What The Hell Was I Thinking Signing Up For This Race?
Last night, I registered for the Thanksgiving half marathon in Atlanta and after a gut wrenching $90 transaction, I was left asking, what in the hell am I doing? Why am I PAYING almost $100 to go run in the street?
Ninety dollars can do a lot of things. It could be a really nice dinner, several trips to the movies, a couple tanks of gas, three older video games, or 18 DVDs if you hit Wal-Mart at the right time. That amount of money can do a lot of things and thinking about that after I completed my registration gave me a little sticker shock.
With all those thoughts though, I wasn't going to back out of it and that's tied to the most important reason that it's worth every penny of $91.74.
I've been training for this specific race with a clearly defined training plan for three full months. In mid-August, I started planning and executing workouts for this, five days a week. I made my Thanksgiving travel plans largely around this race. I've quite literally poured my sweat and blood - sorry, toes - into pounding out over 200 miles of training runs.
This is some of the best money I've ever spent.
Aside from the sweet workout hoodie, finisher medal, and new bib(!); I've gotten months of motivation, a goal to push for, and an opportunity to be in a massive race with the chance to set a personal record. I can't imagine getting so much value from that level of monetary investment somewhere else.
This thought process also got me thinking about a great post that a friend of mine from college wrote recently on her blog, The Restless Wild. The post is about why it's valuable to run a race even if you're not trying to win it, but what stuck out to me now is thinking about all the reasons to race that aren't tied up into the actual race.
Would I have started incorporating increasingly long tempo runs and 400 meter interval speed training if I hadn't committed myself mentally to doing this race and aiming for a personal best time? Possibly, but probably not. Would I be waking up to crank out 10+ mile runs before the Panthers play on Sundays if my training didn't require it? That one is a no. Since I have been doing these things, among others, I'm feeling great on my long runs and my pace is picking up faster than I predicted. Crushing my time record from my first half is looking better all the time.
I love running and I love getting better at running so if it takes a little cash now and then to get into a race that will light a fire under my ass, it's definitely worth it. As tired and cliché as it sounds, I won't remember spending that money years from now, but I will absolutely remember my first Thanksgiving half marathon and, if all goes well, I'll have a new PR to remember it by as well.