This is my contribution to Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday Challenge with the prompt of Cheers. Read more at her blog: https://lindaghill.com/category/stream-of-consciousness-saturday/
The police car urged me along from behind, inches from my scuffling feet, impatiently forcing my forward progress toward the finish line.
Okay, okay. Don’t rush me.
I struggled the final 100 yards, gasping for air, and praying I would terminate this ordeal upright.
A crowd greeted my struggling accomplishment with cheers of support. I celebrated by throwing up and wetting my pants.
My first race, and I finished. I started the five-mile route with a beginner’s enthusiasm and doubt, and ended it with a veteran’s exhaustion and humiliation.
But, I did it, even though the woman ahead of me walked most of the way.
I collapsed on the warm concrete curb, my head hanging between my legs, longing to be invisible.
Don’t look up. Act like you aren’t here. No one will notice you have water pooling at your feet.
Two friends and I started the race together, but the younger and faster twosome, sped off early leaving me to trudge at my turtle pace. My running mates spotted me hiding in plain view, alone and nursing my shame. They charged my way with arms waving in victory, high-fiving anyone near, and declaring triumph for surviving this self-imposed challenge. They were giddy with excitement and I was dizzy with the desire to be carried to my car.
The three of us started jogging a few months earlier stretching our distance gradually, but never mastering anything beyond two miles. Aflame with confidence these youngsters were convinced we were ready to test our endurance and ability by more than doubling our previous best.
They are out of their ever lovin’ minds thinking I can run five miles.
My ego overriding good judgement, I signed the form, paid the $20 entry fee, and hoped torrential rain would make an unprecedented west Texas visit on the dreaded summer day.
Here I sat, bright sunshine, soaking wet, not from a storm, and wondering if I could stand and walk with any dignity.
“Runners, it’s time to announce category winners,” the organizer yelled.
Please don’t give an award to the contender with nudge marks from the law enforcement vehicle on her backside! Being last isn’t my idea of a perfect finish.
Hoping one of my companions would win or place in her designated class, I ambled to join the sparse crowd, and hooted as champs were recognized. No awards for either friend, so I headed to the car.
“The winner in the 40-50 age group is Margo Fields,” blared over the microphone.
Holy cow. I came in last. How did I win anything?
I lugged my tired body to the front of the crowd amid laughs and a small smattering of shouts and applause. I didn’t know whether to be proud or embarrassed at the gigantic medallion hanging to my waist on a wide red, white and blue ribbon.
But as I strutted away, I decided a medal overrides shame. And being the only person in an age category does have its benefits even when you are last.