This week, I put up a running themed Christmas tree. I used medals as ornaments, a heat sheet for a tree skirt, and a race bib for a tree topper. Instead of presents under the tree, I have awards from placing in some of this year’s races.
As I recover from a season-ending knee injury, I realize the leap of faith it takes to go for a run, let alone toe the starting line of a race. So many people will never run. Of course who do run, many will never train for a race. Of those who train, many will not start the race, and some will not finish. Finishing a race is an accomplishment.
Whether you’re an elite athlete or a Couch-to-5Ker, running takes you out of your comfort zone. You have to be brave to toe the start line of a race- brave enough to run what you hope will be your fastest race at a distance, longest distance, or first race post-injury.
A running Christmas tree is more than a Pinterest Project. Each medal tells a story far more complex than the finish time. One story involves setting goals and finishing a half marathon #CharlestonStrong, one second under your goal time. One story involves sloshing through a muddy trail in memory of a friend’s 9-year-old son who passed away but inspired a community. One story is about running in memory of a cousin who committed suicide and in honor of a new friend who received an organ transplant.
So many Christmas trees are “corporate”, with matching store-bought ornaments or fancy décor. Those trees are beautiful, but don’t represent me. I’m sweaty, smelly, scrappy, muddy, messy, and mismatched. I’m hard working, tenacious, and brave. I’m a runner.
Merry Christmas, and here’s to a 2017 filled with running fast, taking chances, and dreaming big.
I’m grateful that so many local races, including the Charleston Marathon, Race the Landing Series, and James Island Connector Run recognize ALL runners by giving out finisher’s medals. All three of those races are some of my favorites, and I recommend them to anyone in the area (or outside of the area but willing to travel to Charleston).