Posted in Thoughts

Once upon a race

Once upon a race in June of 2014, I had this crazy idea that I would buy this $60 medal rack. I had only one medal from a 10k I ran back in March 2014 and of course buying a 10 hook medal rack made complete sense in that brain of mine. It was just so cute and I just had to have it, right there and then.

My first medal back in March 2014
My first medal back in March 2014

Well, fast foward to this month and wouldn’t you know it? Six 5ks, four 10ks, a 15k, and 5 half marathons later, I completed my medal rack. There was no set date on completing this medal rack. I just signed up for more and more races and without even realizing it, I finished it. And it feels GREAT! This doesn’t mean that I’m going to stop racing. No way, Jose. I’ve already started looking into new medal racks.

Six 5ks, four 10ks, a 15k, and 5 half marathons later
Six 5ks, four 10ks, a 15k, and 5 half marathons later

It’s been an interesting ride the past year or so. The most common question I get from friends is “Why would you pay money to run?” The concept is absurd to them. Why would I pay some organization money to put myself through the pain of running 13.1 miles or whatever distance I choose to run? The answer, to me, is simple.

1. A little motivation never hurt anybody. I have never been that motivated of a runner. As mentioned in a previous post, I was never a fast runner. I struggled completing an extra credit mile in middle school and in high school, I collapsed at a track meet race trial for the 400 meter dash. It probably had something to do with that bag of chili cheese fritos I consumed every day in middle school. I just shake my head at my younger self. Even now, I crave such unhealthy foods. So aside from trying to eat healthier, I also pay to run in races to keep me motivated to run. If I’m going to shell out $65 – $200 on a race, you bet your butt I’m going to train for it.

2. That shiny medal that you receive at the finish line? Oh yes please. People can argue that you paid for that medal, but if you really think about it, do you actually think it would feel as good if you just paid $60 and received a medal? I wouldn’t.

3. And finally, last but not least, the racing atmosphere is contagious. I had a friend recently jokingly hate on my paying to race. He suggested paying him the money and he’d follow me with a bike and bullhorn and yell at me while I ran. The racing atmosphere is nothing of that sort. At the race, you’re surrounded by people who for one reason or another are also running. Some may be running for their health. Some…for a loved one. For whatever reason, they are up with you in the early morning and it’s a great feeling of camaraderie. It’s uplifting. As I run along each course, I see the most inspirational people – elderly people, children, parents pushing their kids in strollers, people in wheelchairs, and even neighbors who wake up early to support the runners.  An excuse like “I’m tired” isn’t going to cut it when you see these people pass you by. These people, whether they know it or not, push me to try harder and I find that each time, I can go further than I originally thought.

So there you have it – the method to my madness. 🙂



My name is Mai and I am a recent PhD graduate. :) When not hard at work, I can be found training for a race, traveling the world, or talking about Disneyland. Come join me on my journey and help me navigate this world. :)

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