By Guest Blogger: Kate Baron
SWAG: The free stuff you get at races – including what you may get for finishing.
I’m not ashamed in the least to admit that I, at times, run for the t-shirt. Judge me – or admit to relating! However, as I have become a veteran racer I’ve learned that there is sometimes more than just a t-shirt on the line to enjoy at races.
I can tell you stories of disappointment where you can hear the chatter of runners of all kinds griping about the post race food. Just apples? Not enough drinks? Five boxes of bananas and nothing else?!
Then, there are the races that go above and beyond. You don’t just get a cotton t-shirt…you get a hi-tech wicking performance shirt. They no doubt have your preferred size and have not only made large and x-large. The race is organized and well managed. It’s easy to maneuver your way to registration and packet pick up, the pre-race expo is full of great vendors handing out desirable samples, and you feel like a rock-star because the sound system is blaring great music. I’ve been to many of these races – always a delight.
Today I experienced a whole new level of of swag. Though all swag is free, today’s I considered PRICELESS.
Today I ran the 36th annual Tufts 10k for Women race in Boston, Massachusetts. Over 8000 women lined up to complete 6.2 miles – together. PRICELESS. The camaraderie in this exclusively women’s race was unbelievable and inspirational. I’m getting goosebumps as I type now. PRICELESS. The pre-race was the most organized I’ve ever experienced with the parking garage emptying runners conveniently right out onto the Boston Commons where registration and the start/finish line were. Oh the ease! PRICELESS. Joan Benoit Samuelson actively present at the race and interacting with runners (she’s an Olympian for those who might not have heard of her!) PRICELESS. Long sleeve tech shirts made by a quality company in the size of your choice – smalls in high quantity!! PRICELESS.
Your own name (yes, personalized!) printed on bibs for all runners – how to make one feel famous and important?! PRICELESS. Rusted Root (one of my favorites) and many of my other personal favorites, pumping energy through the speakers before, during and after the race. PRICELESS. Drinks of all types, high quality protein bars, salads, bananas, pretzels…in plenty for everyone, handed out by friendly volunteers galore. Let it be noted that most of what makes the magic happen, is in the fine details and orchestrating for an event like this. Tufts Healthcare didn’t miss one. PRICELESS.
My personal favorite swag of the day I saved for last – as it made my day…and my race! Free pace bracelets for everyone! PRICELESS. Prior to the race starting, anyone could go up to a set aside table and get a pace bracelet. For those that might not now, this is a bracelet that lists your goal times for each mile. If you want to run a 9 min/mi for the race – it lists each mile so you know if you are on track. I was concerned about today’s race – and was feeling ambitiously hopeful to finish with an under 8:45 mi/mile pace. At the pace table, I first grabbed the “8:40 mi/mile” bracelet.
As I got ready to put it on, I had a mental check and thought…”Push yourself for a better goal pace. If you don’t make the faster goal time – then who cares! Just go for the glory today!” So I grabbed the “8:20 min/mi bracelet”. As I raced I found that I was excited to get to the next mile because I was on track! As I rounded the corner back to the Boston Common I saw the 6 mile clock and knew I had not only done it – but I had BEAT my goal time! I ran the last .2 miles with everything I had, finishing with an 8:11 min/mi pace.
The smile on my face and the feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction with my drive (thank you pace bracelet!). PRICELESS.
So, enjoy your free race swag whenever you can and don’t ever underestimate the power it may carry to push your limits.