Saturday was my second 5K race. I hoped to erase memories of my 37:58, when I pulled up injured and saw other racers driving home while I was still running/walking.
Mark Bussen, a coach at Clovis High School, reassured me by saying, “That’s better than everybody who didn’t show up.” Calming words, but they didn’t help. I still had memories to vanquish.
I registered over the phone for the Portales MainStreet race, and called to list my age and T-shirt size.
“OK, Kevin, just make sure you get here in plenty of time to sign a release form.”
I responded, “Oh, that won’t be a problem.”
It was the eve of the race, and I had planned out my perfect morning. My box of Cheerios, an empty bowl with a spoon and a multivitamin were laid on the counter.” On an adjacent chair was my running outfit.
I set the event in my phone. Title: Heritage Days Fun Run. Start time: 8 a.m. Finish time: Hmm, let’s say 9 a.m. All-day event? Let’s hope not. Reminder: 1 hour before. No need to set my trusty Magnavox alarm clock, which I’ve owned since I was a third-grader.
The next morning, I glanced at my old friend Magnavox. It read 6:01, so I went back to the pillow to enjoy my next hour before my phone buzzed and rang.
The next time I came to, I looked at the clock, figuring my alarm should go off any time now. Magnavox said 7:35 — which I said out loud as, “Seven thirty-you’ve-gotta-be-kidding-me…” Thanks, phone.
Sorry, Cheerios, maybe another day. I grabbed the vitamin, threw on the clothes and got to the car. At this point, I’d like to thank the state’s budget shortfall, as it likely led to the lack of police enforcement of the speed limit I ignored to make the race.
I made the race. I signed my release form as the racers were lining up. I still don’t know what that form says — I may have signed off my DVD collection to the Church of Latter Day Saints.
I didn’t have much time to process, because I was still pinning on my label that identified me as runner 136 as I jogged the first three blocks.
My pocket started to vibrate … who was texting me during an important event like this? It was my phone, reminding me of the race. Thanks, phone.
The blocks came a little bit easier this time around, with no injury to slow me down and weeks of preparation at my side.
But that’s when I realized something else Bussen always says — genetics are the strongest indicator of what kind of athlete you can be. Some people are born distance runners. Those are the people who were about two blocks ahead by the time my number was on.
I walked a little more than I wanted on the route, but there was a lot more jogging this time than my first 5K. As my friend Matt said, “You looked more in control of your element.” I’m not sure how he made that call, since he was so far ahead of me — Matt has genetics, and he ran college cross country. My genetics, meanwhile, have allowed me to watch all five seasons of “The Wire.”
Matt won our age group, having beat me by a scant 13 minutes. I finished third in my age group at 32:49 — five minutes faster than my previous 5K. I’ve still got memories to vanquish, but I have a bronze medal and a faster time.
I don’t plan to write one of these every time I do a 5K. I look forward to the time when I have nothing to write about but a boring, productive race.
Next time, I hope I break 30 minutes. My Magnavox will have more of a role.