Everyday Athletes, Olympics & the Power of a Bib

“Nothing is impossible. The word itself say’s ‘I’m Possible.’”

I’m sitting here on a Sunday morning, computer on my lap, coffee in hand, watching the men’s marathon. Pretty much a perfect morning with just one dark spot – it’s one of the final events in the Rio Olympics. Oh, how I love the Olympics! I’m sad to see it be over.

As I’ve been watching the Olympics and the most elite athletes in the world, I’ve been thinking about everything they do leading up to one competition. The hard work they put in, the sacrifices they make, the years they devote to be able to compete on this level. For the ones who compete in multiple events, the added mental work they must do to be able to prepare for each event; forgetting the success or failure of the event before, looking to the one ahead. For the ones who compete in one event, the overwhelming stress of putting it all on the table; all that work, for one moment.

Kind of gives me chills! Going after the biggest, most ultimate goal for most athletes. And I have to believe they’d all say it’s totally worth it.

Bib

The powerful race bib

While I watched today’s marathon, I started thinking about everyday races. Not just a marathon, but a half marathon, a triathlon or 5k. The local events hundreds of average people take part in each week. Why do we do it?

There’s no gold medal up for grabs, no endorsement deals at stake and no visions of standing atop the podium, hearing your country’s national anthem playing. So why do we, average athletes, race? Why is it we train for weeks or months, get up early on the weekends for long runs, then pay money just to participate in races? What’s the power of that race bib?

On Saturday, I paced the 2:10 finish time in Fargo’s GoFar Woman half marathon. As I went through the miles and met several different women along the way, I had a thought. Maybe we race to capture the Olympic feeling for ourselves. Whether running for a top finisher’s spot or to show ourselves it’s possible – it’s that feeling of competition and achievement, knowing we put in the time and work to put it all out there on the course.

IMG_7176

Pacing. My new obsession.

I saw the determination of the women who passed my group, the gut-it-out looks of the ones who were digging deep to push through the last miles and the joy on their faces when they came across the finish line. We may not be Olympic athletes but there’s glory out there, all our own, that we have the ability to capture. I think that’s the power the bib holds.

Next weekend, I get to do it again as a pacer for the Women Rock half marathon in St. Paul. Even though the games will be nearly a week over by then, I’ll still have that Olympic spirit! And of course my longtime love of running and newfound love for pacing.

Why do you race? Do you love the feeling of competition? Is it more about having a goal to keep you motivated through workouts? Comment or tweet me @runlikegirl311 on Twitter.

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