There’s a brand new piece of bling in my jewelry box and my earrings are trying to make friends, but the string of pearls won’t even make eye contact.
All silky ribbon and gilt-edged beauty, this little sparkler was coveted from afar, hard won, and brands me forever as a LEGEND.
“Just try it,” said my sister, “it’s fun!”
This is not the first time that I have been duped into doing an activity that was clearly designed to kill me, but cleverly disguised as a mentoring opportunity. It is, however, the first time I’ve been awarded a medal for it.
If you’ve never participated in a 5K, let me set the scene:
A 5K is a “small” run, usually connected to a “larger” run such as a half-marathon or 800 meter leopard chase. My sister, and many others, collects 5Ks like bubblegum wrappers. She is running one a month for a year and is halfway through her goal.
Every 5K has a “theme” with swag (party favors that include a water bottle, towel, T-shirt, and coupons for a free beard trim). Today’s run was themed “San Diego Legends” and it included major sports celebrity guests and Hank Bauer as MC.
You can run in costume to show your theme spirit, you can run with a team and wear matching comrade shirts, or you can show up in your finest athletic garb and rock those warm-up stretches like a pro. If your Olympic-level outfit makes you look like a giant asparagus, it will only be overlooked if you come in first place. Otherwise, film will be rolled.
And there are certain things that should never be photographed.
I decided that bull-riding easily qualifies as a warm-up activity, especially if combined with free-style on the swings and followed with a couple of fast slides into the sandbox.
Once you’re warmed up, you squeeze into the cattle chute with everyone else and wait for the gunshot. You check your shoelaces and your bib and tighten your cap a little. People are hopping up and down. There is just enough time to wonder whether you are about to make a terrible mistake when the gun goes off.
A lady in front of us, startled, dropped her keys, and had one nanosecond to scrabble for them.
We found our place in the herd and I put my head down and focussed on following my sister’s jacket. This is why I didn’t notice the double-wide stroller trying to pass me at the corner. Whining from the vehicle alerted me to a fiercely driving dad as I jumped to safety.
“I don’t want to run a race!” cried a toddler, “I want to stop!”
We plugged along after them, not sure who to commiserate with.
5Ks are held in various locations but you are not supposed to know exactly where it will take you until you are actually running, because surprises make your adrenaline pump faster.
We came to Nimitz Bridge, up and over and back we went, circled the USS Recruit, and zigzagged between views of San Diego Bay and Liberty Station Park. We went around a fallen seven-year-old with skinned knees, a napping residence-challenged person, and a lizard on the sidewalk doing push-ups.
The last sprint to the finish line was epic. We had a record to beat, and my sis was going to PR by less than a minute if we fumbled. Gasping for air on the other side, we realized that the timer was set to the gun, not to our bibs.
In 37 minutes and 45 seconds, we became San Diego Legends.
Placing our bling reverently around our necks, we circled the camp to take in our Hero’s Welcome: apples, bananas, water, Gatorade, free Fair tickets, and Healthy Veggie Chocolate Cake samples.
We were the only major sports celebrities there, as the advertised guests had never arrived. They dropped from Legends to Myths.
We looked around for the asparagus but she had left the party.
Hopefully, she wasn’t in the chocolate cake.
Lone Stars in her eyes, my sister insists that we could become San Antonio Legends next month.
I wonder if I could squeeze a Texas-sized bling in my box?
To see us on real, live TV, click here. The asparagus is ahead of us, of course. Veggies are overachievers. We follow, 30 seconds into the video.