For many runners, circling the neighborhood a few times a week suffices. I know I like the flexibility to step outside and choose where I run, how far, if I get coffee after… factors that help my run fit into my week. So why bother racing an event like Running Between the Vines here in Jackson? Races start early; you might find a port-a-john line; add drive time and registration costs and you have a case for a solo Saturday route! If that’s where you stand, totally cool with me. But I’m itching to line up soon.
Missing in that description are the rewards of race day. My average run does not include a t-shirt or post-race party. I don’t earn a medal to proudly wear, then hang up (or use to stopper a bottle of Sandhill Crane Pinot Grigio). I don’t often see new places or hear cheers from enthusiastic volunteers and spectators. My average run lacks encounters with like-minded runners, sharing goals, stories and nervous laughs in those bathroom lines as we mentally prepare to surge forward on “GO!”
My favorite benefit of racing comes before the big day, though. After I carefully research, commit and pay my entry, I get to be in-training, working toward a goal. Sure, it’s tough to leave weekend gatherings with friends, preparing to run the next morning, but I savor the feeling of having a new logbook entry as others are just moseying into brunch. I eat, sleep and schedule better, prioritizing group runs and meeting friends for a few miles.
Sometimes injury, illness and busy lives derail plans to hit a goal, but we can always race just for the fun. We can race to visit somewhere new, support our community, or to help a friend cross their first finish line. We can race to wear that tutu or pair of wild socks. We can race to measure ourselves against others, or to see how far we’ve come from our previous selves.
This year, I’m hungry to prove to myself that I can reach my running goals while also working hard every day to help organize events like Running Between the Vines, where other people reach theirs. I can’t wait to cheers our participants on August 18, and then maybe sneak in a run after the race, enjoying the same beautiful country roads in pursuit of goals of my own.
---Written by Lizzy Bayoff
Lizzy Bayoff is a runner and member of the RF Events staff, who organize Running Between the Vines at Sandhill Crane Vineyards in Jackson. She didn’t quite hit her goal of running last year’s Detroit Free Press Marathon, but had a LOT of fun running the Half Marathon with her mom instead.