Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Celebrating the journey


Running a big race is cause for celebration. As a runner, you've trained for the big day and the race is the culmination of all that training. Crossing that finish line is the start of the celebration! How do you celebrate after training for and running a goal race? Or any race, for that matter?

After I ran Chicago, I posted about recovery. In fact, I likened this post-marathon cycle to a hangover. When I woke up the day after the race, I felt as if I had partied all night long. In a sense, a marathon is like a party. There are a lot of people along the race course and the atmosphere is loud and lively! Most races start early in the morning, but I don't think there is any tailgating prior to the main event. As far as I'm aware, I don't think there's a lot of drinking along the course.

I've been to races where there's a lot of partying after the race. Some races advertise themselves as the "best post race party" to attract potential runners. That's not what I'm looking for in a race. Most of the time, those races are 5ks--mostly novelty races that attract more casual runners--it's just not fun for me. I don't want to run a race where people sign up because of the post-race party. I'm old and cranky like that. It kind of reminds me of New Year's Eve aka amateur hour.  In the past, I've run races where the race is just part of the party. The last time I ran the Shamrock Shuffle was about 20 years ago, and I said never again after seeing so many drunk runners, hungover runners, and runners vomiting on the race course. I'm pretty sure that wasn't happening up front with the elites! But in the middle and back of the pack, it was a different story.


Idk. Maybe that doesn't happen with that race anymore?

The Chicago marathon has a great post race party, but it gets really crowded. There's free beer for the runners at the finish line, Goose Island 312 or IPA, and runners also get coupons for free beer at the party. It's always fun to hang out with friends and celebrate after a race! One year I was at the CARA 10 miler, which I ran by myself. I was in the beer corral, drinking alone my Lagunitas IPA, and some 21-year-old guys started talking to me. I probably reminded them of their mom, right? Anyways, people kept offering us their unused beer coupons. I could have spent the whole day with them! Not really, but aren't runners all just friends we haven't met yet? I won't lie, I was enjoying myself.

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Clearly, I'm not above having a post-race beer or two to celebrate my achievement! Drinking at 9:30 am after running 10 miles? 13.1 miles? 26.2? Been there, done that. Doesn't faze me! Most big races offer beer at the finish line, no matter what time of day it is. Actually, most of the races I ran this year had beer at the finish line. Did I partake every time? No, I did not. And I'll tell you why.

I'm a bit of a beer snob. I wrote a blog post earlier this year about beers that I like to have after a race or a long run. It's funny how particular runners are about their beer. And I bet if you asked, most of them would turn their noses up at a Michelob Ultra or Miller 64. Swill. These beers market themselves to athletes--I see advertisements for them in my running magazines all the time. Heck, one of them had Lance Armstrong as a spokesperson prior to epogate! Maybe Lance knew something about these beers that I don't. Anyways, I'm not a big drinker, and if I'm going to celebrate after a race with a beer, I want it to be worth my while. Not with a "pretend beer". Pass me the Gatorade.

www.celebrityendorsementads.com 2010
Some people like to drink wine after a race. I've run races where they've served wine at the finish line. I usually feel a little bit nauseous after a long distance run or race, and wine just doesn't appeal to me. Which is interesting, since wine is my drink of choice with dinner! But after a long, grueling run, I feel like beer settles my stomach.

Speaking of dinner, after my last 2 Chicago marathons, I celebrated with a big steak dinner and a nice Cabernet. During marathon training, I avoided beef completely. Beef just doesn't agree with me. I don't enjoy having emergency potty stops on the run. TMI, I know. But once I'm done training and racing, I look forward to occasionally indulging in beef again. While I'm happy to be done with training, my husband is celebrating as well--living with a marathoner in training is tough on the spouse. My non-running husband also looks forward to a little more variety in our meals. I could eat chicken breast every day, but apparently I'm alone in that. So many chicken recipes, so little time...

I talk a lot about celebrating but on the other hand, sometimes a post-race celebration doesn't happen. My first Chicago marathon went so badly, and I felt so awful, both mentally and physically, that the last thing I wanted to do was celebrate. I was so disappointed in myself. When I look back on that experience, I want to kick myself. First world problem, right? I should have thrown myself a pity party.

Boo hoo, I ran a bad marathon.

Just look at that sentence again. Take out the word bad, and yep, I ran a marathon.

I should have celebrated no matter what the outcome. If I learned nothing else--but I did learn a lot of other things from that experience--it's that crossing a finish line is celebration-worthy. No matter what the finish time. Being able to run is a privilege. Yes, sometimes the outcome doesn't meet expectations, but bottom line, it's a journey which comes down to one day. Instead of focusing on the outcome, we should celebrate the process. No matter what the distance, no matter what the end result, the race is a celebration of all your training.


And as a loyal Cubs fan, I have to remind you: There's always next year!

So let's get the party started!

How do you celebrate after a race? Beer? Wine? Milk? Have you ever had a bad race and didn't celebrate? 

Don't forget to check out my giveaway here.

I'm linking up with Marcia, Erika, and Patti for Tuesdays on the Run. I can't wait to read all the other posts to see how other runners celebrate!



71 comments :

  1. Chips seem to be my celebration of choice, lol. I seem to go to town on them. I'm not a big celebrate RIGHT THEN type of person. I usually wait until later. And you better believe that I get my fun drink on. I don't discriminate. I'm not a big hang around-er, either, though I totally did after the marathon this year. But I'm also often by myself. If I'm with other people, well then, let's hang out!

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    1. Or you can just hang out and meet young friends like I did! :P

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  2. I've noticed that I've been celebrating with a post-race beer a lot more this year, but thats only because its available at the end of the race, lol.

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    1. As long as it's a quality beer, I don't think having beer at the finish line is a bad thing at all!!!!

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  3. I'm usually tired, I'm not hungry & I don't drink. Usually my husband is tired too (apparently my running 13.1 is very hard on him).

    My worst half was the one where I had to walk the last 3 miles due to IT pain. We drove on to the cape, where we'd rented a house, and my husband went & got a sundae (my favorite post race treat if it's not cold), but I just laid on the couch with Chester because you had to walk there and I couldn't walk. :(

    I think I had to go to dinner by myself in CT because my husband wasn't feeling well, and that was a good race!

    OTOH, I've also forced him to stop in a place he didn't want to because I'd read about an awesome place for pierogis. OMG, the pb chocolate ones were soooooo good . . .

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    1. And that's why I don't bring my husband along to races anymore. You'd think he ran the thing with me...

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  4. I don't really celebrate unless I'm away on a racecation. In that case there are cupcakes and roller coasters and any number of things.
    When I finished Chi in 07 I wasn't even sure it was a finish since the race had been cancelled. But the finish line clock was on and they put a medal on my neck....

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    1. I would totally have celebrated that steambath!!!! How many people actually finished that one?

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  5. I celebrate by just eating/drinking whatever feels good in my belly. If it is a long, hard race, I am usually not hungry for a little while after. But once the hunger is there, there's no stopping it! On Sunday I had Wendy's after my race! It was soooo good!

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    1. Sometimes you just got to indulge! Heck, after running that far, a hamburger isn't going to kill you...

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  6. I'm usually on my own or with my (non running) boyfriend at races, so I don't usually stick around very long afterwards. I'd rather go home, take a shower, put on something comfy and THEN have a beer. If I'm at a race with my running friends then I will stick around a bit after. After Steamtown I just wanted to walk around and get away from the crowds after the finish.

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    1. I get that--sometimes you just want to go home. After Chicago this year, I didn't go to the post-race party. I sat by myself and drank my beer; then I caught up with my son and his girlfriend. That race is so loud and so big, it's nice to have a little solitude after.

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  7. Swill. What an onomatopoetic word. It always makes me laugh, if not shudder.

    There's another word for Michelob Ultra. Water. (On a side note, we've boycotted all Michelob products since they pulled their sponsorship of "Michelob Presents Night Music" in the early nineties. That really ticked us off).

    The few races I've run have all been 5Ks with no celebrations afterward. I simply rejoin my husband and went home. The only time I've "partied" was after my first. I had a number of family and friends come to support me when I and my friend Sharon ran at the La Salle Academy track (I work there). I threw my own party at home afterwards with my family and those who came to cheer. I thought that was going to be a "one and done" 5K. I was wrong.

    All my 10Ks and two ten mile runs have been alone, as will my half marathon be this weekend. Due to unfortunate timing, my better half will be working, no choice, but if (when!) all goes well I will finish the big event at my son and his girlfriend's home. David and Rhiannon will give me a hug and take a few photos and then I'll walk home, a few minutes away. I'll text the photos to Tony. <3 I will celebrate big time in my heart and soul. It is one of the biggest, if not THE biggest, challenges of my life.
    Maybe I'll have a beer.

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    1. You have to celebrate this! What a huge accomplishment for you!

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  8. racecation = celebration with booze. I'm not too picky. ;)

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  9. While I'm not against post-race partying, it's not for me. After a marathon it takes me a few hours to even want food because my stomach is usually upset. Even a short race, if I've expended a lot of effort, can trigger a headache, so I rarely imbibe. Alcohol and headaches don't go together.

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    1. I won't lie, my stomach was really not happy this year. But the beer settled it nicely. Who knew?

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  10. I am still definitely in the crossing the finish line is enough to celebrate category..... if I'm having a bad run and I still finish and don't give up, that is even a bigger accomplishment finishing a race in which I feel great and am coasting through....

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    1. Absolutely!!! Finishing is always winning.

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  11. I love being able to celebrate a big race with a nice celebratory dinner (if I'm not too tired and am feeling up to it). I'm not usually for drinking beer or wine immediately following the race, but once I've showered and relaxed (and maybe taken a nap), bring on the celebratory drink or two!

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  12. I like wine, chicken wings, and sour patch kids. It my post-race trifecta!

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    1. LOL! I love hearing what other runners do after a race!

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  13. I usually celebrate EVERY finish line - usually at Panera :)
    I'm not a beer or wine drinker - just give me some iced coffee :)
    Those gif's all are spot on funny!

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  14. I've noticed that novelty races emphasize the "after party"...it's not really my thing either, but I do appreciate a GOOD beer - no Michelob for me! Zooma Annapolis had LOTS of wine after the race and that was great! I like to have a big boozy brunch after my races where I can eat all the food. Ew, I would not want to be at a race full of drunk people, no fun.

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    1. I like the idea of a boozy brunch with my friends! Last summer I spectated at the end of an all night ultra that my friends ran. We went out to breakfast after. No booze, but it was fun to eat all the food!

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  15. I too can't stomach much after a long distance run so don't often stick around for any sort of party. I want get my shoes, socks, and sweaty clothes of ASAP. I ran the Shamrock Shuffle a couple years ago and had a blast...didn't see any drunk runners/vomiting etc? EWWWWW!

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    1. l'm actually considering giving the SS a revisit!

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  16. I prefer chocolate milk after a race but will have a beer at times too. I was so thrilled after the Dam to Dam half marathon back in May and they actually had chocolate milk :)

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  17. I usually do not celebrate with beer after races since it's still so early when I finish. I wait until later in the day after I'm well hydrated to celebrate. I never drink chocolate milk. I don't think my stomach could handle that. It just feels so heavy to me after a race.

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  18. That is hysterical! I am a beer snob too. I would rather save my calories for "good" beer!

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  19. Chocolate milk, pizza, carbs, carbs, ice cream. Even after a bad. In fact, I need food more after a bad race.

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  20. I do celebrate, heck I just finished a freaking race! That right there is reason to celebrate. My celebrations usually involve food, celebrating the fact that I can eat anything I want, lol. I'm not a beer drinker but I love chocolate milk right afterwards. Give me just a little bit of time and I can eat like a horse. Give me a little bit more time and drinks on the house! ;)

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    1. From your posts, I can imagine that you like to have a great time after a race!! One day we'll do one together!

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  21. I'm not a runner, but I think the idea of celebrating the end of a race with a beer is pretty fun. I'm a bit of a beer snob too though and I'd definitely pass on crap beer. I think it's fun that people want to celebrate their race and I don't mind a party-like atmosphere, especially if it gets more people interested in exercise in general, but barfing in public because you drank too much at a fitness event is really, really gross.

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    1. I would expect boorish behavior at a shorter race, like a 5k--after a half or a full marathon, you are just wrecked already!

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  22. Our local 5ks and 10ks do NOT serve beer afterward. Many of them are hosted by churches (bible belt). It has to be a much larger event for beer. It's so early in the morning, I'd rather have my coffee anyway and save the margaritas for later. It's typical for us to go for Mexican food on the night of a morning half marathon. Trust me, nobody in my family needs their arm twisted to do this.

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    1. I like your plan. Mexican sounds great!

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  23. I'm not a huge post-race party fan. I tried to enjoy the post race party after a Spartan Race, but ended up only have 3 sips of the beer before tossing it. After a long race, I'd rather have some good recovery food than a beer that will just dehydrate me more. My post race party would be me foam rolling while sipping a recovery smoothie, taking a nice long shower and THEN go out to a good meal with a drink (or three) :).

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    1. I like your post race party idea! I'm not great about recovery that day...I usually end up sore because of it!

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  24. Connie, what half are you doing this weekend? I take it that it's your first. Good for you! You will be on top of the world when you finish!

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  25. I love a beer after any race that offers it. I definitely prefer good beer but am so pathetic that I'll take anything-even the swill. lol The beer at the end is sometimes the one thing that keeps me going and going faster.

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    1. Oh, yes, the beer is a definite motivator for me! Good beer, that is!

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  26. I love beer after a race, but in the same scenario as you: not an amateur hour post-race party that draws more of a crowd than the race, and certainly not crappy light beer. My husband and I usually find a local brewery to try right after the race, because then it's a reward for me for racing and him for spectating/sherpaing. Plus, a post-race burger and fries is always good!
    Also, my husband loves the meal variety of non-marathoning training as well - it means more beef and cheese in our meals!

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    1. My husband is always happy to indulge my need for a post race beer!

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  27. The Michelob Ultra marketers want to associate their name to fitness events - for their image. Real athletes need/crave carbs and calories and lots of them, especially after an endurance event. The last thing we want is watery beer.

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    1. I want a beer loaded with carbs after an endurance run!

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  28. I see Michelob Ultra at the finish of lots of races and it does nothing for me. I'm with you - I'm good with beer in the morning after a race so long as it is GOOD beer. :)

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    1. After running a half or a full, I don't care what time it is, bring on the beer!

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  29. I usually don't want to deal with crowds after a race, but just last year I discovered the joys of a good post-race beer -- but it does have to be a good one. And one is plenty for me. Otherwise I like to stop at Starbucks on the way home.

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    1. It has to be a good beer. Otherwise, forget it!

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  30. Ha ha the last thing I want to do is "party" after a marathon! My bed is calling!

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  31. Haha...my hubby has run the Chicago marathon twice and he has never understood the beer thing afterward. Honestly, I can't drink after running a 5K, let alone a marathon. It's on later that night though!

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    1. Oh gosh, it tastes like the best beer ever after that distance! Don't ask me why!

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  32. You know I'm a beer snob, so I don't drink the beer at the end of the race often. But if I can get a good beer? Yeah, I'll drink that baby at 8am, thank you very much.

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    1. It's really like bread, so I think it's perfect for breakfast!

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  33. I am a Cubs fan too! My husband grew up in Southern Illinois so he likes those Cardinals - I don't hold it against him too much. I love a beer after a race...part of the appeal of cyclocross racing this time of the season...a good party scene once you get the suffering on a bike out of the way!

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  34. I think a cold beer after a race sounds like the perfect celebration. I agree with you, though, that a cheaper beer doesn't seem amazing if you're used to drinking craft beers. I don't think I could drink wine after a race, either. I feel like that might not end well :)

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    1. Haha! Yep, that's how I feel about wine and running...

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  35. I love to bust open a bottle of bubbly when I get home. I'm not really a fan of beer, but there is something about an ice cold beer after a run, even if it's a bad one, lol. Must be something about the carbonation?

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    1. Idk--I always chalk it up to the carbs!

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