Yesterday I spent the majority of the day wandering in the wilderness. Literally.
There's a reason for this. I had been asked to join a team of women running an ultramarathon relay through a mountainous course, and together the eight of us covered 50 miles.
As we waited for our final runner to cross the finish line, our team, which had run well for hours without ever being overtly competitive, collectively realized something: we had a shot at winning our division. Then, we realized one more thing: the winners of each division would receive medals.
Ooooh, medals. I could see everyone on the team, myself included, bristle with the possibility.
Drawing on my vast repertoire of quality children's television programming, I must equate this with one of my favorite lines by the narrator in Curious George when George discovers his neighbor flying a kite: "He didn't know what a kite was when he woke up that morning, but now there was nothing more that George wanted than to fly a kite."
We had spent over seven hours in the woods without this possibility even flitting across our radar, but now that we knew medals existed, really, there was nothing more than we wanted than to get one.
Moments later, amid much drama, suspense and disorganization, we got word that our team had won.
I called Joel to tell him the news. His initial response: "Wow! Robin, that's amazing!" Then he followed with a more pragmatic inquiry. "So, how many teams were in your division?"
I countered that details like this weren't all that important in such times of celebration.
Okay, okay, okay... for the record, there were more than two teams in our division. But fewer than four.
Still, we had medals.
I wore that medal home, knowing that the true heroes of the day -- those ultramarathoners who had run the full 50 miles by themselves -- had received the exact same medals, while I had spent most of the time being shuffled around in a comfortable van, listening to an eclectic soundtrack that my teammates had created, occasionally eating trail mix and M&M's, and at one point, running my brief leg of the race.
Still, if anyone wanted to mistake me for an ultramarathoner and, say, ask for an autograph or offer a free massage, I would have let them.