Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Singing the no bling blues

I learned last week that the Bean There, Ran That Marathon doesn't offer a finisher's medal. Seriously? I understand why there are no medals for shorter races but - call me superficial - when I make the effort to train for a half or full marathon, I expect a medal.

The organizers say they've opted to forgo medals because the event is a fundraiser for the local hospital and they want to keep costs down. Which makes sense, I guess, except that they'd probably attract a lot more runners if they offered some bling. Like it or not, many runners are like me and prefer to run races that offer medals when they can.

The event does offer a pretty nice technical t-shirt but, as you can see, I've got plenty of those. In fact, I've got far too many. The largest drawer in my dresser is reserved for running gear and I haven't bought a new shirt in years. I just wear the ones I've collected at races - which makes me wonder why running stores bother to sell shirts at all.

Over the past year, I've done my best to get rid of stuff I no longer need, starting with surplus running gear. Typically I train just 3 or 4 times a week so, even taking seasons into account, I need far fewer shirts. The trouble is I find it difficult to part with any of them. Good or bad, the races I've run over the past 13 years are important markers along the road of my running career and I treasure the swag I brought home from them. Even the worst races (Johnny Miles in 2011, for instance) made me a better runner.

I feel the same way about finisher's medals - but even more so. Most years, I only earn 2 or 3 but they are affirmation that, against all odds, and despite thinking of myself as a non-athlete for much of my life, I am a runner - which is particularly important on days when I don't much feel like one. (Lately I've been wearing the finisher's necklace I earned running the Nike San Francisco Women's Marathon in 2011. As I struggle to get back into a more comfortable running groove, that bit of swag around my neck and this pic remind me of all the great reasons I run!)

San Francisco Marathon - gotta love a race the ends on the beach!

Last year, I participated in only a handful of events, none of which offered medals, so this year I'd like to add at least two to my collection - which is why I've finally decided to register for the half in Barrington next month. Since I'm not running especially well at the moment, I need motivation to keep training while I work with my doc to figure out what the trouble is. And I need a new bit of bling to remind me that my running career's a long way from over (I hope!). With a little luck, by the time fall rolls around, I'll feel more like myself and be able to run a stronger second half (maybe even a full) marathon.

What about you?  Do you pitch all those race shirts or wear them proudly? What about finisher's medals? Do they help keep you motivated, or do they just end up in the trash?

Happy running and writing friends!

1 comment:

  1. Bling goes onto the post with all the other bling. I have my eyes on a race that used to offer a very classy 42.2 in red enamel belt buckle, and if I knew they would offer that next year I would sign up. Shirts join the collection. I have a couple I wear most often, and some for show, but here you never know when you'll need to layer up, so I keep the tech shirts around. The good cotton shirts (mostly volunteer ones) I wear if they're nice. I think a volunteer shirt says just as much as finisher shirt.