I have recently returned from the 2005 World Masters Games. The entire experience was amazing beyond anything I imagined. Over 21,000 athletes from 84 countries competed in a huge variety of sports. Have you ever heard of Babbakak? Ask me about it sometime. The city of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada welcomed us with open arms - signs and special deals everywhere we went. Albertans are celebrating their centennial this year. Their annual Klondike Days celebration took place the same week. The opening day parade took almost three hours and there was not a single professional float to be had. However, the police stock car entry was featured. Edmonton is the provincial capital. The stage was set for a top notch experience.
The Games’ opening ceremonies were thrilling and fairly irreverent. It
was then that I began to realize I was embarking on a personally important
experience. The next day, as I headed for the locker room to change for a
training run, it hit me like a bolt of lightning. I knew for the first time
and without a doubt that I belonged. I had always felt like an impostor, a newcomer.
On this day I knew . . . . . I AM a competitive athlete, one of
the locker room crowd. The next day I walked out onto the track . . . . .
and I knew. I said to George (my honey), “This is My track. I OWN this
track.” I began to cry with the joy of my new knowledge.
Well, by most standards, in the long run I didn’t really own that track. I didn’t earn any medals, although I missed a bronze in the 400 meters by only 0.11 of a second. More importantly, I met and exceeded most of my personal goals. Finally though, that was only a minor part of this amazing experience. The best part was the opportunity to test my competence against women in my own age group. During the season I had run in heats with children or women much younger than myself. The World Games gave me a true picture of where I stand and a glimpse of what I can aim for in the future.
I had the time of my life making friends from around the world and pushing my body to its limits - - - ahhh - - - sigh!