After a nearly five-year absence from the sport in which I completed six marathons, I very recently started running again. While the times in my previous running career were nothing to write home about, I once won an age-group award despite the fact that there were actually other people in my age group. Granted, there were also only fewer than 30 people altogether in that race and I nearly got beat by a preschooler, but still.
It doesn’t appear as if another marathon is in my future, but I’m happy these days to get my legs moving at a pace slightly faster than a walk. What’s helping me this time around too is the Olympics, as I imagine the broadcast announcers in London are also in my head when I trot off on my 3.84-mile loop on most mornings.
“Look at the way she skillfully ran around that sprinkler without getting even a drop of water on her,” Announcer A whispers — in my mind — with awe each day.
“And how she didn’t stop and yet deftly observed in great detail those newly sprouted sunflowers in the neighbor’s garden,” Announcer B replies admiringly. “It’s rare to come across an athlete so completely focused on her sport who can still manage to avoid stepping in an enormous pile of dog poop.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a runner ascend a hill that small quite so slowly,” Announcer A says thoughtfully. “But she must know something we don’t and is likely saving herself for some other difficult part of the course coming up. Even though we actually know there isn’t one.”
“Listen to the roar of that crowd as she nears her front door!” Announcer B cheers. “She completed the same run for the third time this week — a three-peat! Let’s just hope she sees her older daughter’s scooter on the ground before it’s too late. Whoa! That was a close call!”
“Judging by that look of ambivalence on her face as she checks out her final time, I can only speculate about the range of emotions she’s experiencing right now,” Announcer A says. “That, and she’s probably hoping when she walks inside she’ll find her husband has already cleaned up after the kids’ breakfast and is starting to get them dressed for the day.”
The thing is, I’ve had imaginary announcers in my head for years, and not just for sports-related activities. I occasionally play solitaire on my iPhone to pass the time, and the announcers make cameos at clutch moments.
“What a treat to watch a card player this good,” says Announcer A. “She’s one of the few pros who know it’s a total waste of a move to put down a two or three because she’s saving them for the ace piles without locking up the other cards unnecessarily.”
“Yes, but I’m still surprised she missed the opportunity in this hand to pull that nine of spades from the pile. Now she’s going to have to wait until it comes around again,” cautions Announcer B. “She can pretty much kiss a time award goodbye, but she’s already proven that she has a long, promising career ahead of her in solitaire.”
Sometimes when I’m out in public, I have to improvise when changing my younger daughter’s diapers. This is my second time at the baby rodeo, so not only do I have it down, but I like to think I’m doing pretty well. The Olympic announcers in my head agree.
“I’m not sure in the history of diaper changes we’ve ever seen someone use so few wipes for such an awful mess,” Announcer A says excitedly. “We might just be witnessing a new world record here, folks.
“And did you see how she managed to put her baby on that changing table while managing to avoid having the baby actually touch the table?” Announcer B replies incredulously. “Most moms feel they’re walking away from a public changing table with traces of fecal matter everywhere, but she can walk away with the satisfaction of knowing it was a clean job well done. This’ll be a story for the ages.”
In my mind, I medal frequently in other areas of my life, too.
Driving: “With a car as wide as hers, and with that baby mirror affixed to the headrest of the rear passenger seat, people don’t realize how hard it is to see behind her when she’s moving into the right lane,” Announcer A comments breathlessly. “It’s a wonder she moved around the road as adeptly as she did just now, particularly since only moments earlier her older daughter threw an empty Goldfish snack cup at her head. It’s a real testament to her driving.”
Fighting with my husband: “Only a few women on the planet have the strength and skill to hold back when hit with the ‘I feel like I’m in ‘The Twilight Zone’’ retort from their husbands,” Announcer B comments reverentially. “What we’re witnessing here is a true professional.”
Quieting my older daughter’s tantrums: “Other moms wish they could shut up their kids simply by saying the number one with a tone that fierce,” Announcer A marvels. “Once in a lifetime do we see a mom shut down her child as swiftly as this mom just did. Man, she scared me when she said it!”
Look for me on Wheaties boxes on supermarket shelves near you (in my mind) soon.
More at www.meredithcarroll.com.