Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Why race?

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?


Sonia said...

I think that racing has nothing to do with placing and standing... well especially for us middle or back of the packers.... It is about giving the best out of us and pushing our limits, not sure you would have done that good on a small Sunday run day!! Of course that comes at a pricel...

Marlene said...

Great post!

I love racing because I feel like I'm part of something special... something big.

It's amazing how connected I can feel while standing amidst hundreds or even thousands of runners. Even if I'm running alone, I'm never really running "alone".

I also need races to motivate myself to push harder. Hubby and I were talking about this on the weekend... if we wanted to run for health reasons only, we could go out and run 30 minutes every day and that would be enough. Signing up for races encourages me to push harder - to run longer and faster!

Marci said...

I've been asked this question before. I race for so many reasons. The race is the reward for me, but its frustrating when people don't get that!

Anonymous said...

Nice post, I race because I can. When I think about where I was 10 years ago, sitting on the couch, non runner, I am amazed with what I have accomplished. It's nice to push myself to see how it turns out on that day. Every event I learn something new about myself.

Stacey (aka Anamae)