Running Christmas Tree Reflections

This December, I put up a running themed Christmas tree in my home.

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The ornaments are medals, both finisher’s and placing, from several years of running. Most have the finish times and my place written on the back with a sharpie. My friend Steve gave me a silver heat sheet to use as the tree skirt.

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I didn’t have a star or angel, so I topped the tree with my ring of race number bibs. I can change which bib displays on the ring, but I’m fond of my Cooper River Bridge Run one. I’m a bit flattered that someone who works in their office considers me “competitive”.

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This week, I went downstairs on my lunch break and reflected on the past few years of running and life. When I started running in 2009, I had no idea that six years later I’d have a Christmas tree themed around running six years later.

I’ve run through job changes, family members and friends passing away, an engagement, a wedding, home buying, and several moves (including to Charleston). I’ve overcome severe iron-deficiency anemia and a stress reaction. I know how it feels to run a 33 minute 5K and a 21 minute 5K.

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The medals on the tree represent so much more than finish times on a clock- they represent training, hard work, and the bravery it takes to step to the starting line. The bravery to tackle your longest distance ever, or what you hope will be your fastest pace at that distance. The bravery to tackle your first race in a new city, or your first race post-injury.

Some medals are for finishing, while others are for placing in my age group or overall, but each medal tells a story. One story includes holding down a race registration tent in winds and pouring rain. One story involves running on a muddy trail in memory of a friend’s 9-year-old son who passed away but inspired a community. One story is about a spontaneous half marathon where we participated in a plank challenge before the race.

Many stories represent meeting goals, while others miss the mark. Most stories are about running to benefit a charity or greater cause, and every story is about leaving a comfort zone behind.

So many Christmas trees are “corporate”, with matching store-bought ornaments or fancy décor. Those trees are beautiful, but that’s not who I am.

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 new year filled with friends, family, fun, and fast times.

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23 Responses to Running Christmas Tree Reflections

  1. That’s a neat themed tree! I like that you took parts of races you’ve done, and it’s a great way to end the year.
    Hey, I don’t have my own star or angel tree topper. I’m just using a red bandana tied like a Christmas bow. I only have one of those small trees right now. I’ll gradually build up.
    Thanks for sharing with us. I love Christmas tree pictures. 🙂

  2. Oh my goodness, I LOVE YOUR TREE! That is so FREAKING COOL – complete with the Mylar blanket! I love love love it soooooo much! I am going to pin it and share it on Pinterest!!!

  3. Hollie says:

    It’s interesting to reflect upon the year and look at how far you’ve come. I love that themed Christmas tree though, that is definetely neat.

  4. KrisLawrence says:

    I LOVE that idea. I haven’t made a Running themed Christmas tree but I’ve always had this dream of having a real tree in our living room AND our bedroom because I love the look of the lights and greenery. We haven’t done it yet but maybe I’ll make the bedroom one running themed.

    • Amy Lauren says:

      You should do a running themed one- I bet you’d have a ton of medals or bibs to put on it, and you can find some neat running ornaments too (Fleet Feet sells them here). You should celebrate the big victories you’ve had this year with races and overcoming injuries.

  5. Amy, this was such a beautifully written post and I can relate on so many levels!!! Medals trophies and bibs really represent so much more than numbers on paper and a time on a clock.
    LOVE your running tree, love what it means to you and I’m totally going to make and put mine up next year!
    : )

    • Amy Lauren says:

      You should! Or at least hang medals on the Christmas tree. I don’t think people realize that they make such cool ornaments. I just wrapped my ribbons around the branches so that I didn’t have to take them off.

  6. Liz says:

    That’s such a cute idea for a tree! I like that there are so many memories in your tree and that it means so much! Next year will be mine and Jon’s first Christmas tree ever! We probably won’t even put one up except that it’ll be Jackson’s first Christmas, so I guess it’s time to start celebrating 🙂

    • Amy Lauren says:

      You should definitely put up a tree for your family next year with it being Jackson’s first Christmas! We have always put up a tree ever since Clay and I moved in together in 2011. In fact, I think I put it up maybe 2 days after I moved in with him, as soon as I was all unpacked. Christmas and holidays are big business in our house ;).

  7. Margaret says:

    That’s such a neat idea for a tree. Love it!

  8. What a fantastic idea! Love the mylar at the bottom 🙂

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Thanks- I’ve only done 1 race that gave those out (it’s too hot at most races in SC) so I’m glad Steve had one. I did learn that Wal-Mart sells them year-round, haha.

  9. kristenk says:

    This is awesome! What a fun idea! I love both running and Christmas so I might need to do this sometime!

  10. amyc08 says:

    Love it! Great idea 🙂

  11. Pam says:

    This may be my favorite post you have written Amy. The thought behind the post, of the meaning of each and every medal and your desire to work hard and earn them is highly motivating for others, including myself. You push yourself daily to be the best you can be and that is very inspirational for other runners/athletes. Congrats on showcasing all your hard work in such a fun way! I love your tree.

  12. Elizabeth C. says:

    Wow- that is such a great idea! I never thought about using medals as ornaments. I love your tree!

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