Why I love running

I just completed a 10K race this weekend and I’m still riding off the high of setting a new personal record; I shaved off 5:16 from my previous 10K time. This race was with the Brazen Racing group, which have become my favorite group to run and not just because they give out It’s-Its after every race.

Summer Breeze finish

 I promise I was not excited because I was seconds away from getting an It’s-It.

While I was running, I couldn’t help but reflect on why I love running so much. This is such an interesting sport with people on every level competing together (and not against each other). There were people of every shape, size, and ability level but there we were, all huffing and puffing towards the same goal of finishing. Finishing was the only thing that mattered.

It didn’t matter if we ran the whole time or crawled over the finish line; we all worked hard and finished. I liked seeing the camaraderie on the course; strangers cheering each other on, high fiving each other and passing on words of encouragement. Anything and everything to keep our spirits up and focused.

Yes, it’s hard to see people heading back to the finish before I even make it to the halfway point and I’m in awe of people who finish half marathons in the time it takes me to finish a 10K but instead of being discouraged by these people, I’m encouraged because they were once where I am. No one is born running; even the most decorated runners had people outrunning them at some point. But they kept at it and, if I’m being honest, while I’m busy admiring them, someone down the line is admiring me. That is quite a humbling idea.

While I love running for a myriad of reasons like: having time to think or not think, competing against myself, having some me time, staying healthy and fit, what I really love about competitive running is the communal spirit. While we’re doing this individually, we’re still doing this together. That strangers encourage and congratulate others because we all know and understand the struggle that is running and the joy of triumphing over it.

The Brazen Racing website has this quote on their homepage:

 We run, not because we think it is doing us good. But because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves – Sir. Roger Bannister

Yes, indeed.

Show me your bibs!

Thanks to my racing habit, I now have a nice collection of race medals and bibs. I had been looking for the best way to display them because for a time the racing bibs sat in a file folder in a cabinet and my medals were in a box on my bookshelf. Except for my very first medal, which I placed in a safe space so I wouldn’t lose it and it’s in such a safe place that I now can’t find it. So it’s super safe wherever it’s at. But I digress. What’s the use of having all these medals if I’m just going to put them in a box and forget about them until I get another medal that will end up in the box to be forgotten?

So I searched the Internet to see what was out there. I’ve seen the metal medal (ha) holders but even at $20-something dollars, it was more than I wanted to spend. I also wanted to display my bibs and even though I’d love to plaster them on the wall like wallpaper, I don’t think anyone would like that but me. My friend Kim shared a great idea that I loved and pinned on Pinterest (follow me on Pinterest!). She framed the medal she received from her first half marathon and I thought that was a great idea. So I bought a picture frame and some matting that I could cut myself since I wanted to display my bib along with the medal and mocked one up. I loved the way it looked but then wondered if I was really going to hang so many pictures on the wall. I figure I have a few more years of racing ahead of me and that would be one massive wall of frames.

Then I ran my half marathon and received this medal. Do you see this medal? Do you see that it’s a cork stopper? That would require a shadowbox frame and I didn’t really want to get one. Since I plan on doing this race a several more times, there will be several more potential cork stopper medals so I had to look for another option.

I restarted my search following my Turkey Trot (which I didn’t write about, but it was Thanksgiving morning – a great way to make room for the feast) and came across Running on the Wall and found my inspiration. A couple of trips to Michael’s and Home Depot later, I had my very own bib holder.

race bib display

While it’s not as polished as the ones at Running on the Wall, for less than 10 bucks (I’m guessing; I don’t have the receipts anymore), I have a fantastic place to display all of my bibs in one place. I’m still on the hunt for medal displays (I’m not sure if I want to make one myself or just buy one from them) so if you have any ideas or pins, let me know. Tag me in the pin or link it to this post. I’d love to see how you display your medals.

Staying on right side of the fiscal cliff


One of my goals this year was to get my finances into fighting shape. My budget program of choice, You Need A Budget (or YNAB – I wrote about it before) has been helpful to get me to think more in terms of staying on budget, however, I noticed that I was still struggling a bit between paychecks and unable to make any contributions to my savings accounts. So I decided to take the time to take advantage of the many webinars, video tutorials, and fairly active forum YNAB makes available to learn how to use this awesome program. What’s the point of having a sword if you don’t know how to wield it?

I signed up for one of the introductory webinars and, you guys, I learned to much! I can’t believe I didn’t take one sooner. I was content with just reading the how-to’s and tutorials but that obviously wasn’t working. Sometimes you just need additional help. During the webinar, I realized my problems had stemmed from an incorrectly designated budget account. I made my savings account and “on-budget” account, meaning that that money was being counted as spendable, but I was only spending money from my checking account. You can see where the issue lies.

Now that I’m properly educated on how to use YNAB, I’m excited to get going again. I reorganized my budget categories, correctly assigned my accounts, and instead of budgeting for the whole month, I’m now budgeting with each paycheck so I can make sure each dollar is being distributed. I have a few aggressive savings goals for this year that pretty much hinges on getting my finances correct. I have benchmarks for an emergency savings fund, my everyday savings, our wedding fund, our apartment fund, and I need to set aside some money for my life insurance that I want to set up and start making a real dent into my student loans. Look at how grown up and responsible I am.

Even though I just started on the new regime, I’m really excited. I keep checking my YNAB app as if there were some changes since I last added transactions (of course, there hasn’t) and I look forward to payday just so I can fiddle with my budget again. It’s nice to know that I’m taking the first steps towards being in control of my finances and to stop being controlled by them.

What are your financial goals this year? What are you doing to reach them?

I ran a Half Marathon; I do what I want.

You guys: I did it. I survived the Healdsburg Wine Country Half Marathon. And when I say ‘survived,’ I really, really mean SURVIVED because it was a battle of wills.

As I said before, I didn’t really train as much as I should have. This wasn’t the distance where I could mess around and expect to do well like I did for my last 5k, but yet I allowed myself to be talked out of running at every turn. That was a huge mistake. I was arrogant and stupid and grossly overestimated my ability to run 13.1 miles for the first time ever.

I was a bundle of nerves but ready or not, I was going to run. The race started fairly well. My whole plan was to alternate between running and walking (this helped to inflate my ego and confidence in my ability to finish this race without much issue. I’m trying not to smirk as I write this.) and because I’m a genius, I didn’t have anything to actually time myself to make sure I stayed on a 2 min run/1 min walk pace. I ended up running until I needed to walk, which worked for a while but I ended up running out of steam a lot sooner than I probably would have had I regulated myself.

I started touching the mile markers at 7 miles because I had never ran that far before and it seemed appropriate. Things were going well until around the 9 mile mark and then I hit the wall at mile 10. I could barely convince myself to move and ended up walking most of the last 3 miles, which was kind of disappointing. I thought about quitting several times during the race but when I touched that 13 mile marker I was proud that I kept going through the sore muscles, blistered toes, and a slightly wounded ego.

I did end up running across the finish line (even though the pictures make it look like I just walked) and my final time was 3:10:31. While I hoped to finish under 3 hours, I’m happy to have finished at all. Sure I could barely move and had to shuffle but I conquered 13.1 miles and had the medal to prove it.

I wore that medal all day. Looked great while shopping for snacks at the gas station on my drive home.

I wore that medal all day. Looked great while shopping for snacks at the gas station on my drive home.

Would I do this again? Abso-freaking-lutely! I’m already looking for my next half and I’m sure I’ll sign up for the Healdsburg race again next year. Would I do a full marathon? Right now I say no knowing full well that I could change my mind later on (remember when I said I wasn’t going back to school?). Let’s just say I’m keeping my options open.

I can do that. I ran a half marathon.

Going Half Crazy

So sometime after I conquered my first 10k run, my ego and competitive spirit got the best of me and decided I was going to run a half marathon. This year.

Yes, it decided for me. Still trying to figure that one out myself.

The original plan was to run The Giant Race as had been my habit the past couple of years; it was my first 5k and 10k race and I thought it would be awesome for it to be my first half marathon as well. Except this year it was scheduled on a Sunday. Whomp.

I flirted with the idea of tabling the half marathon until next year. Like, I was flirting so hard with it that I gave the idea my number. I was convinced that I was going to wait until next year. Then I stumbled upon a half marathon that was on a Saturday. Score!

The race is next month and of course I haven’t ran in about a month. I’ve had a myriad of excuses why: I was hungry. I had to yell at the student loan people to change my due date for the millionth time. I dinner plans. It’s too hot. While this approach may work for a 5k, it definitely isn’t something I want to do with this half. I’m hoping to get more consistent in this final month.

I’m really excited for this race (it’s also a Halloween themed race so I’ll be dressing up! Costume to be revealed soon) and I can’t wait to cross that finish line. Even if I end up crawling across. I’m going to finish.