Monthly Archives: July 2014

Medals for All!

It appears that the Everyone-Gets-A-Medal generation has made it to the racing circuit.

Admittedly, I have not been running or racing for long. My first race was in October 2012, and to date, I have participated in 27 races.

When I started racing (I use the term loosely as my pace is narrowly above that of speed walking. And some days, maybe not even that.), you received a cotton race tshirt for participation and a swag bag, most likely filled with coupons and nutrition bar samples.

That was it. Maybe a bottled water and a banana at the finish. And I was paying around $30 for registration.

Then there seemed to be an uprising surge of gimmick races. Suddenly, there were more color runs than I could count. I was running for beer; I was running as a vampire; I was running for pie; I was running through bubbles; I was running in an ugly sweater.

Most of these gimmicks were a great time, and I enjoyed checking them off my running bucket list. Yet with all the bells and whistles, the registration costs climbed past $50, $75, $100. And these runs are scarcely about the running. The hardcore runners weave themselves through packs of walkers striding infuriatingly six deep across the route (and zombie turtles like me).

With this tide of expensive pageantry also came the medals. All of a sudden, just recently during my forced prenatal running hiatus, there is a participation medal (“finisher medal”) for every other race I see.

What the hell is going on?

When I think medal, I think gold, silver, and bronze of the Olympics. I think of the first, second, and third place on a tiered podium. I think of winning. I don’t think of showing up and paying $65 to leisurely stroll 3.2 miles.

2012-olympic-medals

To me, participation medals at a race (by definition, competitive!) are the same as the participation trophies I received as a kid (and I believe is still common practice). Here is a symbol of winning given for just showing up, clustering around a soccer ball for five minutes at a time, and subsequently losing.

I understand the self-esteem psychology behind the gesture. Hell, I loved my trophies for the intramural sports (at which I was AWFUL). But where do the kids learn how to deal with the fact that other people will be better at them? Where do they learn how to lose? Where do they learn how to work and strive to earn the rewards of winning?

And why do we, as adults, need to purchase ourselves medals for just completing a run? It’s tantamount to giving ourselves a pat on the back with a $50 bill.

I am not immune to this fad. I have seven medals dangling from my runner board.

runningboard

My Tap n Run beer openers are especially sweet.

tapnrun

Of those seven medals, I feel I actually earned two:

  • I placed second in my age group in my first 5K. (Clearly, there was no one else in my age group running, but I did beat at least one girl.)
  • My (first) half marathon (because it was a fucking half marathon).

I can get behind participation/finisher medals for races that are particularly extra challenging. Garden of the Gods 10-miler, hell yeah, give those fuckers a medal. Cripple Creek Mine-to-Mine Challenge, damn right, I would have earned a medal. But three miles you can walk around a flat park in Denver? Come on!

However, I suppose the definitions of “challenge” and “winning” are relative. My first 5K was a huge accomplishment. But every random 5K ever? The medal loses all meaning.

I will continue to collect these expensive, meaningless trinkets from the races I run (hell, I paid for them). I will hang them from my board, and I will even enjoy them a little–guiltily. Yet the principle remains: if everyone gets a medal, no one is a winner.

That’s right, America; let’s not actually work and compete and risk losing. Have another cheeseburger and a gallon of soda at the finish. After all, you’ve clearly earned it.

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Bubble Run

The Bubble Run has been a pain in my ass since last year. It was supposed to be last July but was canceled due to flooding. The rescheduled it for this year but only offered a new registration, no refund. Now, I just happen to be eight and a half months pregnant and cut off from running. It was also very inconvenient to the schedule. But I paid my $50, so I was going.

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I was not looking forward to it going in. I didn’t want to get up early and drive to Denver (after being in Denver late the night before). I didn’t want to walk yet another race I wished I was running. I was just not feeling it.

Then we arrived earlier than expected, and the race started far later than scheduled. We had a toddler birthday party to attend back in the Springs, so we did not have much space in our schedule. Plus, I hate few things more than standing in the start chute for 45 minutes for no damn reason.

At one point, I think we discussed just saying fuck it and going home.

Finally, we got started though. It was a clusterfuck of people trying to walk and run on a very thin park sidewalk. It would have been irritating as hell to try and run through it. Or so I told myself. As we walked, Trisha and I listed out all the reasons it was better we weren’t running. There were walkers everywhere; it was hot. I think we were just distracting ourselves from our desire to be running instead.

As we walked, I was largely unimpressed. Maybe still bitter about the delayed start. Then we reached the first bubble bog. It was a pink, frothy monster, more bubbles than I ever expected.

The colored bubbles poured from a bucket above and created and deep pool between the chute. As I walked in, the bubbles rained down on me and engulfed me. It was nothing but pink ahead of me. I kept walking cautiously, waving my hand in front of me, searching for the break. I kept waiting to see the light on the other side, but it was just pink bubbles. I ran out of breath before I found the other side and had a microflashback of when I nearly drown when I started choking on the bubbles.

Finally, I did found the other side, and though I was choking and coughing on the soap a bit, it was fun. The bubbles were cool and wet and covered me in the pink color.

I felt refreshed as we walked on, though my throat was on fire. It was a long flat park, and we just ambled through. There were three more colored bubble bogs (blue, green, and yellow), though none were quite as immersive as the pink. None covered my face.

So ultimately, it was fun and worth it. I don’t know if it’s a gimmick I’ll do again, but it is a gimmick I’m glad I tried once.

Now I am officially retired from races until after I have my baby. I am volunteering at one next month but no more participating until post-partum. I’ll just start fresh in the fall.


A Month Without Sugar

I haven’t been posting here lately. I have been busy preparing for my upcoming book, which takes all of my free time, and I haven’t been running. So this blog has been left neglected and hibernating.

I have a particularly addictive personality. I don’t do anything a little, and I suck at moderation. It’s just how I am. This is not necessarily always unhealthy. It is apparently in how I run and how I write, both good outlets for borderline obsession.

Of course, it is unhealthy too. I have wrangled and outgrown most of my poor decisions; however, sugar became my latest substance addiction.

It started when I did my big diet in my 20s. I was at least 50 pounds overweight and got a personal trainer and started calorie counting and worked out at the behest of my doctor. I (shockingly) went hardcore with it, one might say addictive or obsessive, and lost the 50 pounds in about 6 months. I liked sweets fine when I was fat but preferred salt. However, once I cut the calories, I craved the sugar. My trainer said it was my body’s way of trying to supplement energy in a calorie deficit.

The diet passed, yet the sugar addiction only seemed to grow. I have always been an emotional eater, and I was no different with this new, increased love of sugar. No matter how healthy I ate otherwise, refined sugar was always too much of a part of my diet.

After failing to control my sugar addiction and reading about the chemical ways it is physically addicting and bla bla bla, I was talking about wanting to do a sugar detox. I wanted to cut myself off for a chunk of time so I could hopefully start eating it normally and in moderation. Little did I know that Michelle would hop on that bandwagon and want to swear off sugar for the whole month of June while I was pregnant.

But she wanted to do it, so I figured, fuck it, might as well. And we gave up sugar for the month of June.

The first two weeks were hell. I was angry and cranky. I wanted to cut someone’s throat for chocolate. I thought about it constantly. It felt like everyone around me was perpetually binging on the refined sugar I wanted.

Yet by the last week, it started to hurt less. I started to care less. I had my first sugar all lined up in my head (Kit Kat and Slurpee), but when the day came, I didn’t even want it. When I did finally eat it, it made me nauseous.

It was all very strange and wonderful. It may have just worked. I have started eating sugar again, groping at moderation. I can feel myself easily slipping back into habits, but so far, I have been able to control myself. I feel better. I don’t feel like I need it anymore, which was ultimately the whole goal.