Friday, February 7, 2020

My Favorite Race Medal

I really should have titled this post: "My Medal Rack is Full". At the end of 2018, I realized that there was no more room on my medal rack. I thought about ordering a new one, but I had the thought that maybe I didn't need one anymore, that maybe I wasn't going to run so many races, and then there was the never-ending flare of 2019 which threatened to put the kibosh on any races at all.

In spite of all that, I accumulated a few medals last year. They've been hanging on the very end of the rack while I figured out what I was going to do. Last month while scrolling through Instagram, an ad for Groupon popped up. The deal was serendipitously for a medal rack. I have this conspiracy theory that Google, and maybe Facebook too, is always listening to us, although I don't recall discussing my medal rack situation. Anyhoo, I clicked on the ad and found the deal. The medal rack was 65% off the normal price. You could customize it--oh the pressure! and there were several size options.

It was a sign. I made an impulsive decision to buy the Groupon. I optimistically chose the largest rack and ordered it. It arrived yesterday. While I put all the medals from last year on one tier, I had the opportunity to take a trip back with a look at all my past medals.



I love all my medals for what they represent--the idea that if you put your mind to something, you can do it. I was never an athlete before I became a runner. As a child, I was active. We rode our bikes everywhere and we played outside until it was time for bed. In the summer we swam and in the winter, we played in the snow. But organized activities? Not so much.

Adulting is hard and in my 20s, I developed panic attacks. My type A personality got the best of me. I started running as a way to get rid of some of that negative energy and turn it into a positive. The confidence I got from running spilled over into other areas of my life and things really turned around for me.

I fell in love with an activity that I became pretty good at. While I raced a lot of 5ks and 10ks at that time, it wasn't until my 40s that I ran my first half marathon. Since then I've run 25-ish half marathons and 4 full marathons, along with other races of assorted distances.

Before I even ran my first marathon, I told my husband that if there was one marathon I wanted to run, it was the Big Sur Marathon. In 1988, we honeymooned in Carmel and fell in love with the drive along the Pacific Coast Highway. In 2016, my dream of running Big Sur came true.

I entered the Big Sur lottery in 2015 and got a spot, along with a Facebook friend. We made plans to run it together. I ran my 3rd Chicago marathon in the fall of 2015, took 6 weeks off to recover, and then jumped right back into a training plan for the April race. During that time, I developed plantar fasciitis that would not simmer down. Since I couldn't run without pain, most of my training was done by deep water running in the dive well at the local park district and riding my bike, which was in the trainer in my family room. I continued my strength training at CrossFit, where my coach focused on building strength for the hills I would encounter in California.

We don't really have hills here in Chicago. Not like what I was going to run for the race. I never wavered in my intent to run Big Sur, even in spite of my less than adequate training. My friend and I had made a vow that we weren't going to run Big Sur for time. We were going to soak up this amazing experience.

My husband and I flew to California. The day before the race, as we drove the course from Monterey to Big Sur, I started to get nervous. What had I done? What was I thinking? The hills were ridiculous! But the views--oh wow, I get to do this! I woke up in the middle of the night in a panic. I can't do this! But when it was time to go, I went.

We took a bus to the start line at Big Sur. My friend vowed to stay with me the entire race and she did. True to our promise to each other, we took our time and soaked it in. We took a lot of photos. We hugged at the finish. And I cried.


I cried because I couldn't believe that I got to run the Big Sur Marathon. I cried because my friend ran the race with me. I cried because my husband made the trip with me. I cried because I can do hard things and yes, if you really want to do something badly enough, you can make it happen! Believe and you can achieve. I can and I will. Everything you want is on the other side of fear.

The finisher's medallion from the Big Sur Marathon is my favorite race medal because it represents all of these things to me. You have to admit that it is a pretty sweet piece of bling. The same artist has made all the medals since the race's inception back in 1985. The medals are handmade from clay.

By the way, every time I watch Big Little Lies on HBO, the opening sequence takes me back to the race. Yes, I ran there!


Runners, what is your favorite race medal? /via @oldrunningmom @BSIMEvents #runchat #running #bigsurmarathon

What is your favorite race medal and why? Do you hang your medals on a rack? Or not? If you want to read more about this race, click here.

I'm linking up with Fridays with Fairytales and Fitness.



27 comments :

  1. Yes, I truly believe that what you believe you achieve -- if you work hard enough, of course. I'm so glad you were able to tick that race off your bucket list.

    Carmel is definitely a beautiful town!

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  2. What a sweet running memory! I love the picture of you and your friend at the finish line together. Unfortunately, during a tidy-up-like-Marie-Kondo attack two years ago I threw my medals away (after thanking them of course). But I would have kept the Big Sur one, too!

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    1. WHAT?! I've never considered throwing my medals away, although I have considered what will happen to them when I die...

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  3. I need a medal rack. I used to be anti medal, as in who needs more knick knacks, but then I ran a race at a winery and the medal had a wine stopper in it, and it was just too good to toss or keep hidden away. We have hooks in our mantel for Christmas stockings, so I hung the medal on one of those, and then last year I ran a 10 mile race that was very special so that medal went up beside it, and then I finished leg 5 of my hometown marathon relay so those medals went up...it's getting crowded. I keep my half marathon medals on my desk at work and that's getting crowded as well.

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    1. I've always been anti-medal for any race shorter than a half marathon. Not too many races do it, so it's been acceptable for me.

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  4. That's a great medal and a great story! It sounds like a wonderful experience. Also, that was a nice deal on a new medal hanger :) I'll have to keep an eye out for something like that too since my medal rack has gotten a little full too.

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    1. I am very pleased with my new medal rack! It's definitely not as nice as the one I have from Allied Medals, but it's pretty nice..

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  5. This is such an amazing running memory and medal so I can totally see why it's your favorite :)

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    1. My second Chicago Marathon, my redemption race, would me a close second!

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  6. I love the story behind this medal. Well earned! It is very uniquely crafted as well. I am not sure what my favorite medal is now you have me thinking about it.

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  7. Great medal and story. My favorite, of course, is the one from my first and only marathon. I never thought I could and I did. it was painful and I am grateful for every step in the journey before and during. Especially now with my current foot situation.

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    1. Aren't you so glad you did it? I just feel so glad I had the opportunity to run 26.2.

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  8. It's almost like our computers can read our minds, isn't it? Scary!!! What a wonderful Big Sur story! I would have cried at the end of that race too. I have been saying I am done with marathons but if there is any race that would make me come out of "retirement", it is Big Sur. I have never done it and would love to.

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  9. My medal rack is also full and I asked for another one for Christmas. I did receive one but have yet to hang it up. The Big Sur medals are surely unique. I have mine in a box because I dont want them clinking against other medals because they are so fragile.

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  10. I run for fitness and don't race. No medals. Beautifully written post!

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  11. I really like this blog! Well done.

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  12. I was just thinking similar thoughts about my MCM experience the other day. It was a race I'd dreamed of running for so long, it was surreal being there. Even the 18 miles of rain couldn't put a damper on the day.

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  13. My favorite medal is my first half marathon one - the Seawall Half Marathon in Galveston, TX. Bonus, it's a shell...kinda perfect for someone named Shelley. ;)

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    1. Plus it was your first...you always remember your first, right? :p

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  14. Awww, my 2001 Big Sur Marathon medal is one of my favorites as well. It's a favorite because of it's uniqueness and because I ran it with my husband and friend Miles. Like you and your friend, we ran it for fun and stopped to take lots of pictures along the way. From an accomplishment standpoint, my JFK 50-Miler and Boston medals stand out as pretty special.

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