When Fic­tion Be­comes Re­al­ity

Your rac­ing dream can come true, even when you for­get it ex­isted in the first place

Canadian Running - - MICHAL KAPRAL - When Michal Kapral got tired of win­ning reg­u­lar old marathons, he started jug­gling while run­ning them. michal kapral

This run­ning story be­gins on the toi­let. I’m so ner­vous about the marathon that I can barely hold onto the mag­a­zine. Af­ter a long while in the wash­room, I change into my race kit, shiny red shorts and sin­glet. My mom drives me to the start line of the Toronto Marathon, on Bloor Street.

I get caught up in a mass of run­ners at the start, many in a rush to pin on their bibs at the last minute. My mom gives me a shoul­der mas­sage as she ac­com­pa­nies me to the start line. I close my eyes and vi­su­al­ize the race un­fold­ing, and when I open them again, I’m the only run­ner stand­ing on the start line. I can’t hear the start­ing gun be­cause of the crowd noise. Freak­ing out, I take off into a sprint un­til I catch up to other run­ners, and then set­tle into a more sen­si­ble pace.

The kilo­me­tres tick away. At around 30k, I start to feel dizzy. I have a cramp, I’ve twisted my an­kle and my legs feel wob­bly. Amaz­ingly I’m still pass­ing hun­dreds of other run­ners. With about 2k to go, I chug a cup of wa­ter and de­vour a banana of­fered from a spec­ta­tor. Look­ing ahead, I can’t see any other run­ners. They must be far ahead.

The crowd cheers as I cross the fin­ish. I feel some­thing along my stom­ach and re­al­ize that it’s the first-place fin­isher’s tape. I won the Toronto Marathon! I lift up my arms in tri­umph and shout, “I did it! I did it!” That was a story I wrote i n Grade 7. I don’t re­mem­ber writ­ing it, but my mom re­cently dug it out of the at­tic while clean­ing out some pa­pers. When she sent me a copy of it, I couldn’t be­lieve it. Seven­teen years af­ter I wrote this work of fic­tion, this story hap­pened for real, in 2002.

I sit on the toi­let, ner­vous about the race, but I’m not in there for long. I slip on my black shorts and white sin­glet. My wife Dianne drives me to the start line in North York, north of down­town Toronto. She doesn’t rub my shoul­ders but tells me to kick some butt. I line up at the front of the line, know­ing I’m in good shape to run a fast time. I close my eyes and vi­su­al­ize the course. The start­ing horn blasts loudly and I take off, set­tling im­me­di­ately into my pace.

Right off the gun, I’m in first place. Ev­ery­thing goes quiet as the noise of the other run­ners fades be­hind me. I hit the half­marathon mark in 1:13 and I’m feel­ing great. At about 25k, I run past my dad, who yells, “Michal, you’re in first place!” I point at the po­lice cruiser ahead of me, and say, “I know, Dad.”

I start to slow down slightly but am still on 2:28-marathon pace with 5k to go. The last 2k are slightly up­hill and into a head­wind. I’m feel­ing dizzy but push on, f ight­ing ev­ery step. Around Queen’s Park Cir­cle, the crowds are thick and cheer­ing loudly. My eyes are blurred from the pain, but I can clearly see the big red fin­isher’s tape up ahead and a clock that reads 2:30. I feel like I’m in a dream, like I’ve thought about this mo­ment for a long time. As I cross the line, I raise my arms up in tri­umph. I did it! I did it!

My teacher gave me a 23 out of 25 on the story. I think I de­serve a cou­ple of bonus points for mak­ing it come true.

“Look­ing ahead, I can’t see any other run­ners. They must be far ahead.”

BE­LOW Michal Kapral won the Toronto Marathon in 2002, just as he imag­ined years ear­lier, in Grade 7

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