by Helen Murphy
Run, Maggie, Run!
My husband is not a runner. He is quick to make that clear. Still, in recent weeks he has come to group runs with me twice a week. As we both have come to realize, there is strength in numbers. Running in a group is a kind of positive peer pressure; it helps to get us out there and keep going.
Although I said I wouldn’t go that far, I’ve been training for my first half-marathon (I only signed up because my daughter was doing it. But she got injured early on and had to pull out, so I’m soldiering on, solo.) And recently hubby decided to put his foot into the running water, so to speak, by joining the 5k group.
As I continued on my training program with the required solo runs, he joined me a few times, getting up to 6k and 8k. After his 5k group run this past Sunday, he commented that someone was trying to sell their 10k bib for this coming weekend’s big race. I took that as meaning he was interested.
These races sell out months in advance, with more than 20,000 runners taking part. But with those kinds of numbers, you’ll always find some folks trying to sell their bibs (essentially their registrations) late in the game, due to injuries and other changes in plans. When we asked about this particular bib for sale, it was already gone. So we decided to check on kijiji.
While doing so, hubby was still non-committal about actually doing the race next Saturday. We planned to go out for a trial 10k on Victoria Day. If he got through that still in an upright position, he figured he’d give it a go.
He did indeed finish standing up, and with less colourful language than I had expected. So the search for a bib intensified.
Finally we found one for sale online. Maggie Smith was no longer able to take part, so she offered us a good deal for her bib. But there was one catch that I had to bring to hubby’s attention. He would actually have to run as Maggie Smith.
The May 1 deadline to change the actual name on a bib had passed, so although he could take part, his bib would clearly read “Maggie”.
At first he said no. It was one thing to step outside of his comfort zone to go in a 10k race, with little training for it, but quite another to do so as a woman named Maggie.
On race day, there always are thousands of well-intentioned and enthusiastic folk cheering all along the race route. Sometimes they’ll see your bib and yell out: “Run, Helen, Run!” Or, in hubby’s case: “Run, Maggie, Run!”
Yeah I’m not sure he’ll like that.
I tried to reason him through it. “You know, if you had been a girl, you could easily have been named Mary Margaret.” (It’s a name with some family history.) “You could have been a Maggie.”
It didn’t help.
A friend of mine, Greg, had a similar situation a few years ago with the half-marathon. He had sold his bib to a woman. She didn’t bother to change the name for the time records, and she ran really fast as Greg. So the next year he felt he had to beat his “own” time that was on the race record from the previous year, run by a very athletic woman.
So now, a day later, the whole Maggie issue has settled. Hubby has really come around, and is embracing the challenge of his first 10k. And he’s taking the gender-crisis thing in stride.
Talking about the race this morning, he commented on his Maggie identity: “I’m hoping to accomplish much more in running as a woman, than I ever did as a man.” (A slight theft from Dustin Hoffman's character, Dorothy, in the movie Tootsie.)
Still, I’m adding this to the list of things I never, ever, expected to hear.