I run for pancakes. I eat them once a year – after the Fourth of July Firecracker Race! I got an email the day before the race saying the pancake vendor had bailed at the last minute, but luckily another company stepped in and would be providing breakfast burritos. Now I don’t have anything against breakfast burritos, or the alternative choice of bagels and cream cheese. But. I wanted pancakes.
I tried to keep an open mind. Change is good, right? I thrive on change! It’s the only constant in life. I thought about pancakes the whole time I was running in the American flag shorts that I had starved myself for weeks to fit into.
I crossed the finish line, which was my goal this year. As Rod Caborn, emcee extraordinaire announced: “It’s Independence Day folks! Whatever your independent goal is – whether it be to win, to beat your best individual time, or just to cross the finish line – go for it! Half of America is still in bed and you are here running!”
This year some real runners showed up in my age category. They, deservedly, took the top three winning medals and there was no reason for me to hang around. I pouted as I watched the breakfast line patiently waiting outside the clubhouse. A brilliant idea struck: IHOP! Yes, I would high-tail it to IHOP and order a senior special! Two pancakes, two sausage links, and two eggs, all for $7.99. Perfect!
I drove straight to Forty-first Avenue and raced to the restaurant. Hmm, the parking lot was jam-packed. Oh, yeah – it was Fourth of July weekend. The town was loaded with tourists. Rats! What now? I know, I know, I’ll make my own. I raced to Nob Hill and went to the baking aisle. There was cake mix, muffin mix, all-purpose flour, gluten-free flour, whole wheat flour, flax-seed flour and more. Where was the pancake mix? I tracked down an employee. Yes, of course, it was next to the pancake syrup! Whew!
I didn’t want anything fancy – just pancakes. Not so fast…Aunt Jemima, Betty Crocker, or Krusteaz? Gluten-free or buckwheat? (I just want some damn pancakes!) So, I plucked the smallest package off the shelf. I didn’t care what brand. I wouldn’t have them again until next year. And then I grabbed the smallest bottle of Log Cabin syrup I could find and gritted my teeth as I headed for the check-out.
As I stood in line waiting to pay, my mind went back to the image I held in my head of the most outstanding part of this year’s Firecracker. Rod announced that an unprecedented event just took place. It was long after the final runner had crossed the finish line. He boomed over the microphone: “Ladies and gentlemen, please direct your attention to the finish line. Our final racer is crossing the line now – in a wheelchair! He made it up the steep dirt, rock-strewn trail that most people have trouble navigating on foot. He did it in a wheelchair, folks!”
We all applauded him heartily, many choking back tears, some (like me) let them roll, and let that put things in perspective.
I went home, made the pancakes and contemplated how grateful and blessed I am. Many Blessings to you. I hope you had a safe and sane Independence Day!