Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Manitoba Half Marathon 2012

The truth is when I was your age I was in no need of advice. 
I knew everything. My world was filled with certitudes. But 
when you get to be my age, you realize you know nothing. 
Doubts are the unhappy rule.
Mordecai Richler
addressing McGill University graduating class of 2000

The 34th Manitoba Marathon was a fine day for a run, truly wonderful actually. 13,667 runners, 762 fulls, 4228 halves, 1637 10 k's, 3345 super runners (2.6 miles), and 3965 relay runners.  Race Director Shirley Lumb hopes to top 20,000 runners in 2013. Is she dreaming!?  

Yes, of course she is but what a powerful dream.

Imagine 20,000 runners converging on the streets of Winnipeg... parents with strollers, families, grandparents with walkers,  school aged runners, runners with wheel chairs, runners with all sorts of abilities. People running with confidence and pride. All of us, running, smiling, talking to random strangers. A critical mass of unsurpassed positive energy... a community of health and good cheer. That's what I like about this race, it dreams big!  Shirley, you dream on, dream big, dream really big. We believe in you.  

Yes, the Manitoba Marathon is big and clumsy and it doesn't have enough porta-potties. Yes, the dry-clothing drop off is too far from the start line. Yes, the start line is confusing. Yes, it's traditionally a hot and humid run and the fan support is luke warm. Yes, that damn Bishop Grandin bridge is a killer and did I mention the luke warm fan support ?  With all its warts and bruises though, it's our race and we should be proud.

We should be proud because it attracts thousands of families and kids that would otherwise be sedentary. Proud because it builds community. Proud because by participating we demystify ugly stereotypes some hold of people with intellectual disabilities. Proud because it's ours. Yes friends, we should be proud of the Manitoba Marathon and we should be thankful for race director Shirley Lumb who isn't afraid to dream big. 

A friend shared a story about running the Manitoba full marathon in his father's shoes, one size too big. His father was once strong. He became old. He stumbled with increasing  frequency.  He used a walker for support but even that failed near the end. He was raised in a time of austerity, the Great, Depression, when pennies were the gold standard.  His shoes were three for $50... Walmart specials with made-in-China knock off Adidas stripes. My friend took his father to a his favorite athletic store to purchase a "real fine pair of runners" for his dad.  Like Cinderella, the shoes fit heavenly and my friend's dad wore them with pride and showed them off ... look at the shoes my son bought for me... He managed a few miles in them before he passed.  

Weeks later my friend wore those shoes, one size too big, on Father's Day to run a marathon. A metaphor for life, to walk a mile in his shoes. He wore the shoes to honour his father. To remember him and to give thanks. My friend crossed the line with silent tears flooding, in his father's shoes, one size too big. Several years later, recounting the story to me his eyes still well with tears. The power of memory is staggering.

The highlight of the Manitoba Marathon was running into my old high school friend Phil at the start corral. We were good friends back in grade 9. We share memories of grade 9 angst, girls, stolen beers from our father's refrigerators, camp outs on the river. He has a full head of hair.  Mine thins. He is heavy. I am light. He admired my frame. I replied this scrawny old bod. seriously?  you gotta be kidding... we laughed and joked as the seconds ticked down to gun time.  We ran together for a mile and then he slipped from my sight like a fading memory. At mile 5 he reappeared suddenly and said he was settling into his customary  stride. As I passed slowly he mouthed I'll see you at the finish line. I replied with a backwards handshake you can bet on that, Phil.  That was the last I saw of Phil, never did see him at the finish line, although I did wait.  (Hmm, I hope he didn't mean the other finish line; you know, the finish line of life!)

What did I eat for supper the night before running the Manitoba half marathon? Jennifer barbecued an amazing pizza on Saturday, pre-Marathon.  Thought you might be interested in the process.  

home made sour dough on pizza stone (but you can use any old dough including store bought), 
it's ready to flip when bubbles appear ... cook fast and hot.... our bbq tops out at about 550 degrees
working fast, spread San Marzano tomatoes (drained in a sieve and hand squished to remove liquid... we save the liquid for "post-pizza pasta"), caramelized onions spiced with Sambalolek red chilli paste, mozzarella ball (not too much)... note burnt top right corner... it got caught on warming rack when flipped....
note to self, remove warming rack next time.  
cooking very hot, watch very closely... lid open... say a prayer or have a few sips of beer (depending upon where your convictions lay)... timing is critical.... about 2 minutes per side depending on how hot you can get your bbq
remove using tongs and cookie sheet.... while cooling add mozzarella di bufala and hand torn fresh basil...  cool.... 

It's a good day to be alive.  I think of you all.  I am proud to have you in my life.