So the Pittsburgh Marathon is a week from today, and there are a lot of reasons why I’m running: to compete with myself, body and mind; seek accomplishment for all of my mishaps – my sense of purging. It’ll also be a welcome for me to my new city (yes I finally said it. We’re moving to the ‘burgh!). But there’s another big reason: to get my Smiley cookie.
“Huh?” You must be thinking. Let me back up to last year when I ran the half in Pittsburgh. After a hard run I sometimes go into a runners daze. It’s almost as if I’m a little drunk. My mind gets cloudy and I don’t always think straight. Well last year, right after I came over the finish line I was handed the tinfoil-like wrap, water (I grabbed 2 cups – I was thirsty), then a banana, and then a Smiley cookie. If you’re familiar with Pittsburgh then I’m pretty sure you’re familiar with the Smiley cookie. If you aren’t, well it’s really just a simple sugar cookie with a smiley face on it. But Pittsburgh takes their cookies seriously (just go to a Pittsburgh wedding and take a look at the cookie table).
Well as I’m walking along, with my hands and arms piling up with all these goodies, I’m beginning to realize that Pete and I planned so much about how to get to the race that we totally neglected coming up with a plan of where to meet up afterwards. My mind was trying to think of what to do, how to find him, what he was wearing, but the runner’s fog was taking over. Next thing I know I’ve come to the end of the line. I was met by a “green” booth operated by a very nice woman who said “Paper,” “Banana peels,” and “Trash” as she pointed to each garbage can designated to those items. I looked at her blankly. I was trying to keep the wrap over my shoulders while holding all of my items. I just stood there, trying to figure out my next move. She repeated herself, “Paper, bananas and trash go right here sweetie.” I can’t explain why I did what I did next. I truly can’t. I walked in front of the can designated for banana waste, leaned over, dropped my Smiley cookie in the bin and mumbled, “This is for the food”. Before she could give me a weird look (which I’m sure she did) I quickly walked off.
I wandered around for a little while before a very nice police officer approached me and asked if I wanted to use her cell phone to call my family. Thankfully Pete answered, and we were finally able to rendezvous. Pete gave me a big hug and a big “Congratulations”. I mumbled that I threw away my Smiley cookie. “Huh?” he said. I had to repeat myself a few times before he recognized the funk I was in. And then he laughed. Of course. We went to Eat ‘N Park up in North Park after the race, and Pete offered to buy me a Smiley cookie. But I felt like I couldn’t accept. Like I really needed to earn another one.
Pete said to me a few weeks ago, “You know, if someone in Pittsburgh wants a Smiley cookie they can usually just go down the street and get one for $1.25. Only you would pay a $65 entry fee to a race, spend six months of your life training in the rain and snow, and then wake up at 5am to run a crazy distance just to get a cookie. You’re really special, Ror.” That I am!