It's all about the bling.
Running marathons and half marathons, you are left with lots of things afterward - a feeling of satisfaction at job well done, some pain that will eventually dissipate and race pictures that may or may not turn out.
But easily the most rewarding benefit to running 26.2 or 13.1 is the race medal. There's something about the medal that makes you feel as if your efforts were worth it. Long after you've ran the race, after all the sweat and blood and pain has disappeared, a glance at the medal can bring it all back.
When I ran the Long Beach Half Marathon, I did so for the medal. Having already run Surf City Marathon and the San Francisco Marathon, I only needed to run the Long Beach Half Marathon in order to get my California Dreamin' medal and jacket.
Signing up for and running Long Beach was a no-brainer then. I had run two grueling marathons and felt that running Long Beach would help me complete my conquest of California.
After the Long Beach half, I was immediately given my race medal. But several minutes later I walked around looking for the place where I could get my CA Dreamin' medal. A helpful runner helped me locate the tent and pretty soon I was handed my bonus medal.
I know it sounds cheesy but when I put that medal on I felt like a champ. I was proud all over again of having run Surf City and San Francisco. Surf City was of course my first marathon and I broke my half marathon PR in Long Beach but I felt like I earned my medal in San Francisco. Long Beach was a breeze compared to that.
Regardless, each race was difficult and presented its own set of challenges, and to have them all brought together with one medal makes it special for me.
After the race I was lucky enough to spend time with Katie of One Run at a Time. We posed for celebratory pictures as she had done well in conquering her own half marathon.
I told Katie that since she did San Francisco and now Long Beach, she had to complete the series and run Surf City in February. Sadly, the California Dreamin series is going away, and Surf City is the final race in that series. I'm not sure why this is, but that's what's going on. I wonder if something new will take its place.
Anyway, the series for me also included San Francisco...
... and Surf City...
My beloved CA Dreamin medal
And the four medals I earned.
I like to think that I put a lot into running, into training for races, and into the races themselves. These medals will always serve as a reminder of the blood, sweat and tears that went into each mile out there on these respective race courses.