The Third Best Thing About Running 5Ks

As I have mentioned, over and over, in an effort to humblebrag my way to your respect, gentle reader, I run a number of 5Ks in the autumn and winter.

This is because my boys are in their middle school cross country program, but since they go to a small school, their cross country events are not actually meets with other schools. Rather, they run 5Ks in their school uniforms, and once they started doing so, I started running as well because physical self-abuse of distance running is easier than making small talk with the other parents or just lingering around the event venue awkwardly without making small talk (my preferred option of the two).

As I’ve entered my third year this season, I’ve come to appreciate the finer points of distance running. To whit:

  1. It feels so good when I stop.
  2. I don’t have to make small talk with the other parents and embarrass myself.
  3. I get to make quips as I’m running.
  4. There are free bananas at the end.

Perhaps the last thing is the best thing. Like, on Saturday, when I crossed the finish line…

…I said, “I’m pretty tired. I think I’ll go home now.”

Come on, that’s from Forrest Gump:

I had to explain that to my wife. Come on, the film in only twenty-four years old now, old man. Surely you remember it?

I’ve also used the line noted as number 1 above, which is from an old joke: A doctor asks a man why he keeps hitting himself with a hammer, and the man says it feels so good when he stops.

At any rate, the highlight of the run for me is the things I quip at other runners and volunteers on the route.

I try to keep my breathing such that I can shout out good morning to the volunteers along the route, pointing us in the correct direction, or to people who come out in their front yards to watch us go by. But I like to crack wise as well.

Some of my favorites include:

  • It’s a lovely day for a walk.
  • There must be some mistake. I signed up for the 100 meters.
  • Are you in my age group? Good, I don’t have to pass you.
  • Can you get me an Uber?
  • Are we there yet?

Or whatever fool thing comes to mind. Of which there are plenty, because 5Ks give you a lot of time to think, and they give me a lot of time to think fool things.

The quipping keeps me from thinking of myself as a serious athlete or runner, that I focus on the wisecracks instead of Peak Performance. I could probably shave a minute off of my time by taking it more seriously, but that would be less fun than running already is not.

The cross country coach referred to these events as races which would put a little pressure to, you know, win if I took him seriously.

Instead, I’ll continue to think of them as moving open mic nights.

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