I have been known to take a pretty hard stance against wearing race shirts for races that haven’t been run.
In my 2+ years of racing, I have missed a couple of races: once for being sick; once for being sore; and thrice (all in 2014) for being injured.
I even refused to wear a race shirt from a 10k that was cancelled due to extreme heat.
I tossed that one and a few others right in to a Goodwill bag. I had no use for it. I couldn’t wear it if I didn’t even run the race, right?
Thousands of those registered for the 2012 NYC Marathon that didn’t come to pass still wore (and regularly wear) their race shirts from that race. And it is okay for them.
The fact that those runners never ran that race was the result of something far greater than a personal determination not to make it to the starting line. It was because this great city had suffered a tragedy and could not direct its resources on that day to support an organized race. They had trained. They were not injured. They were ready, on that day, to show up and run.
So why did I wear the 2014 NYC Half shirt to the gym today? And better yet, why do I think it’s okay?
Well, there are a few reasons:
First, I knew months before race day that I wouldn’t be able to run. I had been in physical therapy since early January for an injury that set in during the month of December. By late January, when NYC Half training should have commenced, I couldn’t even sit comfortably for a few minutes at a time — let alone, train to run a PR in the Half.
Second, registration for the NYC Half took place months prior to my injury and I had financially committed to the race. So even though I knew that I could not run it, I still wanted to go to the expo (I love expos!) to pick up my shirt, grab some freebies and learn about new innovative gear.
Third, when it became clear that I would not be running this race, I decided to make a deal with myself. I was going to perform some other athletic feat that would enable me to deem myself worthy of wearing the NYC Half shirt.
Fourth, though I never resolved what said athletic feat would be – and on the day of the race I merely ran on an elliptical and completed all of my physical therapy exercises – the day after the race, I did something that I never imagined possible…something that has opened my mind to a whole new range of races, sports and challenges.
I ran my first ever brick workout.
After warming up on the elliptical for 15 minutes and doing a series of dynamic warm-up exercises, I ran two miles at 10k pace…and then, with minimal transition time, swam 12 laps in 10 minutes. Then I kick boarded and aqua jogged to cool down.
I haven’t signed up for an aquathlon yet, though it’s on my radar and I am researching local events. I am even thinking about triathlon and have already decided that I will give myself the gift of Ironman sometime before my 4oth birthday. I am excited about all of these new possibilities. I still have such a long way to go, and recovering from this injury is just a start. But it feels good to have big goals again. Just thinking of it makes me happy. Knowing I’ve taken the first steps makes me proud.
So this morning, before heading to the gym for an elliptical and dynamic warm-up, followed by a 3 mile run, followed by planks and foam rolling and physical therapy exercises — I threw on my 2014 NYC Half race shirt.
After all, I had earned it.