Enjoy the tapestry of training and racing
Running mirrors art in so many ways. Being partial to Impressionists, each stride can be seen as a minute dash of color on the canvas of our physical being. Over time, the collective strokes reflect hundreds of miles logged in training and racing. Eventually, shapes emerge to tell a story of our athletic feats. A masterpiece, a personal Monet, is expressed in our body and etched in our mind every time we test ourselves in an event.
Fortunately, Alaska offers countless running opportunities on roads and trails throughout the year. Virtually every community, from Nome to Ketchikan, organizes 5Ks, hill climbs and trail races, all of which give us a chance to further sculpt our body and test our spirit. (A complete listing can be found in the “Alaska Runners Calendar” at www.muni.org, at its Anchorage Parks and Recreation Page.)
This is where the art comes in. Each of these events is aggressively marketed, sporting logos and graphics that depict the challenge. Those images often appear on the countless T-shirts that commemorate your racing efforts. Some shirts promote even more validation, or prestige, by adding the word “Finisher” on the garment. The shirt becomes a cherished banner that identifies you as part of the event’s tribe. Over the years, the shirts multiply in such a way as to fill a secondhand store for runners. I can see the sign in the window: “Gently used race apparel,” “ideal for those who want to go the distance but can’t find the time.” (Ah, but there is an unwritten code that one does not wear a shirt they have not finished.)
No matter your habit – whether you are the great hoarder of T-shirts or just starting to fill your dresser – there is another option: Consider creating a quilt, a visual tapestry of your fitness journey.
However, building a collection of shirts takes time. Mine has 30 panels. The quilt, sewn by my wife, Jane, reveals a lifetime of fitness-related activities that include volunteering, coaching, travel and races that span a wide range of fitness activities. It serves as a historical record of some of my most cherished moments afoot. Yours will do the same. When it is finished, you and everyone who sees it will know that there are stories behind every stitch, a tapestry of lifelong wellness.
Start building your memories this year by running races in different parts of the state. Use the Runners Calendar as a planning tool. If you are on a limited budget, go for the local series in your own town. Skinny Raven Sports in Anchorage offers a different race every month. (www.skinnyraven.com)
The Shamrock Shuffle is this month and will probably add green to your quilt. My favorite is Skinny Raven’s Twilight 12K and Skinny Mini 6K in June. The local running clubs in Fairbanks, Juneau, Palmer, also host numerous events for their communities. Go to www.runningclubnorth.org for the scoop in Fairbanks and www.anchoragerunningclub.org for the some more Anchorage events. The quest for the quilt depends on time and economics (these events can get pricey). One can easily run six races in a season. Plus, you can also score T-shirts by volunteering at most races. Using a volunteer shirt in your quilt speaks volumes, as it states you understand the importance of giving back to the sport that has given so much to you.
Seeing your finished quilt is your tapestry of fitness unfurled; it represents years and years of effort and is a lasting, artful way to repurpose those treasures that you gave a pound of flesh to earn. It is also good housekeeping and much cheaper than expanding your closet or purchasing several dressers.
— Keep striding and smiling,