As I sit here, my race medals are in a heap at the side of my desk, and there are race bibs scattered randomly throughout the house. Race junk (pamphlets, flyers, magazines) are tossed directly into the recycle bin, and I have about 15 Foot Doctor magnets on my fridge. Do I really need any more?
I ran well this past weekend and posted a good time by my own standards. However, I placed 223rd out of 568 runners. Did I ever have any chance of winning? Top ten, even? No. And I knew that. What about the distance? I run 10k every week. Why pay money to do it?
It was actually my father-in-law who asked me these questions when I told him that I had signed up for yet another race. He used to tell me that he wanted to run a half marathon, so I looked for races to suggest to him. However, he ended up running 21k one morning and said, "that's it. I ran the distance. I don't need to sign up for a race."
So why do I race? I don't seem to keep my medals or race bibs like prized possessions. Nor will I ever come close to winning any event...and if I did, it would be because nobody else showed up that day!
- I know that when I have a race bib on and am running with hundreds or thousands of people, I will push myself harder than I ever could in a training run. Case in point last weekend. I never run a sub-5:30/km pace in training, espcially not for 54 minutes. My normal, comfortable running pace is about 7:00/km.
- There is something special about the comradery of a race. Being out there with all of those like-minded insane people is fun. People are generally friendly, supportive, cheery. And so are the friends and family members cheering us on.
- It is funny when I hobble into work the next morning and my co-workers ask "how was your race?" rather than "what happened to you?" They know.
- I might not think much of the medals, but I love the shirts. I never have to buy running shirts. Wonder if some races will start giving out shorts or tights in the future? I could use a few pairs...
- It's just fun. Some people might like to spend money on a round of golf (like my hubby), or going to a show. Running/training are means to maintain my fitness and sanity, but racing is my hobby. And yes, I may have to pay race entry fees and wake up early on Sunday mornings, but don't most hobbies cost time and money?
So, why do you race?