What Winning Feels Like

A long time ago, when I was in grade seven, I won a public speaking contest. I wrote and performed a seven minute speech on the subject of…radio. I still remember my shock when the president of Port Dalhousie’s Royal Canadian Legion stood up and read out the lucky winner’s name: David Carroll.

public speaking trophy

I was sure he’d made a mistake. I’d never won anything in my life. No academic awards, no arts awards, and certainly nothing related to sports.  At track and field days, I always got the purple ribbon. The pathetic one that all the kids got. The one that said “participant.”

Surely I couldn’t have won that trophy.  Could I?

I felt the same way yesterday when, for the first time in my life, I finished FIRST in a sporting event.

cavan hills banner

It was a 10 kilometer run up and down the diabolical hills of Cavan-Monaghan county. Granted, it’s an out -of-the-way race. And more people were running with strollers or dogs or phalanxes of small children than were running competitively.

Cavan Hills 4/10 km Walk/Run, 2013

But still – I WON! Ask anyone in the greater Ida/Cavan/Pontypool business triangle. I was the talk of the town(s). That day belonged to ME!

David, with the shoes

All of the credit goes to my brand-new, Medusa-ugly running shoes. You can see them off in the distance there; slicing through the fog like two butt-ugly neon lasers.

The promise of butter tarts at the finish line probably didn’t hurt my finishing time either. And my finishing kick was ignited (as always) by my family, whose cheering is like an adrenaline shot to my legs.

Gotta tell you though: it was a weird feeling, leading the race. Usually I can relax and enjoy the scenery at these events, but once I found out I had the lead, I was determined to hang on to it.  So I didn’t relax. Instead, I PUSHED. Which wasn’t easy, given the villainous hills on the course. Hills more evil than…Dick Cheney? Yes, they were Dick Cheney hills.

Cavan Hills 4/10 km Walk/Run, 2013

Later, standing on the podium, I grinned and grinned. I wanted to stay up there forever, waving at my adoring fans. But for some reason, the volunteers, who’d been up baking butter tarts and hoisting tents since 5 a.m. wanted to tear things down and go home for a nap.

WAIT A SECOND, I thought, as they tried to sweep me off the podium. How dare you evict me from this hay-bale stage?! Don’t you know that this is my moment? The moment I’ve been dreaming of all my life? No more purple participant ribbons for me! From now on it’s all —

What’s that? You don’t care?

Okay then, FINE. I’ll take another butter tart, please.

first place ribbon