at the races What if?

What if?


I had just started up the Burrard Street Bridge when my right forearm started to cramp. 

I had just finished my most recent bottle and found that holding it was making my hand and arm start to Charley horse. Not exactly a great sign knowing there was still 12 kilometres left in the race. 

I took another salt tab, repeated my mantra: “You’re fine. You’re safe,” and kept running. 

Just after the downhill of that bridge, both calves raised a warning shot.

I made it to 35 kilometres before both calves went. 

By 37K, Dayna had passed me with a move my lil’ calf muscles had no interest in entertaining. 

“It’s not just your forearms that are unhappy with you right now,” they not so subtly hinted.

A few minutes later, my left hamstring grabbed and I walked a few steps holding it. I thought maybe I was done for the day. I then remembered the outcome was not my major concern. 

Yes. I wanted to win—who lines up not wanting the best outcome? 

But it was more important to cross the finish line where Zachary, my Dad, my friend Chris—and so many others—faltered those final steps before.

For a minute my brain asked me a question.

“What if you were less of an asshole?”

Meaning: what if you started running a little more, drank a few less beers, and actually took things a bit more seriously … again?

My immediate—read visceral—response was: “I. Don’t. Want. To.”

It’s not that I line up for these races thinking they are a joke—or disrespecting the work that goes into organizing them, the work of my competitors, the work of every person lining up to race or helping put the event on (often volunteering their already stretched and precious time). 

I line up wanting the best of what my body will give me that day and ready to compete within the realm of whatever that is.

It’s that I do not feel ready—not now, and maybe never again—to go all in.

Not when I am uncertain if I can go all in and still protect the piece of happiness I have been able to find in all of the darkness of the past six years.

“What if?” It’s a loaded question.

What if I chased Zach down that last night I saw him, texted him when he didn’t show up to walk our dogs? Would he not have texted his dealer that night?

What if I could change the last time I saw my Dad?

What if I could go back and change the last interaction I had with my partner before he decided to cheat?

There are some ponders that we will always have. But I’ve learned that changing my actions doesn’t guarantee others will behave any differently.

What if I decided to be “Olympic Lanni” again—or at least try to be?

I’ve learned that I don’t want to be “Olympic Lanni” if it means the same mental state I was in back then. Chasing new titles and accolades isn’t worth revisiting “that” Lanni.

I trust that my body will let me do with it what I can—within certain limits. 

What I am saying is I am not ready to press what those limits are when it comes to my mental and emotional health and happiness. 

I like how I approach running and racing right now. 

I am still hungry enough to see what my legs will carry me to next time. I just also respect that that hunger doesn’t have to mean total sacrifice. 

I’m not done training, and trying. I’m just not ready to be any other version of Lanni than I am right now and that’s ok. I’m not there—yet—and that “yet” is ok.

I want to see what I can do. But I want it to be on my terms this time—even if those terms are a bit unconventional. 

It’s why I’m lining up for the Ottawa Marathon, four weeks after the Vancouver marathon. My fourth marathon in seven months after a five year hiatus from marathoning—and well, the sport if we are being honest.

It’s why I’m writing this sipping on one of my favourite IPAs.


  1. 👏👏👏👏👏 What if indeed – the day running makes one’s life worse is the day to change how / why you run

  2. We’ll articulated! Although I’m nowhere near the level you are even on your bad days, I can certainly feel your pain and admire your strength and courage as you seek to overcome your obstacles. I wish you nothing but positive vibes on your journey.

  3. Congratulations! You are so strong! Keep being yourself! Will be cheering for you all the way, in Ottawa!

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