image2Medals. Love ’em? Hate ’em? Ambivalent?

I’ve only been into running for about two years now, but in my research I have discovered that the art of the finisher medal in the road race industry has exploded over just the last five years. Even runDisney medals five years ago were kind of meh. Now, you have the Little Rock Marathon battling the Mississippi Blues Half Marathon for who can produce the most gigantic piece of gaudy bling to entice runners into registering.

Personally, I love a good finisher’s medal. It used to be I wouldn’t sign up for a race ten miles or more that didn’t offer some shiny bling. Hell, sometimes during a half marathon when I’ve wanted to quit I’ve lustily imagined the shiny medal in my hand and it propelled me to keep going. But my relationship with the finisher medal has changed over time. I could forego a medal for a commemorative pint glass or jacket, unless it’s a race that’s really special, like the Marine Corps Marathon, in which case I will take all three please.

The reason I love the finisher medal is for times like these, when I can’t really run, but I can put my fingertips to something heavy, something detailed, that commemorates what I did – and isn’t that what goes into training for a specific distance, a specific course? It’s heavy, and it’s detailed. It’s hard. And then race day comes and it’s over in a few hours, less if you’re speedy. But the medal is forever. 😉

Bling haul for 2014 alone

In having to forego next weekend’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas half marathon, which was to be my last medal race of the year – and on the one-year anniversary of my first half-marathon, no less – I can now look at all the medals I accrued in 2014. Some mean less than others – the virtual races, that I did mainly to help keep me motivated in training. Some are prettier than others – the runDisney Glass Slipper challenge weekend medals, which truly are fit for a princess. And some are just gratuitous – the Disneyland half marathon medal is bigger than my hand. (Granted, I have rather small hands.)

Each one tells a story, and I will totally be that old grandmother that, instead of taking her grandkid through photo albums of her youth and droning on about the school dance, will be telling the same story of how I wanted to quit the Frederick Half Marathon at mile 10 and cried and sobbed at the pain in my feet until a random girl ran by, clutched my shoulder, and told me “you GOT this, girl, you can DO it!” and I never saw her again. But I made it to the finish line.

No, no, you can’t take this awaaayyy from me.

These days we don’t take pictures like we used to. This story really stuck out to me because of this quote: “They took photos so differently back then. It was something that was meant to share in a photo album, and we take selfies and photos of sandwiches.”

I can’t really reverse the trend of social media photography, so my mementos from this period of my life (which hopefully lasts a long time) are things like race medals, and jackets with the name and date on them, and crinkled bibs, and the worn in soles of my favorite pair of shoes that have too many miles on them to still run in but I can’t bear to part with.

So I definitely welcome a nice change for a finisher’s premium – anything I can and will actually use, like a mug or even a coaster if it’s well-designed enough. But I doubt there will ever come a day I cross the finish line of a half or a full and just toss the medal in a drawer. It’s my 2014 answer to the photo album.

And they sure are nice to display. 🙂