BMO Vancouver Marathon / RUNVANĀ®

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SUNDAY, May 5, 2019.

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BANG!

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YAHOO!!

17,000+ of us fresh-faced/fresh-bodied fools smile and joke as we break into a slow jog down the long tree-lined tube … the chute leads us out of bucolic Queen Elizabeth Park… first into a gentle uphill climb… then turning hard right onto Vancouver’s Cambie Street and immediately into a 2 km.-long downhill slope leading onto the Cambie Bridge… overlooking some of this world’s finest ocean-mountain scenery on an early Sunday spring morning.

The beginning of any large race like this – the Vancouver Marathon/Half Marathon – is the danger zone.

All of us runners are looking down and sideways, gingerly avoiding bumps and crashes and possible trips over others’ feet that send us ass over teakettle.

The newly-risen sun is brilliant but the air is cool and delicious, filled with scents of fresh-brewed coffee and mentholated body rubs.

Families and friends already line the long asphalt route with funny signs and cantankerous noisemakers to stimulate and energize the jogging throngs.

Simultaneously run-breathing and laughing can be complicated sometimes.

OMG it’s breathtaking and inspiring and likely as close to endorphin spiritual nirvana as I can come. I’ve done this particular race for maybe 10 years now and I get monster goosebumps every time.

Yes – right as I publish this week’s post – this Sunday is the annual Vancouver Marathon/Half Marathon race.

EXCEPT. NOT. THIS. YEAR.

Cambie bridge running

No boisterous crowds, no joyful noise, no communal sweat.

*sigh*

The first Sunday of May is a perennial event day like a hundred… a thousand… a million other world-wide events that won’t achieve their “annual” billing this time around the sun.

The year the earth stood still. The clocks stopped and went silent.

You and I can count on our fingers and toes all of the things we might normally do over the coming weeks and months… but not this year.

We take it all for granted because our lives have always been this way. (This is a needed reminder to us to avoid using the words ALWAYS and NEVER)

Remember Y2K?

We chewed our fingernails, anticipating and worrying for a couple of years leading up to the stroke of midnight.

It was going to be an end-of-the-world happening.

Respirators and electricity and computers would seize up and go to sleep. People would perish and insurrection would flame like Dante’s Inferno around the globe.

Nothing would be the same afterwards… except… everything was the same afterwards. We worried and anticipated needlessly.

But how many of us woke up on New Year’s Day of 2020, rubbed our eyes, and thought to ourselves… I wonder what strange and possibly horrific event will take place this year where my life will be turned upside down in ways I can’t imagine?

Now, 1/5th of the way into this new century, we’re barely a third of the year in and EVERYTHING looks different and none of us had the slightest clue of it all.

The Black Swan caught us in her trap.

black swan

So, this Sunday morning I’ll wake up early and slip into my running tights and shoes and head out into the early morning air.

Quiet. Still. No 17,000 runners. No noisemakers. No crazy signs.

I’ll absorb the (hopefully) gentle warmth of the sunshine on my face. I’ll smell the heady scent of spring apple blossoms and lilac.

It will seem just like a thousand other beautiful mornings throughout my life…

… everything will look and smell the same, but inside… in my inner core…

… I’ll feel a slight difference, a little like you feel shortly after a loved one has died and you know that your world will never be quite the same again.

On the surface, nothing has altered… the sun rises and sets, the moon continues to wax and wane… but beneath the still surface waters… the undercurrents have turned decidedly chillier … for a while at least.

And as I run along solo, I’ll miss the comradeship of those 17,000 people.

People of all colours and ages and genders and body types that shared with me a couple hours of intense sweaty physicality… a physicality we can only experience alone … for now…

And… ultimately friends… this is all small potatoes in the larger picture where many many people are coughing and feverish… people gasp a final breath in wards surrounded by gowned and masked angels… people are separated from family and adequate housing and food.

It’s all a stark reminder to me of how friggin’ fortunate I am to exist in a bubble of health and goodness…

I can wait for the clocks to start ticking again one day.

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