One of the great things about running races is the free t-shirt. Depending upon the race, runners could receive a relatively cheap cotton t-shirt, a dry-fit shirt (that are always in men’s sizes and always big), a long-sleeved t-shirt (my personal fave), or, if one runs a full marathon (which I won’t), a long-sleeved, dry-fit shirt – the epitome of running shirts. One of my spring break goals was to clean out my drawers. Yes, while friends are lounging on beaches in the US and abroad, I was home cleaning my drawers. Anyway, race shirts.
I have over 25 race shirts. I have many other t-shirts that also have some kind of meaning. I really don’t need 40 t-shirts, but there are so many I can’t bear to part with. My daughter suggested I have a quilt made, which I might actually do someday. As I went through my race shirts today, and I pondered tossing some, I was bombarded with memories of races gone by.
There’s the light blue VUJC shirt…that was my very first race ever. It’s a keeper. I remembered how hot it was that day, and that the final 100 yards were all uphill. And I remembered how incredible it felt to cross the finish line. And then there was the Strassenfest shirt. That was my third race, and I remember the end of that race: a lady, whom I presumed was about my age, came up to pass me in the final stretch, and I sprinted to the end to beat her. I was so proud of myself for beating her…until she came up and thanked me for pushing her. Talk about a dose of humility!
I also have my race shirt from Las Vegas. How could I toss that? That’s the race for which Gary and I got up at the crack of dawn, paid an absurd amount for a taxi ride to the race, and ran before my family even crawled out of bed. I will never forget running and seeing the beautiful view of the mountains in the back ground. I have my Turkey Run shirt from this past Thanksgiving. I love that shirt. I ran a really good race that day. My pace was superwoman fast for me, and I placed third in my age group. I have a little bitty trophy for that effort, but I still can’t let go of that shirt. I have another shirt from an Owensboro race. That was my first 10K; that shirt stays. And I have the gray shirt with strawberries on it. That was quite a race! It was down in Kentucky, and it was the first race for my daughter, Morgan. It was also the race that a woman – again, about my age – attempted to pass me as we neared the finish line. It ticked me off. She was absolutely not going to pass me. She didn’t. I kicked her butt. She, however, didn’t thank me. I really am not that hateful; I just get a wee bit competitive at the end of races. If I have been in front of someone for 3 or 6 or 13 miles, I do not want her to pass me at the end.
I still have my shirt from my first half marathon. How can I just take it to Goodwill? I won’t. I love that shirt. It represents a dream that actually came true. It represents months of training. It represents when my friend Jackie and I crossed the finish line hand-in-hand. I can’t even get rid of the shirt from a little race in Rockport that didn’t go so well. When I pulled out that shirt, I remembered the hip injury that caused me to walk some of that race. It was terrible. But that shirt also reminds me that most injuries aren’t forever, because there are lots of shirts that came after that one. I also kept my Race for the Cure shirts. Those races are so very meaningful. They aren’t about racing; they’re about remembering those we’ve lost, and honoring those who survived.
I won’t bore you with every story behind every shirt. Until I get a quilt made. Then I’ll show you my quilt, and tell you every single story. It’s my story. It’s the journey I’ve been on the past four years. And I was blessed today to get to remember the journey, and what a wonderful time it has been. I hope to continue collecting shirts for many years to come.