Gender position: 45/135, Age Group position: 7/19
Medal: No, but we did get a t-shirt
I’d like to say straight away that I am still not acclimatized to Houston’s heat and humidity issues. And I ran this 5k dressed as a Native American warrior chief because the website ‘encouraged’ fancy dress, and specified there would be a costume contest after the race.
I had signed myself and my unsuspecting mother up for this race as a ‘bonding’ experiencing during my visit. Whilst not entirely impressed, especially given the 8am start, she did not outright refuse, nor did she completely hate the idea of dressing up (though recycling an old 80’s chick costume was, in my opinion, just lazy).
This was a community event, and there were several families there. The local supermarket, H.E.B., provided fresh bananas, water, and coffee to everyone there. Loads of parents made baked goods to sell. There was music. It was sunny. A cool front had hit Houston (still skin melting temperatures for someone used to running in Scotland). My mother and I arrived with about 10 minutes to spare, but most of that was used up by everyone moving to the revised start line (2 guys wanted to break a 15 minute 5k, and so they needed it to be an accurate distance. Spoiler: they demolished the race).
This was a no-frills start, and a horn went off out of nowhere, signaling the start. So we were off! I didn’t bother taking music with me as it was just a local 5k, but I immediately regretted this decision when I realized that I would be listening to my beaded necklace smash against my chest every time a foot hit the ground until I was done. At least it was only a 5k.
The route was through residential streets, and plenty of the locals were out cheering on the runners. I had lots of ‘Come on Chief’ and several ululations from the supporters, and that helped me soldier on even though my faux leather fringed calf guards were practically sodden with my sweat. I managed to keep a steady, but average, pace throughout, and I had a mini-kick at the end, though nothing spectacular.
After grabbing a bottle of water, I found a spot by the finish and cheered on fellow runners, but I was definitely more enthusiastic for the 5% of people who were also in fancy dress. Eventually my mother came walking towards the end. I was shouting for her to “Finish Strong, don’t walk!” but she had apparently hurt her calf and didn’t want to jeopardize her important tennis match on the Monday. She walked to the end.
She came through in just over 30 minutes, but for some reason her chip didn’t work, so she isn’t listed in the results – which is a bit of a bummer for her first official 5k. There was a girl dressed as a cat who she said she was in front of the whole time, so we looked up her time (after stalking her to take a note of her number) to give us a rough idea of what time my mom could have finished in. It turns out if she kept running she’d have won the prize for the fastest female coffin dodger!
Speaking of missing out on prizes that should have been yours, the costume contest was bullshit. I had scoped out my competition throughout the run, and during the kid’s fun run afterwards, and I knew I was pretty much the only decent female contender. Once the contest started, I was waiting in the adult section along with Captain Underpants (a dude in tighty whities and a cape), a dude dressed as Snow White, and a dude in a full gorilla costume. We looked at each other and all agreed that two of us were going home winners.
They had the kid’s costume contest first. We all clapped like we cared when Princess Fiona and a whoopie cushion paraded before the judges. Next category was ‘best couple/group’, so the four of us hung back. But then we overheard the judge award a prize to best couple, then best female group, then best male group. And then he moved on to the running awards. What the actual fuck, man? The gorilla took his mask off and looked super pissed. The guy in his underwear looked at us and asked, “Is that it?”. We had all run a 5k and hung about a children’s event to win a costume contest, and we were totally blown off. Even my mother exclaimed, “What? This is bullshit!”. I should mention that competitiveness runs in the family. Monopoly games can become violent.
The four of us, jaded and deflated, decided we weren’t hanging around for ‘If you’re happy and you know it’. I still had the Mighty Mud Dash to get ready for, and I’m certain the three men had better things to do on a sunny Saturday, so off we went.
It’s Tuesday and I’m still bitter.