Friday, September 30, 2011

The search for precious medals

Lately, a lot of our weekend hours have been spent in pursuit of one thing. It's round, shiny and hangs around your neck. Nope, it's not a diamond necklace. (Though, I wouldn't turn up my nose at a sparkly bauble should someone offer me one.)

I've been spending many hours these past few weekends running in races around the city, and I'll let you in on this dirty little secret of mine.

I like to win medals.

I know, I know. I should say I run for the sense of accomplishment I gain from all the hard work. And, that I run in races to raise money for worthy charities. And, that I run for the camaraderie of the running community. And, all of that is true. I do love crossing the finish line, even if I don't place. And, I even enjoy the training. Most of the time. But, I've gotta tell you the truth: I really like to get medals, too.

The great thing about running longer races (ie. marathons, half-marathons, etc.) is that you get a medal for finishing. My friend's dad calls this a participation medal and likens them to the participation trophies they give all the kids on a 5-year-old's soccer team. I don't like agree with that connotation. I prefer to call them finisher's medals. Heck, if you spend all that time training and then running 13.1 or 26.2 miles, the act of finishing deserves a reward.

However, most of the time with shorter races, you don't get a finisher's medal. You have to actually place in the top spots in your age group in order to walk away with that shiny round thing hanging around your neck. Now, here's the problem: I believe I am cursed with placing in 4th or 5th place. Ok, I don't always get 4th or 5th place. Clearly, when we run really big races, I'm nowhere near that high. But, the smaller races, when I actually think I have a shot at placing, I somehow end up in the dreaded 4th place.

I don't like getting 4th or 5th place. When you place there, you know that if you'd only run just a little bit faster, you might've actually won that medal. In the last 7 years, I've placed in 4th or 5th place seven times. Twice in the past year. Now, we all know I'm not a math genius, but I've gotta think that's a fairly high percentage of 4th/5th place finishes.

I'm bringing this up now, because, as you might've guessed, I placed 4th in the Helen Gold 10K two weeks ago. I did not bring home that medal. Color me annoyed. At myself. And, at my age group. If I had been in any age group other than the 30-34 one, I would've won or placed. Now, that's frustrating.

At least the Helen Gold race was for a good cause. And, we had a good time with all of Cory's family. Molly won her medal by running the kids' race. So, one Lafferty girl got to take home a medal. I guess we'll take what we can get.

The extended Lafferty clan: Amber, Me, Molly, Cory, Charlotte, Pat and Joan
Heading toward the finish.

Molly with her precious medal.
Two weeks before that race, I ran in the Northface Endurance Challenge. It was a 10K, so you normally don't get a finisher's medal. This race, however, did give you one. I won't argue. I took it. I wasn't close to 4th in this race, so I was happy with my finisher's medal.

Me and Anne.
Showing Molly how to stretch before her kids' race.
Getting ready to start the kids' race.
Molly and me with our medals. I think I'm passing on my shameful secret desire for medals to the next generation.

This past weekend, we ran in the Cerner 15K. Cory wanted a chance to redeem his time from our first and only other 15K, which we ran in Maine in May. Now, I think a distance of 15K should result in a finisher's medal. We got one for our Maine race. This one? After you crossed the finish line, right after they sent you traipsing up a set of stadium stairs, they handed you a glass etched with the Cerner 15K logo. Yes, that's right. A glass. And, they didn't even have beer for you to pour into this glass. Humph. Not exactly what I was hoping for.

Anne and me.
Anne, me and Cory. Cory redeemed his time by beating me by 1 second.
Wow. Isn't this exciting?
So, next up on the race calendar is the KC Half Marathon on October 15th. I am anxiously awaiting my gorgeous new medal. Just don't hand me an empty glass. Unless, of course, it was serving as a temporary jewelry box for that diamond necklace. That I would also happily accept.  


  1. Dwight and I liked getting medals for our volksmarches in the beginning but then enjoyed getting glasses, per Dwight...something useful! :-) Keep on running!!! :-)

  2. I love your honesty. And I agree--with as much time and effort we put into running, we deserve the recognition.