Once upon a time in a land far, far away (well actually, not that far, just 45 minutes away) a princess woke with a start in her towering loft, which was located on the north end of the Forest of Running Shoes. The clock sitting on her nightstand, which was made from a stack of running shoes, screamed at her to get up. It’s 6 a.m., he barked. The princess rubbed her eyes, looked at her insulin pump, which told her in a soothing voice, the clock was mistaken, it was in fact only 5 a.m., she could still sleep another hour. But that damn clock, he mockingly laughed.
“Daylight Savings! Daylight Savings! Daylight Savings! Mwahahahaaaa!”
The princess grudgingly pulled herself up from the bed, stomped to the shower room, looked in the mirror and nearly screamed herself. There was no botox-glowing Cinderella, no collagen-lipped Jasmine, no porcelain-perfect Snow White. Oh no, staring back at Princess of Pavement was a raccoon-eyed, puffy-cheeked princess with straggly two-toned espresso-brown hair and sheet creases lining her blotchy face.
Princess of Pavement grabbed her fuel belt, climbed down the tower, and met up with her fair maiden friends Carolina and Blainalina.
Now, the Forest of Running Shoes isn’t your average forest. No one frolicks here, no one lazily stares up at the clouds here, we don’t pick the buttercups, or have picnics. We run. Insects run, flowers run, butterflies run, trees run, grasses run, animals run, princesses run.
Most days the runs are beautiful runs, but on this day, evil was in the clouds. Not even 4 km into the run, Princess of Pavement knew something wasn’t right.
“My feet feel heavy. My calves feel like a knife is being ripped down them. And my ankles don’t feel like they’re mine. They feel like, like … an elephant’s!”
Carolina and Blainalina looked down.
“Oh no!” they gasped.
Princess of Pavement looked down.
At that very moment the dark angry clouds parted.
“Look! Over there,” shouted Carolina.
It was the Evil Pace Bunny. His voice amplified over the entire forest.
“If you want your princess feet back, you must finish your 23 km before I finish my 16 km. If not, your feet are FOREVER mine! Mwahahahahaaa!”
Princess of Pavement breathed a sigh of relief. We’ve already started, she thought. He hasn’t even changed into his gear and he’s on the other side of the forest, there’s no way he’ll be starting for another 45 minutes yet, and by that time I’ll be well into my second half. No problem.
Carolina and Blainalina knew better. They knew Evil Pace Bunny would not play fair, he would not run her 7:00 min per km pace, he wouldn’t even go his 5:30 LSD pace – he’d be knocking a 4:30 pace or better. He was evil after all.
Five kilometres later, Evil Pace Bunny had whipped up the winds into a tornado-like speed and hollered out to the rains. But even when it felt as though Mohammad Ali in his prime were holding her in her place, she fought with all her might, kicking and punching that wind with every stride she took.
“I can’t run a marathon with elephant feet, no, no, no.”
Six kilometres later, the princess and fair maidens were forced into a game of DodgePuddle do-do-dooooooo. The streets were puddles, the sidewalks were puddles, the curbs were puddles. Big puddles, small puddles, swimming pool sized puddles. And these puddles, they didn’t just get you wet, oh no, they had a colony of broken marathoners living inside them waiting to pull you under and take over your healthy legs.
But thanks to Carolina and Blainalina’s hop-scotch style running, the Princess made it through elephant feet still attached.
At 20 km completed, the Princess was sure she had the Evil Pace Bunny beat. But then the orchard of Pounding Pines came alive. Everywhere they turned a Pounding Pine charged at them swinging their limbs in every which direction. The fair maidens froze. But the Princess, with her voice quivering, started singing a broken record concoction of Bryan Adams.
“I got my first real six string, bought it at the five and dime … cuts like a knife, but it feels so right, na-na-nah-na-na-naaa …”
With the coyotes howling, the fair maidens joined in:
“Straight from the heart, tell me we can maaaaaake another start, you know I’ll never gooooo as long as I know … Everything I do, I do it for you … Those were the best days of our lives.”
See, it was a well-known fact in the Forest of Running Shoes that the Pounding Pines can’t stand Bryan Adams. They instantly began to wilt, and the girls were back on the road, sprinting with all their might. The hip pain, the blisters, the chafing, the cold was all but forgotten, these girls were on a mission.
Five minutes remaining. Four minutes. Three minutes. Two minutes. One minute. With 30 seconds to spare, Princess of Pavement ran into Evil Pace Bunny’s hollowed out tree huffing and puffing, heaving and wheezing. Seconds later, Evil Pace Bunny ran in. Princess of Pavement had beat the bunny.
Evil Pace Bunny kept to his word. He tugged on his floppy ear and Princess of Pavement’s shoes and feet came tumbling out, and with a wiggle of his nose the elephant feet were gone.
But the thing with Evil Pace Bunny, he doesn’t like losing a race (just ask Tony the Tiger) and before Princess of Pavement knew what was happening, he had tugged on his other ear and snap, her hands were gone!
What? Did you think this would be a tale with a happy ending? Did you not notice the bunny’s name? He’s eeeeeeeeeeeeevil!