Frustration and acceptance: a marathon dream

The following dream is responsible for my only having had six hours of sleep last night. It was worth it.

It’s marathon morning and we’re on the starting line. I wish Jonathan a good race and he heads up to the front while I hang back a few rows.

For some reason, we’re running the race in a third world country that I can’t identify. It’s vaguely Middle Eastern and the entire city seems to be under construction. There is scaffolding and concrete road dividers everywhere, and we can barely hear anything over the constant din of saws, nailguns and jackhammers.

The weather is most notable for its complete absence. Earplugs block hearing. Stuffed sinuses block taste. The weather here has been blocked somehow. It’s simply not there.

The race is about to start. I look down and see that I’m wearing…flipflops. I’ve managed to leave my running shoes and socks upstairs in the room. Well, this won’t do. The race starts and I head back to the lobby of our hotel, a massive tower a few blocks from the start. There’s bank of eight elevators, seven of which are out of order. So I wait for the single working elevator’s arrival. It takes a long time.

Everyone piles in and we make at least 18 stops on the way to our floor. I get my shoes, grab my laptop, and head back to the starting line. Needless to say, no one’s there, although I’m grateful that the start is still apparently open.

My shoes are on and I’m ready to go. Wait a minute. What’s my laptop doing here? Why did I bring this with me? Should I just leave it here? I’m 45 minutes behind schedule. But I paid $400 for this thing. I’m not going to guarantee that it gets stolen when I can reduce the chances of that by at least 50% by bringing it back up to the room.

So up I go again, although this time I take the stairs because I know it will be faster than waiting for a broken elevator. I’ll just treat it as my warmup. In the room, I do a final check in front of the mirror to make sure I have everything I need and nothing I don’t. Check. I head back down the stairs.

I return to the starting line to discover that it’s been moved. So now I wander the streets, looking for race volunteers. I find one who gives me vague instructions: “Left for 100 yards, then catty corner right to the construction lot, look for the portapotties…”

Miraculously, I find it. I look at my watch. The race started exactly two hours ago. Should I even run it? Fuck it. I hit the Start button and go. No matter how well I do the official results will be an embarrassment, as there are no timing mats. But at least I’ll know what I ran.

In the first mile I pass two people: men in head-to-toe dresses, moving at a crawl. Even here in Buttfuckistan, or wherever this is, there are fitness walkers! I realize I’m the only woman I see anywhere, on the course or on the street. I’m wearing my split shorts which, under the right conditions, may as well be a g-string. It occurs to me that this might be one of those countries where women get beaten by strangers and family alike for so much as revealing a bare wrist. But everyone seems cool with my scantily clad self.

I’m running comfortably, passing the odd guy in a dress, when I realize that for the first time ever I’m able to hit all the tangents. I also notice that the organizers have been thoughtful enough to paint a steady line along the course. This is a relief, since, given that the course snakes through a giant construction site, I was figuring it was only a matter of time before I got lost. The line is a soothing green with some blue in it, and it’s rendered brighter against the dull backdrop of steel, concrete and battleship grey of the day’s weatherless skies.

I see the male leader on his way in. Then, about 15 minutes later I spot Jonathan, his form unmistakable: silver haired, floating, fat free. He looks tense and I realize that he’s probably concerned at not having seen me on the course. I’m pained to think that he’s spent most of his race worrying about me.

He spots me just as I pass the 3 mile marker and gives me an OhGodWhatTheHellHappenedToYouThisTime?! look. I smile and give an enthusiastic thumbs up, which manages to make him look even more baffled. Then I start laughing my ass off.

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