came when I successfully stepped into the next free stall in the bathroom.