It has been almost two full years since I committed to running (and writing about) 12 races in 12 months. This idea came to me after taking part in a New Year’s run with a friend of mine. Even though it has been two years, I’m still a back-of-the-pack runner. In fact, my pace could be likened to more of a fast walk. That’s perfectly fine with me. It’s the fact that I’m doing it that matters.
In the two years that I’ve been doing this, what has surprised me about running culture is that when a race is held, runners of all ages and abilities come out. When I look at the running scene, I notice that there are so many individuals out there who have committed to a goal similar to my own. Like me, they seek out races to keep accountable. I’ve met many of these people over the past couple of years and they are inspiring, to say the least. They let me know that I’m not alone as a weekend race warrior. For these new friends, I’m grateful.
Another thing that I’ve noticed about the race culture is that so many are in it just for the fun. These racers know how to have a good time, and they do it with their friends and family members from the babies in strollers to dedicated grand-parents pounding the pavement. Racing, I’ve come to realize, is a great way to spend time on a weekend with the people you love. Participating in these races with family members and friends has been one of the biggest gifts that I’ve gotten out of committing to this lifestyle. The memory-making opportunities provided through these races has been invaluable.
I didn’t know it at the time, but in working to achieve this goal of becoming a runner, I ended up carving out precious time for my family in our otherwise very hectic schedule. We have made getaways out of some of our planned runs which resulted in treasured weekends with new memories that will last forever. I’ve watched my son forge ahead through difficult races and gain confidence along the way. I’ve watched my daughter realize her passion and gift for long distance running which could have otherwise gone untapped. Crossing over the finish line, I’ve watched my husband, parents and family members cheer for us all with pride spread across their smiling faces.
I’ve gained confidence too. I set what seemed to be a massive goal and have impressed myself in not just committing but succeeding – no matter how challenging it has been along the way. That confidence translates to other areas of life. In the New Year, I start a new chapter at a new job which me challenge me further. I will also start to work on my Masters Degree. I know that running has played a key role in helping me move forward in these ways.
There are still races to be run and sights to be seen. I know that I can achieve better racing times with more training and hard work. I don’t plan on stopping either because as I get older, I know that it will just be harder to start back up again. My running has taken on a completely different look than when I started two years ago and it’s here to stay.
So I continue to press on. Taking it step by step, day by day, and race by race.