Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A new "fun"tier

Still amped up on dopamine from my little Good Samaritan episode, I set out on a leisurely afternoon jog through my neighborhood. Although I had no intention of attempting another round of sprint intervals, I decided to take a route that passes by the high school track.

In the distance, I could see a crowd of people gathered in the stadium. As I got closer, I realized it was a group of high school track and field athletes. Track practice.

I stopped and peered through the chain link fence, overcome by the sort of wistful nostalgia Britney Spears might experience by looking at a wall calendar from the year 1999.

At that moment, I made the strangely painful realization that my days of reporting to afternoon practice were gone forever. I would never again be forced to complete crippling workouts that left me sore and fatigued for days. I would never again be expected to race so hard that I had to stagger to the bathroom and sit on the toilet with a puke bucket for half an hour. That made me sad.

But you know what? Britney (sort of) successfully revitalized her career, and I can too. You see, …Baby One More Time was the Britney equivalent of my high school and college racing career: the peak, the zenith, the I’ll-never-ever-be-that-good-again era of success.

Let’s be honest: Circus was no …Baby One More Time. But it was still a successful album, and you have to admit that Britney is still entertaining, whether she’s singing and dancing on stage or assaulting paparazzi with an umbrella. Circus is to Britney what 5K fun runs are to me. (I know, I know, it’s a terrible analogy, but I’ve been out of school awhile and my cognitive abilities have deteriorated substantially. Work with me.)

What fun runs lack in legitimate competition, they make up for in entertainment value and enjoyment. In fact, I might—scratch that, I will—even go so far as to say that fun runs are actually better than serious races. After reading the rest of this post, I think you’ll agree.

Why fun-runs are waaaaaaaaaayyyy cooler than school-sanctioned racing events: a post within a post (not to be confused with that dream within a dream Inception crap)

1.) Degree of pressure

When you and your teammates are getting reading to run a race that actually matters, everyone acts all serious as they silently change into their spikes, pin on their race numbers, and apply their Breathe Right nasal strips:

But at a fun run, the typical pre-race environment looks more like this:

(photo by Dawn-Pink Chick,

2.) Uniforms

As a member of a school-sponsored team, you must compete in a (yawn) team-issued uniform:

At a fun run, you are free to choose your own uniform:

(Photo by Stuart Chalmers,

3.) Expected effort

When you are competing for team points, scholarship money, or a spot on the varsity team, you are expected to look like this after you cross the line:

It is generally not encouraged to pass out, pee yourself, and/or vomit after finishing a fun run. That sort of behavior is frightening to young children and tends to put a damper on the festive mood:

Let’s take a look at a side-by-side photo comparison:

4.) Awards

If you win a race at an important meet (like conference or state), you’ll likely receive another boring medal or ribbon. (Woo. Hoo.):

But if you’re a top finisher at a fun run, you’ll probably get a supercool prize:

Like a trophy with a golden buffalo topper (a great conversation piece):

Or a beach glass sculpture thingy:

Or even a souvenir pint glass (perfect for drinking a much-deserved post-race bee—er, Gatorade):

On a completely unrelated note, today is my dad's birthday. Happy birthday, Dad!

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