Why I Run Races

I can’t believe there are only two more months in the year 2010. But I figured now would be a good time to write about my year in running races. I’ve accomplished much more this year than I’d ever thought possible.

It was probably earlier in the year, maybe around March or April, where I’d realized I had a desire to run a half marathon. I don’t remember what exactly prompted me, but I think a large part of it was due to my discovery of the Healthy Living Blog community. After reading numerous food and fitness blogs, some of which talked about running races, which were written by women like myself, I was completely inspired to push myself farther and actually go for the half marathon distance. After months of training and running 5Ks, 10Ks, and after finishing a 15K, I knew I could reach my ultimate goal, and on October 10, 2010 I ran my first 13.1 miles, and despite some foot pain, had the time of my life.

I remember running four miles back in April when I was training for my first race of 2010, the Workforce Team Challenge, a 3.5 mile race. Since then, I’ve completed 11 races, with (hopefully) two more to go this month! And I’ve also realized that racing is my favorite part about running. Why run if you don’t have a goal in mind? Why run if you don’t want to run further or faster? When I don’t have a running goal, I feel aimless. I need the feeling of organization, of having a schedule of training runs and long runs, and actually looking forward to them.

My top five favorite things about running races

5. The Free Stuff

Who doesn’t love getting free stuff? Most races give away a free race t-shirt with your entry fee.  I love wearing my race t-shirts to the gym. I love showing off which races I’ve run! Some other free things I’ve gotten: a pint glass (Boilermaker), and a winter hat (Squirrelly Six), and a warrior helmet (Warrior Dash). Oh yeah, and who doesn’t like medals? A few of the races I’ve ran have even given the finishers a nice medal after we cross the finish line. I love that.

4. Seeing My Progress

One of my absolute favorite things about running is to physically feel and see my progress! When I started logging more miles, my pace got faster. When I first kept track of my pace for my long runs, I was running at an 11:30/mile pace. Three months later, my long run pace was 9:12. That is a big difference! And I was hardly even trying! I got faster naturally. And when you get faster, you get better race times! I’m constantly pushing to beat my last Personal Record (PR). I know I won’t PR every race, but having a goal in mind and having something to strive for during the race is awesome. And then accomplishing that goal is even better.

my 10K PR

3. The Runner’s High

When I first started running in 2008, I was pretty sure the runner’s high didn’t exist. I felt out of breath and I pretty much felt like crap during my runs, praying for the end. But eventually, that feeling went away. The first time I felt amazing while running was during my first 5K. I felt like I could run forever. And I actually wanted to keep going because I was having so much fun!!! Now, the runner’s high occurs often for me, especially during races, and I love that! 😀 I remember thinking during my first trail raceI don’t want this race to end!”, and I never would have thought that when I first started running.

2. A Sense of Community

I think the running community is one of the most supportive and friendly communities I’ve been a part of. I’ve made good friends through running, and I’ve talked to nice, encouraging people while waiting at the starting line. Lining up for a race with 13,000  other runners about to tackle 9.3 miles suddenly makes me feel less alone. When family members and other non-runners ask me “why on earth would you want to run that far?” I feel like the odd one out, like maybe I really am crazy! But when I’m running alongside others who have the same goals and aspirations, I don’t feel alone anymore! I feel like I’m not the only crazy person who actually wants to run 9.3 miles. And that’s such a great feeling.

The Starting Line at the Boilermaker

1. Crossing the Finish Line

Sometimes I have trouble putting into words the feeling I get when I’m running a race and the finish line is in sight. But I’m going to try my best to describe it! If you have never ran a race, you should sign up for one, just so you can say you crossed the finish line. Nothing else can compare to the adrenaline rush you get when you see and  hear the crowd cheering the racers on. And that last burst of energy you get to push yourself faster just so you can finish strong. Its an amazing feeling, and I encourage each and every one one of you who has been on the fence about signing up for your first race, or considering that race you think you won’t be able to do…DO IT!  You won’t regret the feeling when you finish.

(source)

I know lots of you who run races know what I’m talking about! When I asked on twitter what your favorite thing about running races was, I got a few responses, all of which are similar to mine:

So, if you haven’t signed up for your race yet, DO IT! It will be incredible. And beware: it is addicting.  😉 Happy running.

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10 comments

  1. I really want to get into running. My brother has been a runner for years and every Thanksgiving when I was younger he always tried to get me to do the turkey trot with him. I did it once and wussed out from then on. I’m not going home for Thanksgiving this year but I definitely want to a run a race with him someday!

  2. I just started running races in September and I’m so hooked! I already have my race calendar for the entire next year planned out hehe!

  3. I love races! I’ve only done 3 but am completely hooked. Can’t wait for the Turkey Trot!! I agree with what you said about running feeling aimless if you don’t have a race to train for. I’ve been in that mode for the past month or so and haven’t run nearly as far or as often as I would have if I’d been training. I’m hoping to sign up for significantly more races next year so I have a “reason” to run more consistently.

  4. Races are so addictive and never get tired of that feeling at the start and finish line. Very nice recap of what you’ve done so far – I hope you have many, many races in your future!

  5. I couldn’t have said it better. If I didn’t have races on my schedule, I probably wouldn’t run.

    I’ve run 17 5k races so far this year & have several more planned.

    Next goal, buy a Gramin GPS and run a longer race – 10K or Half marathon.

    Great photos!

  6. I couldn’t agree with you more, Jen. Running has become such an important part of my life and I’m amazed by what I get out of it.

    We share the same top 3 reasons for running races but mine are in slightly different order:

    1. Sense of Community
    2. Runner’s High
    3. Crossing The Finish Line

    …and throw in that I’m looking to get just one good race picture where I don’t look intensely scary. I’m quite the focused woman when I’m on the go I guess. 🙂

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