The last five minutes of the journey | Living with Gleigh

Last Sunday, I sat with my husband and watched the Daytona 500; it’s NASCAR’s Superbowl. But except for watching the Olympics, I’m not a sports fan. I feel fortunate my husband isn’t a football/baseball/basketball/soccer fan and the Daytona 500 is only once a year.

After both of us took care of his mother at different times earlier that week and helped our youngest daughter reorganize her room, I felt like I hadn’t spent any time with him. So I promised I’d leave him alone to watch the race if he would stay home instead of meeting friends somewhere; at least he’d physically be here for those hours.

He suggested I watch it with him. I thought, “Yeah, right,” in the utmost sarcastic way and told him he could yell results from the family room into the computer room as I sat scrapbooking.

He understands watching cars go around in left circles doesn’t really do anything for me in terms of entertainment value. I don’t understand the draw. I heard a joke a couple years ago: “How do you outrun an angry NASCAR mob? Turn right.” That sums up my interest in the Daytona 500. I do, on occasion, like a good figure eight race and demolition derby at Evergreen speedway in Monroe.

But as race morning dawned and my husband was cooking me my usual Sunday breakfast, I found myself in front of the Daytona’s preliminary show. I like the human interest part of the prelims: they interview and talk to many of the racers about their lives, families and careers. Also, the Zac Brown Band played a couple songs, and being a country music fan, I enjoyed seeing them.

I  understand one of the reasons my husband likes to watch the race with his friends is not because he wants to be away from his family, but because he wants to talk about what is going on as it’s happening. On the other hand, I have a philosophy about most sporting events that could potentially anger sports fans who spend many a Sunday watching: only the last five minutes are necessary.

Everything happens in the last five minutes: you find out the winner; if they have to do something crazy to win, it happens then; the worst crashes, most exciting plays and suspenseful moments are because of the stress of the last five minutes, whether it’s racing or football. If you missed a really good play earlier in the match/game/race, it will be replayed ten times over before the day ends.

But knowing my husband needed to talk about the race while it was on, I decided to try and see if I could write my column while watching the race with him. I didn’t really need to pay attention because my husband would provide the commentary, but could I focus enough to write?

Turns out I can. I wrote last week’s column and wrote this column all while watching the race. Besides a couple crashes, which were immediately replayed, it did turn out the last five minutes were the most important. The winner was pretty far ahead, but the second and third place racers were passed in the last lap and came in sixth and eighth. The whole lineup changed in not only the last five minutes, but the last minute.

Even so, for many things in life, it’s the journey that counts. For sports fans, it’s the journey of the whole: watching with friends, yelling at the TV, drinking beer, eating food only pulled out for sporting events, seeing the plays in real time. For me it did turn out to be the journey, the one where I hung out with my husband and watched a whole race while writing.

I’m still glad it’s only once a year; but maybe, if it was every weekend, I could write a complete novel.

Gretchen Leigh is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Covington. She is committed to watching the Daytona 500 with her husband next year. You can read her column every week on under the Lifestyles section.. You can also read more of her writing and her daily blog on her website livingwithgleigh.comor “like” Living with Gleigh on Facebook.

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