Monday Musings… Cujo, You've Met Your Match!

Well, I’ve jumped out of an airplane, heli-hiked on a glacier-topped mountain, walked on the edge of the CN Tower, swam in an underwater cave, but nothing gets my adrenaline pumping more than being chased by a dog!

These past number of weeks I’ve travelled many a county road training for my upcoming 100 km event. I’ve endured plenty of high winds, some stupendously steep hills, and last week I encountered my biggest challenge yet…Cujo. I’ve named my nemesis, Cujo, after the Stephen King psychological horror novel/movie about a seemingly sweet dog turned savage. Now, I’ve neither read the book nor watched the movie, but as a teenager, all I needed was to see the poster next to the marquis to convince myself that having a vanilla cone at Dairy Queen was a much better way to spend my money and my time.

So, last week I valiantly cycled eastward, made it to my turnaround, and switched back into that wonderful wind. Head down, in the Zone, I was focused on that next 15 km stretch when I heard him. With each pedal stroke the sound got louder and deeper. I couldn’t see him… I could just hear this low, guttural, heinous bark coming closer and closer. I didn’t know where this Thing was coming from until… I saw it! His ghostly shadow, this gigantic grey form, approaching my back wheel! I spun my little legs as fast as they could go, trying to outrun the Beast! His menacing growl grew in pitch and intensity. The shadow kept creeping ever closer. I feared we would soon be neck and neck, and then suddenly he'd leap up, take me down, and proceed to tear me into a million pieces! The imagination is a wonderful thing, isn't it? And to think all of this would be happening on a superbly sunny Saturday morning, while early risers sit serenely on their decks slowly sipping their morning coffee, blissfully unaware that I'm now road kill thanks to Cujo!

Well, obviously I lived! Cujo either ran out of steam or he got his thrill out of scaring me half to death and retreated. I’m sure he was smiling with evil delight like the dog in the poster next to the marquis.

A week goes by, the memory of Cujo is long repressed. Beautiful day, hardly any wind, let’s give that route a try and kill those hills! I’m 10 km in and the traumatic memory suddenly resurfaces – Cujo! While many people would simply turn around, I seem to be bent on living on the edge. Why? I do not know. It’s not that it’s fun, in fact it’s the opposite. I suppose in my mind, its another mountain to climb – can I figure out a way to accomplish what seems impossible? Sometimes there’s a fine line between wisdom and foolishness, isn't there?

I spend no time weighing the odds of survival, instead I come up with my game plan to slay this Beast. The first thing I think is that maybe I can sneak by him today. My chain has been nicely oiled and my bike hardly makes a sound. I’ll be smooth and stealth. I convince myself this will work, counting on the fact that it’s early, he could possibly be inside the house or sleeping soundly under a tree outside, and I can simply whiz by without him noticing me. So, I proceed, hands tightly gripped on those handlebars, head down, in the Zone. And I make it to the turn around point! Mission accomplished! No sign of Cujo! Charlene 1, Cujo 0!

I turn my bike around. Take a swig of water. Wipe my brow. Get ready Cujo, it’s Round 2 and I’m coming for ya!

Now, what you should know is that I don’t know where Cujo lives or even what he looks like. I only saw his shadow and because I was infused with panic, I didn’t pay attention to which farm he came from. I had a rough idea kilometer-wise of where he might be, but that was it. So, I had to switch up my game plan. First thought, I could concede. Since I already had one victory, I could take a different route home. This would have been the easiest and safest option, but also the most boring. And, I told myself, I wouldn’t really be able to test myself to see what I am actually capable of doing. Again, fine line between wisdom and foolishness.

So, here was my plan: I knew Cujo resided on the north side of the road from the direction of the sound and the path I was travelling last week. Simple solution: I will travel back on the south side of the road, keeping a watchful eye on the north side farms, until I am confident I have passed his location. Instead of Tom Cruise on his motorcycle for Mission Impossible, I'm CP Mahon, on my Trek, ready to do the Possible! If Tom Cruise can perform his own stunts in his movies, I can do the same in real life!

Now, I know what you're thinking. Travelling on the south side facing traffic is illegal, but I'm pretty sure Tom Cruise/Ethan Hunt didn't follow the highway safety guidelines either. So, I already thought through my script. If a police officer stopped me, I would plead my case and argue it was better for him that he found me alive and not a mangled mess in a ditch on the north side, with Cujo standing over me, frothing at the mouth, with his paw firmly planted on my lifeless body in victory. The officer himself would be too terrified to approach Cujo, so it would be a win for both of us!

Convinced of my logic, I started out, studying each farmhouse as I glided by. After a few kilometres, I noticed something in the distance... something white in the middle of a garden by a farmhouse. Is that a statue? It’s not moving. I couldn’t quite make out the form. As I got closer, it moved slightly and I could see that this Thing was the size of Michelangelo’s David only it had fur on! The statue went from sitting, to prone position, straight into attack mode, and it shot out of the driveway at breakneck speed aiming to cross over to the south side of the road!

When my kids were little, I taught them that if they should ever be afraid and no one was near to comfort them, they should say: “Jesus, help me”. Well, here I am screaming in my head: “JESUS HELP ME! JESUS HELP ME!” 50 times over! (Apparently they did the same in the movie according to the poster!) Legs flying, sweat pouring, heart pumping, prayers soaring, and Cujo right on my tail! If I had been on the north side of the road, I would never have made it, Officer! Charlene 2, Cujo 0.

I have to say it was my fastest test run of the season. I think I’m ready for my 100k race now!

Many people have Cujo’s in their lives. You may be going through a situation right now where you don’t know how you’re ever going to make it. It may seem impossible. Maybe you have too much on your plate. Or maybe you’ve been blindsided and didn’t think anything like this could ever happen to you. Life was going smoothly… until now. A book I was reading recently said that there are no problems in life, just situations to work through. It’s an interesting way to look at the obstacles that are put in your path, that threaten to catch your back wheels and toss you into the ditch. So, looking at your situation, you have two choices: avoid dealing with it, hoping it will go away on its own, let sleeping dogs lie if you will; or tackle the issue by confronting your fear. Until you address your fears though, they will lurk in the shadows of your mind. Remember, there is always a way to get through. Often your greatest fears are no match for the force that you use to defeat them. You truly are capable of handling more than you realize. And once you’ve seen that proof, you know it’s strengthening you for the future!

No one’s ever been promised a rose garden. In fact, if you look close enough, in everyone’s garden, you’ll see a Cujo statue sitting right there in the middle of it. So get ready!

For this week's song I could have chosen "Who Let the Dogs Out" by Baha Men, but decided to go with O.A.R.'s "I Go Through" instead!

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