By summer 1996, I had been doing a little bit more running than walking. I recovered from the 5K race and the 12K non-race, and was even doing some runs with friends. One of my friends from Early Music Ensemble (a 10-16 person early classical music group I sang with), Kevin, did many runs with me. We had even made a pact to run a marathon by age 30, and complete an Ironman triathlon by age 40 (in 1996, he was 23 and I was 25).
Kevin suggested that we do the Chevy’s to Chevy’s 5K in September as our first “official” 5K. In terms of my entire running career, it would be maybe my 9th 5K, but the first that I would actually run for time (and I was assured that it wasn’t really 4K). The course was along the Sacramento River and started and ended at Chevy’s Mexican Restaurant in that area. (The race name referred to the 12K course which began at a Chevy’s in downtown Sacramento, and ended at the river location.)
Kevin and I started out together, I surged ahead, and then Kevin burst by me in the last 1/2 mile. This would become a tradition at races we ran. Also part of the tradition was that Kevin would be in the top 3 in his age category (M20-24), and I would be last or near last in my age category (M25-29). My theory on why this always happened was that the really good runners (Olympic caliber) were not competing in local road races until their careers began to wind down… and that didn’t happen until after age 25.
Somewhere I still have the picture they snapped at the end of the race, but I think I finally tossed the sombrero they gave us at the finish line. I finished in 28:30, which is a little faster than 9:30/mile, which is not bad for someone who started running on his own only 4 months prior.