In the past few weeks, I’ve done something I’ve wanted to do for a while: Compile a spreadsheet listing every race I’ve ever run since high school.
I tend to favor small local 5Ks — no New York City Marathons for me — so it’s been fun trying to find my results from unknown races that happened a decade ago.
Many results are still out there, surprisingly, and I’ve been reminded of more than one race I’d totally forgotten. A few races seem to have vanished from history.
Using my old race T-shirts — some of which were converted into a quilt by my mom — as reminders, I thought I’d write down my memories of some of these races, before I forget all about them again.
Schofield School 5K, May 31, 1998, Wellesley, Mass.: Only my second competitive 5K since graduating from high school seven years before. I ran my best-ever post-HS 5K time, then didn’t race again for three years. Nice plan.
Marino Lookout Farm 5K, May 20, 2001, Natick, Mass.: Some co-workers got me back into running in the spring of 2001, and this was the first of seven 5Ks I ran that year. I ran an abysmal time and got beaten by an active NFL quarterback. (No prizes for guessing who it was.)
High Tech Classic 5K, Sept. 16, 2001, Waltham, Mass.: This race happened the weekend after the Sept. 11 attacks. My main memory is the race organizers playing “God Bless The U.S.A.” over the PA before the start of the race, and me feeling like a lousy unpatriotic jerk as I rocked back and forth impatiently and thought, “Are we gonna have to hear this treacly shit before every single American public event now?”
Marlborough Police 5K Police Chase, Marlboro, Mass., Oct. 7, 2001: This was a weird little race. Supposedly 110 people finished but I remember about one-quarter that many; and I know they measured the course wrong ’cause I finished impossibly fast. I wonder if anyone else even remembers this one.
Halloween Hustle 5K, Newton, Mass., Oct. 27, 2001: I ran this one pushing my year-old son in a jog-stroller. I did OK except for one point where his blanket fell out on the road and I had to duck back and get it. I think this was also the race where I ran into a high school friend, totally out of the blue; I was kind of honored she recognized me.
Turkey Classic 3.5-Mile Road Race, Framingham, Mass., Nov. 22, 2001: The race went OK. I mention it here mainly b/c I’m a little ashamed to admit I still have the long-sleeve T-shirt, 13 years later. It escaped being rounded up for the quilt and is still on my shelf. (In fairness to me, I always seem to have a whole bunch of T-shirts, and I tend to keep some in regular rotation, so it’s not impossible for one to land on the bottom of the stack and stay there … for 13 years.)
This was also the last race I ran in Massachusetts before moving to Pennsylvania the following spring. Perhaps someday I will return to Massachusetts, and I will sign up for some tiny local 5K in the fall, and I will toe the line wearing this shirt like a real townie.
A man can dream.
Jefferson Hospital Philadelphia Distance Run, Philadelphia, Pa., September 2003: My first, last and only half-marathon. It was somewhat disappointing — I didn’t really train hard enough, was seduced by a flat course into going out too fast, and did a bunch of walking. But, still, I got “half-marathon” off the bucket list.
Kutztown Fools’ Run, Kutztown, Pa., March 31, 2007: A lovely 5K out in farm country; I would do it again except Kutztown’s an hour from my house. The post-race spread for this one included bagels, oranges, bananas … and pots of apparently homemade chicken noodle soup, which is just about the Berks Countiest thing ever.
Families First 5K, Wind Gap, Pa., Oct. 10, 2009: Three memories of this race:
1. I died hard.
2. This was the first race where I ever got a T-shirt in one of those fancy sweat-wicking fabrics, rather than cotton.
3. Never run a race in a place with “Wind” in the name.
Giving Thanks 5K, Vienna, Va., Nov. 24, 2011: Ran this one while visiting the in-laws for Thanksgiving. You could dedicate your race to a fallen or wounded soldier, and on the spur of the moment, I decided to run in honor of my great-uncle, who died in World War II. My performance did not honor his memory.
Allentown St. Pat’s 5K, Allentown, Pa., March 18, 2012: I’ve run this one every year since 2011; it’s the only race I’ve ever formed that kind of bond with. It’s a fun race, and a challenging race, and sometimes a cold race, and every year my time gets a little better. Plus, the race director is a nice guy.
In 2011, I was beaten in the St. Pat’s 5K by a sitting U.S. Congressman. In 2012, I beat him. I do not think the Congressman has been back since. Perhaps losing to me was the ultimate indignity.
Concordia Lutheran Academy Pheasant 5K, Slatington, Pa., April 20, 2013: Another one of those great little races I tend to sign up for. Sixty-one people finished the 2013 race and probably one-third of them were walking. I like the color of this shirt, and also the menacing, vaguely fungool!-ish gesture the pheasant is making.
Centennial School 5K, Bethlehem, Pa., May 2014: Sixty people took part in this one; I finished ninth. Contrary to the image on the shirt, the race did not end in a furious sprint between Zooey Deschanel, G. Gordon Liddy, and Yertle the Turtle.
Forever Young 5K, Seneca Falls, N.Y., Oct. 11, 2014: The most recent 5K I have run. There are currently no others on my dance card, though I might like to get one in on Thanksgiving if time allows. This race honors a middle-schooler who died of some uncommon illness.
While the cause is noble, I don’t love the design of the T-shirt. I suspect this one will land at the bottom of the pile. Maybe I will find it again in a decade and be reminded of a flat, fast course on a crisp fall morning in central New York.