I’m trying to remember how long it’s been since I ran a 5k race. Two years? Three years? I covered the distance with my neighbor a week ago but I haven’t run a bonafide race in years; two or three now. I think it’s three years. Well, it was three years. Now it’s two hours ago. I ran a 5k two hours ago. Just for fun, not for time. A charity race right in my own neighborhood — as in I passed my own house twice on the course. It was so cold my dog wouldn’t even come out to cheerbark. Gloves and hat cold. I wore the white flower, chosen for all my February runs, walks, and hikes.
The cold wind and threat of rain no doubt kept many registered participants away. I doubt there were 50 people at the start line. My neighbor and I hooked up at the halfway turnaround and ran the second half together. Of the runners we came in dead last together. I think one guy and his dog walked in behind us. Rain descended as soon as we crossed the finish line. With the windchill below freezing everyone scattered for shelter as Winter Sky cried her icy tears of joy. Proud of me She was, for having the most fun.
Meanwhile, 45 minutes away, The Chef was sitting in sunshine watching the college baseball season open. It didn’t last long though, the sunshine. As soon as the last out was called Winter Sky pelted them with all sleet. She does that sometimes, just to let the boys of summer know she’s not done yet. He came home without watching the second game.
While I was there I remembered what I loved about participating in races. Strangers being unnaturally nice just because you showed up. Little kids cheering for you just because it feels good to be nice. Old people in race bibs feeling like rock stars. Folks wrapped in blankets standing on their porches to watch, smiling at you when eye contact is made. Kids and parents running together. The fast folks who stick around to wait for the slow pokes and cheer as if we are really winning something. Traffic stops for you. Sometimes the people in cars are good sports about the delays and call out encouragement. Everyone on foot thanks the police.
I don’t care about my time. I don’t care about how I placed in my age group. I don’t care how good or bad I look in my finish line photos. I care that for a few hours on race day life is like a John Lennon song. It’s still a thing.