12 Races – A story by Bekah, the “perky running partner”
I made a race calendar for myself in January. It was an answer to the question “What do I do now?” A question that presented itself almost immediately after finishing the Portland Marathon last year. I was very disturbed by the sinking bluesy feeling that crept up after I crossed that finish line. Well, not immediately after.
My finish line feelings were complex, but two stood out unmistakably above the rest. Right at the top were Utter Joy and Sheer Exhaustion. I was bursting with pride and SOOO ready to take a break.
During the grueling weeks of training I promised myself that after reaching the summit of my Mt. Everest, I would take some time off! I fantasized about sleeping in and drinking coffee. About the lazy weekends I would spend with my family once the 20 mile training runs were behind me. I was ready to rest. And after several luxurious days of not running I assumed I would start a new schedule. An easier schedule. I imagined short jaunty runs glowing with contentment and self satisfaction. I truly thought I could ride the high of that achievement for…ever. Well, at least longer than a week!
But it wasn’t so.
By the end of a week I was feeling a little lost. By the end of a month I was seriously mopey. Christmas was a nice distraction, but after the holidays I was so far down in the dumps I just couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me! Running still felt good…but. Something was missing. I no longer felt the excitement. I missed the visions of finish line glory that fueled my most challenging miles.
I needed something to focus on. Something to chase. I needed a goal. Not another marathon. Not yet. I promised my family more of my time, so dreams of a marathon PR would have to wait. But I needed something for myself. Something different. Racing, yes, but not the time sucking mile after endless mile of a distance race.
All at once and when I needed it most, a serendipitous thing happened. One of my Facebook friends posted her December race photo and shared that she had met her goal…12 months – 12 races.
12 months – 12 races! That’s it!!
A challenge, for sure. I can make this happen. I can make it my own.
I can do that!!
I checked the websites for local races. I live in Eugene so there are at least 83 million races every year. (That may be an exaggeration, but it feels accurate.)
Making my calendar was fun. A lot like shopping. Entry fees can be expensive, so I had to make some careful choices. I picked a few races that I could run with friends, an obstacle course race, a couple that are local traditions, and I joined the Oregon Track Club for their summer race series. (Joining OTC has many benefits, you could check it out if you want.)
In the end I scheduled not 12, but 17 races for the year! What a banner year this would be! 17 races!
The year started with a bang! In my first race of the year, a 5k, I won second place in my division! (I couldn’t believe it. It was like my eyes were suddenly opened to a new possibility. I can run fast?) The second race I won first in my division. (I’m on fire!) Third race I was the first female finisher overall! (What the..?!) Never in all my life did I believe I would win a running race. Not this girl, no way. But I did! And then again in May. First female finisher!
I should clarify that this by no means implies that I am the fastest female in Eugene. Not even close. Not by a LONG way. But it does mean that I ran my ass off. It means that I was the fastest woman who showed up that day, and that’s pretty awesome. It also means that my need for something exciting to chase was more than met. My cup was running over! In the good way.
But then things got tricky. Because things always get tricky. Kids get sick. Parents get sick. Sometimes the injury you’ve been ignoring decides it won’t be ignored for one more mile. Shit happens, basically.
I ran 11 races by the 4th of July ranging from 5k to half marathon.
And not one more since.
Now it’s December! If 12 races is going to happen it has to happen NOW.
The Jingle Bells Run 5k is tomorrow. I’m coming down with a cold, but I’m not going to worry. And it’s starting to snow.
It hardly ever snows here! Willamette Valley snow is a mist in the air that turns into puddles on the ground. But this? It looks like Colorado out there! How will I race if I can’t even leave the driveway?!
I’m worried. I want race number 12. I really want it. I don’t care if I run fast, I just want to cross that finish line and follow through on the promise I made to myself. I don’t know what Mother Nature has in store for us tonight, but I’m hoping for a December miracle.
Editor’s note: Bekah sent this Friday night, and alas, she got the dreaded news soon after: CANCELED!
Date: Dec 6, 2013 3:05 PM
Subject: Jingle Bells Run Rescheduled
Due to weather conditions making the course unsafe and the roads unsafe to drive on, the Jingle Bells Run has been rescheduled to Sunday, December 15, at 2pm. We look forward to seeing you there.
But, at least it’s rescheduled for a day in December, there’s a great chance Bekah can make her goal. Fingers crossed!