For the first time in ... well, since I started this running thing, I ran into a detractor. I'm used to people rolling their eyes when I start talking running and races and such. That's called #runnerworldproblems. But when I mentioned a medal for finishing a 10 mile race this coming Sunday, she outright laughed. "So, like, one of those everyone who participates gets a medal?!"
No, sweetie, everyone who finishes 10 FREAKING MILES gets a medal. And that's not everyone.
I know she's not a runner herself, so I mostly shrugged it off. Mostly. But I see article after article about how running as a sport is being "dumbed down" for the masses by tossing in finisher medals or gimmicks into fun runs. Like somehow, having a run with paint thrown at you or no timing chips means We Can't Have Nice Things at the Olympics.
I came to the following conclusion: if you are offended by that race, then it is not your race. Find the race that's for you.
In my civilian (aka non-running) life, I'm a librarian. I hear similar things about books--that if it's not Capital-L-Literature-with-a-British-Accent, it doesn't count as reading. But we librarians adhere to Ranganathan's Laws, the second and third of which are every reader his book, and every book his reader. Yes, I can pull out peer-reviewed articles on how well educated the average romance reader is or the different types of brain functions that occur when reading a comic book, but will that change the opinion of the elitist who thinks James Joyce is the only legitimate kind of reading? Probably not.
Bottom line: If it's not your book, then it's not your book. And that's okay. But it may be mine.
Corollary: If it's not your race, then it's not your race. And that's okay. But it may be mine. No one made you the Gatekeeper of Running.
We. Are. Runners. Period.
Whatever gets you up and moving is right for you. I'm over the color-flinging races myself, but if that still brings you joy, do it! If you want a full marathon, do it! I like running costumes. Some would argue that doesn't make me a "serious runner." If "serious runner" means speed, then you might be right--I am very slow and I make a ton of newbie mistakes. But don't tell me I'm not serious if I'm getting up before dawn in all weather on a consistent basis.
And don't laugh at me for being motivated by a medal.That bauble is the difference between What I Already Know I Can Do and What I'm Not Quite Sure I Can Do But I'm Going to Damn Well Try. If that isn't the spirit of athleticism, I'm not sure what is.
It's my race, and I'm going to run it.
I may wear it to work on Tuesday just to show off my awesomeness, gorramit.