ottawa race weekend, in which i ran 5K out of spite
[the drawing above is entitled daddy’s heart attack]
Overcast and holding Saturday morning, out to do the groceries. People in the supermarket wander around, a kind of wide-eyed look, staring up in a crooked way, trying to think of everything all at once. Etiquette to cart traffic — make a little back-and-forth motion to indicate you need to go by, do not say vroom vroom. People always claim not to see you. I don’t know why they play Pat Benatar to a crowd of over-40 white people at 8:30ish in the morning, but I’m sure they have their studies.
Leave for Ottawa late morning. Yawning, could go to sleep on the 401. Bad idea. Oona denies wanting or needing a nap but is snoring by Brockville. Go for lunch once we reach the capital city, one of those peameal bacon places where the waiter writes his name in crayon on the brown paper tablecloth and they play the kind of music that you’ve heard on the radio a thousand times but cannot place a name to. Sammy Hagar’s B-list. Also, my cola arrives in a mason jar.
While C is excited at the prospect of the upcoming race, brother-in-law Nicky is dreading it, even though he’s the only one who’s really trained for it. I have trained least of all. In fact, my ‘running’ has amounted to little more than practicing what running feels like. It feels bad. In fact, I am only running out of spite — because Nicky had already broken several promises to run with C (5K’s, 10K’s — even a half-marathon) and he was going to get out of it again until we goaded him and he said he would do it only if I did it, and I said fine. And while time has borne down on me, and conspired against me, to bring me to this day, I still believe in spite. Spite, bellicosity in general can be a great motivator if you really get into it. Understand that this is different from blind rage — fury being about blindness and destruction, while spite, at least to me, has always been more about a stubborn, perverse, wholly unreasonable willingness to die on the ramparts.
Catherine is also supposed to run, but she bows out with a bum knee, so by way of punishment we make her babysit Oona.
The race itself is a mob in positive-thinking and spandex. Because no one wants to look bad, we all run too fast in the beginning. C and Nicky long gone. Fine. As soon as I see enough people start to walk, I take my own walking breaks. Not like my running is any faster. After that it’s not so bad — run a little, walk a little, run a little bit more. In the end, I probably run about three-quarters of it. More importantly, I do not die. My time is 42 something. Like I care. I pour a few cups of water over my head and remark to C that it’s the farthest I’ve ever run in my life. Everyone gets a medal anyway, although I’m disappointed not to hear Europe’s The Final Countdown in the finisher’s area.