Out of Retirement…for a Total of 10 Seconds

“Who wants to sub in for this race?”

As I heard these words emit from the mouth of Ms. Fletcher (Jacob’s grade 3 teacher) I knew it was my chance to re-live my track and field glory days.

“I will.”

The scene was the St. Paul School relay practice at Richmond’s Minoru Track on Wednesday morning.  As usual, I brought Sean and Jake for their 7:30am practice, but on this particular morning, I unusually stayed to exercise as well.  It was now just after 8am, and I had just completed my admittedly wimpy workout of alternating jogging and walking for half an hour.  One of the grade 4 girls was still in the washroom when it was her turn to run…giving me my chance.

As the first girl Abby made her way around the first bend in lane two, I could see her eyes light up as she approached me.  It would be too presumptuous (and flat-out wrong) to say she was happy to see me, rather I think she was quite shocked to see a large 37 year-old parent in her lane.  As she came within a few metres of me, I started running with my left hand extended backwards.  She made a perfect pass of the baton and I was off to the races both literally and figuratively.

While barreling down the back straightaway, I had a flashback to high school when I was probably in the best shape of my life (or close to it).  Back then, I was actually a decent sprinter…my best time in the 100m dash was sub 13 seconds.  Of course, I was about 40 pounds lighter than I am now.

Anyway…I felt really good as I roared past the 9 year-old on my right leaving him or her in the dust.  That’s how fast I was going: I can’t even remember if I was racing against girls or boys.

And then it happened.  It was my turn to pass the baton to Sarah.

Now let me tell you about Sarah.  She is super sweet, extremely polite and a heck of a lot smaller than me.  I know her parents Tricia and Juna relatively well.  In fact, Juna and I have known each other since junior high school when we immediately bonded as two of the few Japanese kids in school (well…half-Japanese in my case).

Perhaps I was thinking of all these things as I approached Sarah at a speed I haven’t achieved since running away from Gail during one of our arguments at home.  I’m pretty sure I yelled “Go” but I’m also pretty sure that Sarah didn’t hear me.

The next thing I knew, I had run into Sarah from behind knocking her to the ground.  Somehow during the impact and her subsequent fall I had managed to successfully pass the baton to her as she still held it in her hand as she was lying on the track.

After taking a brief moment to admire her concentration, I went to help her up.  In doing so I impeded the progress of the runner in lane one on my left, making him run around me.  So in a span of five seconds, I likely disqualified two of the three teams in the race.  Good thing it only was a practice.

Sarah picked herself up assuring me that she was okay as she completed her leg of the race. What a trooper.

After the race I approached Sarah and apologized rapidly and repeatedly.  I think I also tried to make her promise not to tell her Dad.  At any rate, she accepted at least one of my apologies and gave me a high-five to signal her sincerity.

Embarrassed, I gathered up my belongings and tried to explain myself to all of the teachers who were present.  I told them that after my brief 10-second foray back into track and field that I was going to retire from competition for good….for the sake and safety of all those around me.

I’ll go back to sports where contact is allowed…inadvertent or not.