Monday, April 8, 2013

Big Rewards from Small Packages

Everyone who reads this blog knows of my love for racing. I'm not entirely sure where this competitive creature that lurks inside me came from. Perhaps it's latent frustration at coming of age in the 1970s, when girls were just gaining some respect for being athletic. Perhaps it's compensation for my inability to think and speak on my feet. Instead of commanding a place verbally, I try to do it athletically. No matter; it's a personality trait, and one I have come to embrace over the last 10 years I've been focusing on running for more than recreation.

Here's something else I've come to discover about myself--I enjoy running the smaller races, and not just because I am better able to place in my age group (though that's a nice perk). A lot of these races take place in small towns--with the charms those can offer--benefit a wonderful cause and often show off a feature of the place, whether it be a terrific high school band, a spectacular waterfront view or a historic site.

Just missed my goal of 55 minutes while besting the two women behind me. 
Now, don't get me wrong; I still enjoy what I call "the spectacle race," the one with several thousand runners that tends to cost a bit more but also shows off how popular running has become. While I will always try to run Syracuse's Mountain Goat with its beautiful view from Onondaga Park in Strathmore or its challenging hills, I have no burning desire to run the New York City Marathon and its several tens of thousands of runners. As a Central New Yorker, it's expected that I head to Utica every July for the Boilermaker. Well, guess what? After running that legendary 15K for several years, I'm done; I'm over it. The BM is behind me (so to speak). And that's OK--if me not running clears up a registration spot for a rookie runner, all the better. And when you get to the top of the hill at mile 6, please trip the guy on stilts (I've wanted to do that for years!).

While in the midst of training for the May 5 Mountain Goat, I returned to two races I have done before, both with their smaller-town charms. The School House to White House 5K in Pulaski benefits the high school marching band and its quest to travel to Washington, DC to perform at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It's a small race--this year 131 participated in the 5K--but it appears early in the racing calendar (March), so it's a terrific way to enjoy some fresh air and help along a good cause.

Then this past weekend, we headed back to Rome for the Fort to Fort 10K. This race has been active for 26 years, yet I rarely see anyone from Syracuse there. That's a shame because they are missing out on 1) a rare 10K, 2) the coolness factor of running into and out of Revolutionary War-era Fort Stanwix, 3) and the chance to benefit the Red Cross. This race costs a mere $20--while some 5Ks are going off the charts by charging $35 and more. The course featured a downhill at the beginning--which became a challenging uphill at the end--and a whole lot of flat in between. Excellent course support from friendly volunteers and police officers made the 6.2 miles fly by (well, almost).

As an added bonus, we are seeking races that have a kids' fun run attached, as did these two (as well as the Mountain Goat). My 9-year-old stepdaughter enjoys the fun aspect of these runs, but she especially likes the goodies she receives after a job well done. Maybe she won't wait until her 40s for her own inner competitor to emerge.

My next race: The DAR 5K, April 14, another smallish event that raises money to
send Tanzanian children to college. Who can argue with that?

1 comment:

  1. From: Darin Armstrong #TeamLIVESTRONG

    Hello Molly,
    Just a quick email to ask if you would be interested in a ‘mutual’ following on twitter. I am currently following you now and am awaiting for your follow-back. (#FYI I do RT’s ‘anytime’ for all #Triathletes #Cyclists #UltraRunners #Marathoners #FitnessProfessionals who follow me on Twitter and have something important they want mentioned for support…)

    All the very best to you & your family for the rest of 2013 & beyond Molly. Look forward to hearing from you…