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Do You Race to Win?

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
User is currently offline
on Monday, March 11, 2013
in Road Races

Leprechaun Leap 5k 

Why do you race?

A race is by definition:


A competition between runners, horses, vehicles, boats, etc., to see which is the fastest in covering a set course.
Compete with another or others to see who is fastest at covering a set course or achieving an objective.
I think runners run in road races for many reasons. A race is a competition. For a small group of runners the competition is for 1st place overall. This would include elite runners and typically the best runners in a geographic area. Another larger group of runners compete for the age group awards. The competition for these awards varies greatly. At some races it is very difficult to place in your age group and at other races just finishing with a half way decent time is enough to place. If you are not fast enough to compete for awards then runners can still be competitive by competing against friends or competing against themselves by improving their time at a particular distance or on a particular course.
So now that I have explained racing...Why do you race? What if I told you that you would place 6th overall and 1st in your age group at your next race? Would you consider that event a success? Would you need me to tell you what your time was? If so...would you care?
Runners can be funny people. Yesterday I ran in the Leprechaun Leap 5k in Nashua, New Hampshire. This is the third week in a row that I have raced. As I mentioned last week, I am really excited about getting back to racing in 2013. I did not know very much about this event but I chose this race due to the close proximity to my house. Unfortunately I woke up on Sunday morning not feeling at the top of my game. On Saturday night I attended a surprise 40th birthday party for a friend of mine in Worcester, MA. For all of those Seinfeld fans I will describe what happened as.. I went to the party and yada...yada...yada... I did not feel great on Sunday morning. I struggled to the start line with basically no warm-up. Since I didn't know much about the event I was unpleasantly surprised to be greeted with tough hills on both the 1st and 2nd miles. The third mile was mostly flat with a good downhill but the damage had already been done. As you would expect I had no "zip" in my legs and the entire race was a struggle. My splits were 643, 704, 641 with a finish time of 20:56. Now normally I should have been just under 20 minutes on a tough course like this so I was not happy with my time. In addition last week I ran 20:18 and thought I had a bad race. The big surprise came with due to the small field (115 runners) I ended up finishing 6th overall and 1st in my age group and won a medal.


Now as I analyze the results I had no chance to win the overall race even if I ran my PR so 1st place in my age group was the best possible result. In addition the course was hilly so even if I was in great shape I would never be able to PR on this course so that wasn't an option either. So the question is...Why do you race? Do you race to win? If my best possible result was achieved why should I care what my time was? Would I be happier if I PR at an event and finish 10th in my age group and win nothing? I guess it really depends on why you enter events. Placing overall in an event is not realistic for me so placing in my age group is the best I can do. In my opinion if I end up getting an "ugly" win it is still better than not placing at all.

At the end of the day we are all trying to improve our race times and winning a meaningless age group medal doesn't make my time any better. Even though that is true, I do strive to place in my age group at every event. Whether you believe medals/trophies are meaningless or not, running is our sport and that is what symbolizes success at an event. I don't know about you but I like be called up to receive an award. Why would I cry about my time and downplay my award? I showed up, ran the race, and reaped the closed.

I have met a lot of people that never seem to be happy with their race times. No matter what success they achieve they are always upset and claim they should have done better. I am going to make sure that person is not me in 2013. I plan on entering 25-40 events this year and guess what...I am going to have some good ones and I am going to have some bad ones...If you race a lot that is the reality. I only hope that regardless of my race times I get a chance to win more medals!  See you out there!

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Show me your wall of medals!

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
User is currently offline
on Friday, October 19, 2012
in Uncategorized

Running Medals Explained

Many people have come over my house and have seen my "wall of medals". For those that are not familiar with the award system of running/triathlon the first impression is that I am some kind of incredible athlete. I am not vain enough to count the amount of medals on my wall but let's say I have quite a few. Now I am proud of "my wall" but I am not an incredible athlete. I have listed the three ways you can "win" a medal in the sport of running below.

There are 3 ways to receive a medal in the sport of road running. The first way is to actually win the race. The first person to cross the finish line is the winner and typically second and third are also recognized. This is great if you are good enough to compete with the top names in the sport. Most of us are not in this category and will never have the opportunity to be the first across the line. In other words there is no chance to ever win a medal in this fashion.

The great part about running is that there is another layer of competition. The second way to win a medal is the age group competition. The age group competition allows for a secondary competition within the race for all runners within certain age groups. Most races recognize 10 year age groups and award medals for 1st-3rd in each age group. If you don't place in the overall race then you are automatically moved into the age group competition. This is great because if you are 55 years old and have no chance to win the race you can still enjoy competing with other runners in the same 50-59 age bracket. In most races you still have to be very good to place in your age group but with the tremendous amount of races out there today once in awhile a mediocre time can still place.

 There is also a third way to receive a medal. Most longer races such as a half marathon or marathon award a "finisher's medal" to all runners that can complete the event. This medal is not for placing overall or in your age group. This medal is simply for finishing the race within the time limit. Now is finishing a half marathon an incredible feat? How about a marathon? The answers to these questions really depend on who you are.  Many people have completing a marathon/half-marathon on their bucket list. When they finally cross the line the personal pride and sense of accomplishment can be incredible. Others have completed the event many times. Either way, what do you think of the finisher's medal? I think the finisher's medal symbolizes an accomplishment but it also is a nice way to remember a moment in time. I consider the finisher's medal to be like a "postcard" from the event. I can look at the medal and remember the day I did the race and everything that was involved in completing the event. I am a big fan of the finisher's medal as long as it doesn't start creeping into shorter events. Once in awhile a race will give out these medals for sprint triathlons or shorter running events. I think keeping it at the half marathon distance or greater maintains a certain effort level required to earn a medal.

I have earned my medals all three ways above.....and you can see my "wall of medals". If you have been in the sport of running for awhile I know you have medals. Where are they? If you have a "wall of medals" please send a picture. Be proud!!  Let's see your wall!!






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