I have a very active imagination, and never more so than when I’m running. One of my favorite scenarios is that I’m winning the NY marathon (sometimes it’s Boston). It doesn’t matter that I’m actually running slow, in my imagination I’m running so fast I’m beating the men. I’m even beating the Kenyans and the announcers are going wild and women all over the world are jumping up and down and cheering at their TV’s and calling each other to share the great news. Abused women are dumping their husbands on the spot they are so inspired. Oprah and Gayle are hugging and toasting me with fancy cocktails even as Oprah gives the order to get me for her next Super Soul Sunday taping or someone’s losing their job. Nike executives are scrambling madly to find my telephone number. They are sending representatives down to the finish line with boxes of running shoes for me, only to sadly discover when they meet my husband that I am a Born To Run devotee and am wearing a thirty year old pair of Asics. Asics, which have been out of business for three years, decides to get back into the game and have filed a new company license by the time I hit mile twenty.
The producers of the broadcast switch out the cart carrying the camera filming me, putting their lone camerawoman on the job, knowing this story needs to be covered by another woman. She has tears running down her face but stays laser focused on getting my image just right, even as she has a fist in the air in solidarity. She zooms in on my face, capturing my perfect eyelashes, the ones I used extra adhesive on so they wouldn’t blow off with my flaming speed. They have held up remarkably, but then again I’m a master at make-up, and eyelashes in particular. I did just the slightest smoky eye to go with my eyelashes and my foundation and blush are impeccably applied. When you are over fifty there is no shame in wearing make-up to exercise and I knew I was going to be on national TV today anyway. L’Oreal sends a representative as well, not knowing I’m a Clinique gal.
I’m running so smoothly it is hard to tell I’m running that fast but they keep checking my splits and I’m scorching it. Each man I pass looks at my back in horror, seeing my bouncing blond ponytail and trim, obviously female, figure. They look at each other, at the cameramen, at the race employees along the route, who let this crazy woman crash their race? The announcers are going apeshit because I am on track to be the first ever sub-two hour finisher. People have been chasing this unicorn for years and it is looking like it might be a woman who catches it first.
Every ex-boyfriend has found a TV and is watching, regretting that they ever lost me, calling all their friends and telling them they dated me. Their current wives are getting more and more annoyed at how complimentary they are of me.
No one can believe a 53 year old woman looks that effing good and Vogue also has a representative down at the finish line to sign me up for a photo shoot. The Vogue representative gets into a hair pulling fight with the Cosmo representative. My husband tells them not to bother, I’m headed straight to Sports Illustrated. Swimsuit edition!
All the girls/women who have ever been mean to me in my life are busy stuffing that information into their unconscious and claiming to have been my best friend.
My dad and brother, who were golfing together, are called in from out on the course and are watching my big finish in the country club bar, which is packed with people cheering me on, high fiving my brother and dad, toasting each other and them with lots of beers.
My mom is on a cruise and someone in the bar points out to her that a woman is leading in the NY marathon and she looks and sees that it is me and starts screaming. People call the ship’s doctor, sure she has lost her mind but they finally realize she is the mother of the most famous woman on earth and instead start buying her drinks and wanting her autograph. When she turns down the drinks (she’s not a fan of alcohol) they switch to buying her shrimp cocktails and lobsters. That doesn’t impress her either since the cruise is all you can eat, and they finally come up with the idea to bring her jewelry from the gift shop. By the time I cross the finish line she is adorned in more diamonds than Elizabeth Taylor.
My sister is at a hockey game and when the big screen switches to the unprecedented event of a woman beating the world’s fastest men in a marathon she discovers it is her sister. Word quickly travels around the stadium and she and her family are invited down onto the ice as the entire place watches, breathless, the finish of my race. Her sons are hoisted onto the shoulders of the toothless hockey players and get rides around the ice as the place starts chanting ‘USA! USA!’ It’s like the two biggest sports miracles have merged. The Olympic track coach happens to be at the hockey game and as he watches my race he holds his heart then looks up in the air and says ‘thank you God!’ He’s sure he can get me for the Olympics and I’m the final piece in his plan to dominate the track and field events.
The footage is streamed live onto scoreboards around MLB parks and games stop to let the crowds watch the finish of the race. All of my husband’s baseball friends and former players are blowing up his phone. He sends out a group text ‘of course she’s winning, she’s a stud!”
The camera takes a break from my perfect eyelashes to zoom in on my “I’m STILL with Her” T-shirt and then to all the arrows pointing to ‘and her’ ‘and her’ ‘and her’ representing all the women in the world. Women around the world cheer in solidarity. Women rock! We rule! We are about to beat the men in a f*#*ing marathon. Hillary Clinton makes her way down to the finish line too, but makes Bill stay home, I’m that attractive. Even though she can see that wrinkled old Bill compares poorly to my husband, who is so handsome he will play himself in the movie about me, she’s been managing Bill a long time and knows she doesn’t have the bandwidth to pay attention to me and keep him from straying at the same time.
Donald Trump, from his solitary confinement prison cell, watches in disbelief. As part of his punishment his cell is equipped with a TV turned on 24 hours a day to MSNBC. Donald has decompensated to the point where he is sure my race is a made up TV show designed to torture him, and that part is true, he’s tortured by it, and yet the pale monster (he is not allowed to have tanning spray in prison and now has the filmy translucence of a jellyfish) can’t look away. His fingers twitch as if he is tweeting but there is no phone in his hands. He flings his head forward to dump his comb-over into his face, hoping to block sight of the TV but without the dye and other products it is just a couple of wisps of white with orange tips and he can still see clearly through it. He knows he should look away but he’s never been able to do even one thing he knows he should do, so he keeps watching, fingers air-tweeting.
My website crashes and my amazon self published book starts selling at a rate of a hundred books a minute. It can’t sell out since it is digital so the numbers just keep climbing and climbing. All the publishers who turned down my books are desperately searching through their emails to see if they still have my contact information.
Someone from the Zac Brown band notices on my website that I said they are my favorite band and sends a car to the finish line with the message that I’m to be their guest at their next concert, which just happens to be that night in NY. We can hang out with the band, and in fact, since they see that I am a dancer too, they will have me on stage with them for as many numbers as I’m willing to give them.
As I close in on the finish line I know there are no men close behind me because there is only one TV cart, and that is my girl right in front of me. I pull off my baseball cap and let my hair blow back like I have a Beyonce fan on me. Glam to the end.
I do it. I finish in 1:58:03, almost two minutes under two hours. I am triumphant and barely winded. The men in the race, once they finally finish, are bent over, hands on knees, gasping for breath, stunned and speechless. A couple of them are throwing up, whether from running hard or being beaten by a woman I don’t know. The world goes crazy, people run into the streets cheering. Women high five each other for the next three hours, tears running down their faces. Around the world news shows have something positive to show for once so run the highlights of me over and over. Malala lets people know she would like to meet me. The Pope sends out a congratulatory tweet. George and Amal Clooney invite me to their Italian lake house to meet the twins. Even more unbelievably, both of my teenagers hug and kiss me. In public.
I agree to appear on every TV show I like and snub the rest (so sorry Pierce Morgan, thrilled to meet you James Corden!). Diane Sawyer comes out of retirement to interview me because I’ve always loved her. That night I dance the night away on stage with the Zac Brown band and stay until morning signing an autograph for every single girl and woman at the concert. My legs are a little sore but that was more from the dancing than the running. Without the need for sleep, and with eyelashes still perfect, I go on Kelly and Ryan because I’ve been a fan of Kelly Ripa’s forever and always thought she and I could be the next Oprah and Gayle.
By this time I’ve slogged my four miles in just under forty five minutes and the most famous woman in the world slips back into her secret identity as a suburban mom. Although, if you look closely, there are signs of my real super hero self – I have a sub-two hour carpool record and my perfect eyelashes truly do stay firmly attached.