How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Hyde Park Pilgrim Run

Today I entered my first 5K and knocked it out of the ball park.  First place, even.

Those of you who were with me might be questioning my sanity right now.  “First place?  In what, the line to the bathroom?”  (Not that the bathroom line was a bad place to be; they had some nice bathrooms, lemme tell you, so I’m not at all ashamed by being a member of that group.  The bathrooms weren’t Taj Mahal material (so few things rarely are), but they also weren’t the porcelain poop place of most frats, so while there may have been room for improvement, there was a lot further down they could fall.)

Ignore the bathrooms, you say, not important (not until you need one, sure); let’s talk about this first place business.  You don’t jog.  Ever.  You’ve never run in a 5K before, we’re not even sure you know how to spell it, and we read somewhere–and by “somewhere” we mean the race results sheet–you glided in at a meh of a 26.25 time.  Plus, you continue, and this is the important part, we saw a throng of people make it past the finish line before your questionable mug rounded the corner.

All true, I admit.  But those other people in the race?

They don’t count.

No, listen, hear me out:  All 5Ks yearn to be 10Ks, so there’s a upward class mobility thing going on.  You can protest that 5Ks aren’t socially conscious–or even conscious–but facts can’t be helped; 5Ks want to be 10Ks.  So, like other groups that want to jump the social divide, 5Ks expect a certain level of decorum, and if the participants don’t adhere to said level, they run afoul (or in the case of this run, afowl) of the unknown but very powerful “Cut loose, Turkey, you’re gone” rule.

Let’s start with the shoes.  If you’ve ever seen running shoes, you instantly know that all of the major shoe companies are locked in a deadly battle to see which one can design the ugliest shoe possible.  Perhaps it started off as a joke at Nike, a one-off, a “HAW HAW, I bet the boss will freak when he sees this neon green monstrosity.  We hear an intern is blind from staring at it too long.”  But it turned out the boss had gone to an art school, and so had a total loss of knack for good design, and the design was approved and people bought it (the thinking went, “Well, surely they made up for the neon green by making it even springier.  I’ll buy it!”), and, and…

Thermonuclearwar.  Reebok caught on, Brooks gave their color palette over to the blind, and Saucony… well, Saucony kept doing what they normally did and no one really noticed.

So, anyone who had uglier running shoes than mine were instantly disqualified.  It’s sad, but it had to happen.

Which left ten people and me.

Five of those guys were rail-thin with calves the size of Popeye’s forearms after a spinach fix.  It’s obvious they were trying too hard, and as every 5K knows, when you try too hard you can’t be cool and it’s no 10K for you.  So, they were out.

My competition was now five people.  Tough, true, but I could handle it.  I’d come in sixth, but sixth is respectable in some parts of the world.  But not this part, and it didn’t matter, because three more were instantly booted due to their silly costumes.  Turkey hats, pilgrim outfits, tutus, viking helmets… all awesome on Halloween, but for a socially paranoid 5K like this one, it’s obvious you can’t have too much fun. You have to take it more seriously, but not too serious otherwise you’re trying too hard.

So, two enemies left.  And me.

“Hey, you got pig stink in your eye!” I yelled at the closest.  And when he looked, I thew pig stink in his eye.

One person left.  And me.  I tried the pig stink.  Didn’t work.  She wouldn’t budge.  “Shoe’s untied,” I helpfully offered.  She pointed to her velcro and surged ahead.  Foiled!  “Velcro’s untied!” I yelled in desperation because we were closing in on the finish line.  Not even a hint she heard me.

Second place ain’t bad, I thought. I could live with second.  They get medals, right?  I could–but, no.  I’m not a quitter, I won’t settle for less than my rightfully earned gold.  I tried one more time.

“I’m telling your mom you picked your nose and ate your booger!”

She whipped around.  “I did NOT!” she cried because she was five and very sensitive about stuff like that.

I zoomed by.

And that’s how I won my first 5K.  The InstaPrincess hasn’t said anything yet–won’t even look at me– but I know she’s very proud.