I did a 5K today that represents a turning point in my running T-shirt collection. I had to start a fourth shelf to accommodate the next phase of expansion.
The three other shelves are nicely stacked and neatly packed with a colorful array of shirts, never worn but highly valued. For a long time, those shirts represented the only thing I received to show I’d been there, run that. Then I got much older and a little better and started placing in my age category. (I’m also probably outliving some of the competition, but let’s not get all smug about it).
A total stranger approached me before the race this morning, just to ask me about my running experience. I told her I’d never done this particular event before, but I’d done about 100 others (based on my T-shirt count), plus triathlons and competitive swim events. She was just starting out, and was mostly walking her races at this stage. I told her to keep at it, because it would get easier and she would run more and walk less over time. She asked me why I do this. It’s the one question for which I never seem to have a good answer. I enjoy it, and believe that competing against yourself first and others second is the best way to obtain a sense of where your training routine is and where it need to go. It’s a means to challenge the ravages of time and the onset of disease, and a great way to get involved with a very caring community. It’s how to be alone in a crowd, a team of one against the clock.
And it’s a means of expanding your wardrobe. Unless you’re like me, and those T-shirts sit on shelves, testament to early mornings, long drives, heating pads, ice packs, easing out of bed or a chair due to day-after aches and pains and untold money spent on entry fees. And in case you’re wondering, there’s an empty shelf number five about shelf number four.