I ran 20k today.

My marathon training schedule said 19, but I went the extra kilometer to get to my in-law’s house to refill my water bottle. It was a tough run, considering I had NO idea there were three big hills in my way.

But now I feel great again – a big improvement from my first half marathon, which basically left me paralyzed for the entire week. Let’s hear it for post-run stretching!

I had a lot of time to think during my run this morning, so I came up with some more of the 28 moments I’m thankful for. Here are a couple:

17. THE CHEETAH AND THE IMPALA.

Michael Andrew, my running coach, told me a story once about something he saw when he went to Africa. I’m not sure if he meant it to motivate me, but I think about it every time I have a tough run.

He tells about a day when he went on a safari and witnessed a cheetah chasing a baby impala. As we know, the cheetah is the fastest land animal in the world, and I’ve often wondered how it could NOT catch any prey it wanted. Certainly the baby impala’s fate was sealed.

But Michael says the tiny impala started running in tight, continuous circles. This prevented the cheetah from achieving any kind of speed or distance, paralyzing its greatest strengths. But the cheetah kept chasing and the impala kept running. So around and around they went…

The chase lasted a while, until ultimately to everyone’s astonishment, the cheetah gave up and ran away. The baby impala survived.

I love that story because that’s what long distance running means to me: perseverance and determination and never giving up. And I know that if I can do that, it doesn’t matter how small I am. I can run with giants.

18. THE WEB.

When I lived downtown I used to run along the lake, past many of Toronto’s major attractions very early in the morning. I loved how these packed venues were dead silent and completely empty at sunrise. Rich in detail with things that you never notice in the big crowds.

On one of my runs I caught a glimpse of something glimmering over one of the big concrete, city garbage cans. I ran closer to take a look.

The concrete garbage can was a perfect circle about waist-high, bolted right to the ground with a big round metal opening. As I got closer I saw what had caught the sun’s reflection: right across the entire garbage opening, a spider had decided to build its web.

Because the garbage opening was a perfect circle, it was the most perfectly formed spider’s web I have ever seen. The middle of the web where all the threads joined together was hovering directly over the middle of the can, like a target.

I paused for a minute to watch this spider at work. It must have been busy all morning, completely oblivious to the looming destruction and possible death that awaited. The garbage can was empty, but it was clear that in a few short hours when the first person dropped something in, this spider’s life would change.

A few feet away, at Ontario Place, I noticed that there had been some kind of preparations for an event. Some entrances had been taped off in an effort to direct people in an orderly fashion. I ran back to those spots and gathered up the caution tape. Then I ran back to the spider and carefully taped off that entire garbage can. And I went on my way.

Everybody needs a little help sometimes.

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