When I sign up for a race, I do it to motivate me to get in shape. It gets me to get off the couch and start moving, but most of all I do it for the medal. For years, I was running races and with each one, I would get a medal. That medal was not only a sign of accomplishment, but it also brought along with it so many amazing memories.
A bag of medals is what I called it because that literally is how I was storing all my medals. I could picture it, a Pottery Barn Kids bag full of so many memories and for years—they were missing. I have a pretty good memory so when I couldn’t find them it was going to be my daily goal to find this bag. But after months, even years, of not being able to find the bag I had given up. All those memories would be gone with it and that crushed me.
Recently we moved and going through every single box and as I look in the boxes, in the back of my mind I hope to find my bag of medal memories. My mom told me that if I cannot find them, maybe they were thrown away on accident. I couldn’t bring myself to believe that. All these memories and achievements gone? I couldn’t believe it.
It was Monday night and we were going throw box after box just trying to make a dent in all the things we have collected. It was 11:27 pm and I was ready to stop, go to bed, and do more the next day. I had to finish the bin I was working on and I am so glad I did.
A bin full of frames seemed like it was going to all by trash. Suddenly I saw it. There it was, my Pottery Barn Kids bag full of my medals, race pictures, bibs, and so many memories. I couldn’t stop smiling and suddenly the stories started to all come back.
There was the first medal I got at the LA Marathon along with the picture of everyone starting the race. Memories floaded my head of those that I was running with on the streets of LA. I remember running through the projects of people cheering us on, high school cheer squads cheering, and people outside with their pans trying to motivate us to keep going. Then you’d turn a corner to a newly developed neighborhood. Fancy cars lining the streets, and people outside passing champagne to the runners. It was an experience I will never forget.
As I kept looking, there was the medal I got for my first triathlon. The difference with triathlon medals is that not everyone gets one. You only get a medal in a triathlon for placing. After running a marathon a friend suggested I try doing trialthons. I had grown up taking swim lessons, but not competitively. Basically I had to teach myself how to swim for races. I borrowed a friend’s bike the morning of the race that was too small, but it worked. I jumping in the pool with the faster swimmers and was ready to go. They shot the gun and off we went. Before I knew it I was the first one in my lane jumping out of the pool. I was going faster than I thought I would and ended up in third place in my age division.
Races became a part of me and as I moved to Southern California there were more of them that were of interest. Disneyland half marathon happened in 2009 and when I pulled out the official race time I got from completing that, I was mortified. Clearly I did it for the atmosphere and not so much to get good time. I finished in just under three hours and laughed when I read that.
The second time I did Disneyland was with friends and we carpooled from Utah to do it. That would be an entire blog post on it’s own, but for that race I trained by running three miles in Utah. I knew it as a simple, flat race so training wasn’t a major priority. My friends I ran that one with will still be able to tell you all the fun that we had on that adventure. It reminded me of how fun it is to do races with friends so you have those memories to talk about for years.
California races that I loved were the OC half marathon and Huntington Beach Run. The OC half was great for me because I ran from one mall to another—Fashion Island to The Irvine Spectrum. If you know me, you know that I love shopping. Running from one mall to another couldn’t have been more motivated. The views were gorgeous and weather was absolutely perfect.
The Huntington Beach Run my girlfriend at the time and I signed up for it to get in shape. She wanted to run a race and it was something we could do together. About 500 feet in she got shin splints and felt like she wouldn’t be able to finish. She was 4’ 10” tall, so I picked her up and piggy backed her the rest of the way. Both of us laughed and loved the entire experience, but I remember we weren’t thinking when it came to pictures.
When you run a race you want your race bid visible so that they can get you your pictures. Both our bibs were covered and after looking through all the race pictures, we couldn’t find any pictures of us. We may not have physical proof that we did it, but it’s a memory that we both will have forever.
All my races weren’t always just in California. I did the Salt Lake Half Marathon and loved it. This was another race where I had to run to a mall. I did it when Gatewall mall in downtown SLC was a thing people actually enjoyed going to. Stores lines the street that people wanted to shop at: Anthropologie, J Crew, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Banana Republic. I started at the University of Utah and told myself I just needed to get to Banana. Here was my fasted race time, with the image of my time saying Salt Lake Marathon and that I completed in 1:49.49. Pretty fast for a marathon, but I did the half. Still a funny memory.
So many races have been a part of my life, with excitement to add more memories to the bag. I will never forget the memories from running my first Ragnar race, the many Taylorsville Dayzz 5ks, and the Dirty Dash. Disneyland Double Dare medals are going to be a fun addition, but excited for the memories I get to make with my family as we road trip it together for our first family vacation—just us.
And of course adding another full marathon medal as I run Revel marathon in September. Training for an entire year for this, just to make sure that I beat my time of from the LA Marathon—6:13.53. The medal collecting has been fun, but the medal memories are so much better.