“Big Dreams and Good Genes”
By Mary Marcia Brown
I can well remember the days when a race time was merely an assemblage of meaningless numbers nestled nearly to each other and blurted out passionately, by the participant who had received them, when a friend, family member, or colleague posed the obligatory, “So how’d you do in the race on Saturday?” I can recall being the sender of that very question and responding with an, “Oh, that’s great!” whether the revealed 5K time was 16 or 60 minutes, or whether the disclosed distance marathon time was 2:15 or six hours. The fact is, one truly cannot comprehend times relative to running until he or she has run. At least, I couldn’t.
Three years ago, right before my very first road race (an unforgettable 5K), I remember asking my dad about some of the races he had run. At 58, he had quite a number of race venues and varied distances to his credit for the 10 plus years that road races had crept into his yearly calendar of events. At that time, his personal record for a 5K road race was 17 minutes, his half- marathon best was 1.17, and he was still holding a 3:02 marathon mark that he was braced to bring below the three hour threshold. Mayhap, most interesting to me as a road running neophyte kneeling to lace my shoes for the novel event that morning were the stories surrounding his first 50 furlong road race endeavor.
It was a 10K event in the mountains of Hendersonville, NC. A novice, having no concept of ‘a good running time,’ my dad endeavored to finish the race running. He hurried up the hillocks and held a steady pace throughout the mist-filled remainder of the meandering mountainous course. Still having no true interpretation of race times, my dad soared through the final stretch with a stellar 39-minute finish; a time worthy enough of an acknowledged place finishing and award he received via mail a couple weeks later. My first race faltered to find my 27-minute finish worthy of an award. I did finish however, and I finished running, realizing my sub 30-minute goal.
The next road race my dad and I ran together was the Run for the Red in Fayetteville, NC, the following year. I rallied among the 5K runners while my dad’s attention was directed to the drove of drifters making their way to the 10K start. At the finish line, I spritely sprung up, jumping and cheering as my dad charged for the finish like a true champ. It was a day of delight as the dulcet of my name delivered over the speakers for third place age group winner was only the tantalizing appetizer for the NC Grand Master Champion entrée recognition my dad was awarded for his 36.41 finish.
The significance of the clock has certainly heightened over the past 36 months since my first road race. I run religiously…to ready myself for a run, to race in a run and to recover from a run. I too have accumulated a lengthy list of varied venues and race distances. With each one, I grow ever more cognizant of my time, my splits and my aspirations for a successive goal. I continue to be inspired and wowed by witnessing my dad’s rigorous training regimen and watching him run with apparent increased speed and fluidity. Perhaps my most ambitious goal is to one day be as good a runner as my dad is. Granted, those are pretty large running shoes to fill. But just maybe, by pairing my big dreams with good genes I might be prepared to one day accept the family baton.
Mary Marcia Brown is a Freelance Writer living in Pinehurst, NC. Her dad, Will, lives in Southern Pines, NC, where is a Certified Personal Trainer. Both Mary Marcia and Will remain athletically competitive running five to 10 road races each year.
Top photo: Mary Marcia Brown
Bottom photo: Will Morrell