I have a pile of medals from the end of the 2014 Spring season to get on my walls, and as I re-organize, I start to pull “bonus bling” down and hang it around my neck. These medals, given not for running a race – but a series of races or a challenge, do not represent actual miles run but the craziness of this journey I have chosen to have in my life.
Pretty soon, the weight is pulling on my neck and I take them off…. all 17 of them. Looking at each of them as I wrap them inside their ribbons I realize I am in a different part of my life as a runner. At the beginning, this bonus bling motivated me to run more. Earning the ROCK IDOL medal from the competitor group was a milestone in my running life – the first time I ran 10 half marathons in a year. A number at the time, which seemed huge to me. Now, I will not run more than one Rock-N-Roll race in a calendar year, because I do not want the bonus medal. I wonder if races would ever offer an option between getting the bonus bling or a different premium… maybe even reducing the fee a few dollars or donating it to the charity attached to the race.
The decision to put these medals away was not an easy one. Running has changed my life – the friendships I have made along the way and the strength I have discovered inside myself have carved out a life for me I cannot imagine existing without. Maybe they will be come ornaments on a running themed tree over the holidays. Maybe I will take them out only when I want to reminisce. I am not taking them down out of regret – I am taking them down to make room. My goals for this coming season are aggressive – and those shiny, sparkling badges of glory will need a place to hang.
When looking at races in the future, a bonus medal does not sway my decision to register, unless it is a challenge that is worthy of particular celebration. My Disney medals from the DOPEY CHALLENGE still hang on my wall – but doing a 5K, 10K, Half-Marathon and Marathon in four days still seems like a crazy undertaking to me…. although with some back-to-back fulls in my schedule this coming year – 48.6 miles over 4 days may not seem that tough any more down the road.
The next big milestone comes this summer – when I run my 100th half-marathon in California at the Napa to Sonoma Wine Country race. More important than that medal however, will be the fact I will be sharing the memory with some of my dearest friends I have made in this wonderful community of runners…. they have been the real bonus in my life.