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