Gonna Need a Bigger Bucket
At home, my wife and I write lists for everything. Going camping? List. Getting the kids ready to go back to school? List. Grocery shopping? List. They work. Lists help get things done. These lists also fill me with dread. Invariably, they involve performing a series of chores and other drudgery.
I have another kind of list. It’s full of dreams, fun, fulfilment, magic and voyages to exotic lands. It’s my running bucket list, and it’s all in my head. But that doesn’t make it any less real. It started with just one item: to finish a marathon. Once that was done, I planned to tick that item off my mental bucket list and return to doing some casual runs around my neighbourhood to stay in shape.
But the first marathon in Toronto sent my mind scribbling madly, adding new mental bullet points. First, the Boston Marathon, and then, of course, New York City. From there, I started adding other race distances to the list. I checked off a 5k, four miles, 8k, five miles, 10k, 15k, 10 miles, 20k, half-marathon, 30k, and a bunch more marathons.
I greedily upped the tally on the list. I wanted to set some Guinness World Records, to run a marathon pushing my daughter in a stroller and to run a marathon while juggling. Check, check and check.
But each time I crossed an experience off my list, more items jumped into my head.
I took up ultrarunning and ran the Canadian 100k Championships, but had to stop at 50k due to an Achilles injury, so that box remains unchecked. During that run, I met a guy who convinced me that a 24-hour track race would be a good idea, so I added that one to the list.
During a heat wave a few years ago, I went out for a run imagining I was in Badwater, the 135-miler in Death Valley, Calif., the hottest place on Earth. That’s now on the list. When I ran a three-day stage race, I figured I had to add the six-day Marathon des Sables in Morocco to the list.
I started running masters track 800m races, and figured I should do every track distance and event from the 60m to the 10,000m, and throw some steeplechase, hurdles and high jump in there, too.
Naturally, I need to do the Cabot Trail Relay, and all the Abbott Marathon Majors, preferably all in the same year. Oh, and run a marathon on every continent, and in every province and territory. Hey, maybe all the U.S. states, too. A cross-Canada run? Why not. A 50-mile and 100-mile trail race, and then Western States in Squaw Valley, Calif., the hurt 100 in Hawaii and the Ultra-Trail du MontBlanc – added.
Runners talk a lot about setting goals, reaching them, and re-establishing new goals. It makes running sound like a job, but it’s just the opposite. The running experiences we seek free us from the mundane parts of normal life.
But even with my overf lowing bucket list keeping my dreams alive, most of the best running moments were those that happened unexpectedly. One day, during a training run for the stroller-pushing marathon record, I taught my daughter how to say the word “birdie,” and then listened to her point out all the birdies along the route. Heart bursting with parental joy during a run? Check. Michal Kapral has set multiple running-related world records – the stranger, the better.