I've run quite a few races during the past couple of years, and I'm often asked what causes they support.
To be honest, I usually don't know.
I run races as a way to motivate me, to change-up my training a bit and to experience something new - sometimes it's a new place, sometimes it's a race with a gimmick.
As bad as this might sound (although I could argue that I'm just like a lot of runners in this aspect), picking a race is often more about where it falls on the calendar or its distance than it is the cause it supports.
This wasn't the case on Saturday when I entered the annual Jingle Bell Run 10K to support the Arthritis Foundation.
After a super-busy Friday, I was seriously questioning whether I'd have enough motivation and drive to get me to the starting line. But as the fleeting thought passed through my head, I was reminded that my mother suffers from arthritis and the least I could do was get out of bed and give the $25 registration fee to help support an organization that may give her some relief someday.
Plus, I told myself, my mom would probably give a lot - probably almost anything - to be able to run. Or walk. Or even just get in and out of a chair without help. I've watched her health deteriorate during the past couple of years, and things that you and I take for granted have become struggles.
I needed to run this race.
Tying the customary jingle bells to the laces, TC and I joined Jamie at the starting line. To our delight, it was a beautiful day for a run along the coast.
TC and I played the we-don't-want-to-finish-behind-that-guy game along the way to keep us passing fellow runners. We paced well and noticed that no one passed us in the last half of the race or so. Nice.
We crossed the finish line at the same time (technically I was slightly ahead of him, but that was only because he let me go first), giving each other high-fives, as we clocked a 56:10 final time for the 10K (a PR for me at a 9:04 minute-mile).
Jamie finished shortly after us, and we gathered in the school's gym for some stretching and food. We also learned that the guy that we agreed would be "acceptable" to finish near was in the 70+ age category. We both wished that we could look that good - and be running 10Ks - at that age.
Knowing we had a nice day ahead of us (perhaps one of the last of the season), TC and I had loaded our bikes onto the car before the race. We quickly changed from running clothes to riding attire at hopped on for a 20-mile jaunt along the coast - which started with me having a clipped-in fall in the parking lot just a few feet from the car.
Luckily, it got better from there. By the end of the ride - we'd put in 26.3 miles in running and riding that day - our legs were tired and we were beat.
Still, we agreed it was a great way to spend a Saturday in November. And we were both motivated enough to get up the next day for some more - me with a 10-mile run with my teammates and TC with a 20-something bike ride around Candia and Auburn.
Wish we had more weekends like that.
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