I can’t believe how oblivious I was! My host planned it all ahead of time to get us to the marathon venue early, so that neither of us would be late. But I realized I’d left my go-pro charger at the house the moment our car was securely parked. Without second thought, she said, “it’s okay, we still have 30 minutes, I can drive back to the house to get it while you eat your breakfast.” I felt sorry for all the hassles, but her loving smile assuaged my guilt.
I flew to Duluth for one sole purpose. So I must complete this 26.2 miles (42km) 21st annual Northshore inline skate marathon at all cost. During the two months of training in Calgary, I never once deliberately measured the mileage of my everyday skating. Not having driven in years has also deprived my senses for distance. 42km was just a number that I was unable to decipher. But well, who cares about numbers! whether it is 42k or 10,000k, all the same, if a goal is set, I will move heaven and earth to accomplish it.
Skating amongst throng of dedicated people of different age and skill levels, I felt comfortable blending in, especially when I stumbled upon the lighthearted ones who were on the road absolutely for fun, and more importantly, for entertaining others. Onlookers set up chairs and brought their little ones to take up the cheerleading role! It always delights me to see people so committed to participating in the marathon every single year, rain or shine, for decades as a personal ritual. I have decided to skate a marathon in different cities every year from 2016 and on.
“I want to see you fly up the hill now. Don’t let an old man like me overtake you!” A cheerful elder man in his 70’s joked.
My tactic was to never ask about how much time has lapsed because the only thing that was relevant was the completion of the route. Mid way through, my right thigh and waist began to cramp up. I was experiencing so much pain on the right side of my body to a point where I wasn’t able to stand straight up. I feared it was muscle spasm, but I feared more of failing to complete the marathon. I was torn between taking a break on the side and continuing the skate. Knowing the possibility of not being able to get back up after resting, I was determined to bear the pain and kept going. A magic spell seemed to have cast upon me the second I passed through the music station crowded by cheering volunteers the rock bands in the tunnel. The rhythm enthusiastically diffused into my bloodstream unclogging the disturbing knot around my spinal area, and miraculously healed the pain! The very second I skated pass the finish line was captured as one of the most victorious moments in my entire life.
Now, the marathon was over. What’s next? Where am I going to stay?
I don’t know…but I have faith good things are going to happen!
I stepped foot in the expo again. I continued distributing business cards, and of course, conversing with people like I always do. A chatterbox never shuts up. I met Ken, founder of a charitable organization. Since the expo was closing down, he offered to let me store my luggage in his car until I figure out my next move. There was no need more urgent and proper than taking a good shower. So I thankfully passed my luggage to Ken, and scurried off to find myself a shower before attending the award ceremony at the restaurant bar. So shameless only Yanise Ho had the guts to do. I strutted into one of the hotels in downtown, and without even being noticed, I walked into the bathroom by the swimming pool to impregnate my skin with rainfall of warm water. Went in as a sweat-dripping beast, came out as a perfumed-up princess!
I found Ken at the bar again, and after the ceremony was over, He gave me an option to crash at his place for the night. I followed the sign and hopped into the car. As soon as he opened the front door, my jaw dropped to the floor. I’ve never seen a view so scenic! The house was encompassed by translucent glass windows. The patio had an overview of a serene lake shared by a few households. Being a very competent host, Ken inquired if I wanted anything in particular aside from some fine wine. My taste buds instinctively talked on my behalf,”some cheese and crackers would be nice.”
At the patio, we smoked a cigar , jumped into the hot tub, and indulged ourselves in the tranquil night overlooking the placid water and the sky full of glittering stars and the almost-full moon. “If you focus and pay attention, you could often catch a glimpse of a shooting star speed by,” Ken said. Later on, he told me, “I saw you bouncing around in the expo talking to different people. I promise, you are the most cheerful and the happiest person I’ve seen in the past two days!” I exchanged stories with this successful retiree tonight. The foundation of his nonprofit organization was motivated by loss and pain. Losing a child and a loving father in the same month left his broken heart bleeding. The world has no time and leniency to wait on anyone. He could either drown in sadness or actively seal the bleeding heart. Doesn’t everything happen for a reason? Had it not been the tragic death of the beloved, Northern Lights Foundation would probably never have happened, and a lot of families would not have been saved by helpful hands.
*The Minnesota sky was layered very differently from any other sky I’ve seen. It might sound ridiculous that under the very same sky, we all see a different version just like different TV channels in the same TV box.