Medals Or Memories?

I have a drawer full of race medals. When I first started running four years ago I treasured them like precious jewels. The guys I ran with had the motto ‘It’s all about the bling’. We would travel the length and breadth of the country in search of additions to our collections. The bigger and more colourful the better. I remember once running a ten mile race and being handed a commemorative mug, as opposed to a medal, at the finish line. I was devastated.

In my first full year of running I competed in around 25 races. That’s 25 weekends away from my family. Fionnuala was very understanding and supported my healthier lifestyle but looking back I was selfish. As the weight fell off me and my medal collection grew I became increasingly cocky. As my times tumbled so my arrogance increased. Family life revolved around my racing calendar. It was only a matter of time before the wheels came off and indeed they did.

When the chips were down the majority of my running friends were nowhere to be seen. In my hour of need the medal haul meant nothing. My marathon personal best was irrelevant. And it was the people who I had largely neglected that stood by me – my family. They didn’t give a hoot about my running heroics. They just wanted their husband and father back. The real me and not the fake persona I adopted on race day or on social media. They loved me for who I was, not who I wanted to become.

I’m planning to run six races this year and I hope to have Fionnuala and the kids cheering me on at a couple of them. It will mean another six medals but they are not the reason I am doing it. My mental and physical health benefit massively from running and I also raise money for a charity close to my heart. I will be setting conservative targets with regards finishing times instead of busting a gut to get a personal best. And I won’t be going on Facebook or Instagram the second I cross the line to brag about my exploits.

All that glitters is not gold. I can take or leave the medals now. They can go in the drawer with all the others. The medals I will cherish the most are the less visible ones. The memories that will be created with my family, the smiles on their faces as I cross the finishing line and the fun travelling to and from the events. These are the rewards that you will always carry on your heart as opposed to around your neck for a few, fleeting hours. They are the reason I am where I am today.

What do you have in your trophy cabinet?

How do you intend to make memories this year?

30 thoughts on “Medals Or Memories?

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  1. As usual you hit the mark! My job, my house, my “things” are not my treasures. While they may provide me comfort in this world, it is my husband, daughter, her husband and my two grandsons that are treasures worth more than gold. Without them my world would be in colors of grey rather than the vibrancy of colors that each of them bring to my life and my being. They teach me, they love me when I am unlovable, and together we create the memories I will have for a lifetime and beyond.

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  2. I have a lot of medals but it’s been spread out over eight years. When I first started I joined a running group (actually paid for the training). I only did that twice because it was all about speed and time and eventually I found myself like these annoying people. So now I have found training schedules on line and follow them. I try to do a spring and fall full marathon to keep me running. If I’m not training for a race I don’t run. I do the local races for the most part. Now the big fifty was in South Dakota and my husband went with. They had stops every five miles and my husband was at each one with drinks and food and encouragement. It broke the race up nicely into ten sections and I had something to look forward to. Of course because I’m insane we went and saw Mount Rushmore the next day. No out of town races planned for this year!

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  3. Yes, so important to consider why we do what we do. Both our activities and motivations for them should be healthy, physically and emotionally. Memories beat medals every time.☺

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  4. Wow! That was really very time consuming…
    happy you know better what your priorities are and why you do things now… and yes , running is awesome for both body and mind!

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  5. That’s quite a commitment, but as a new runner I can see how easy it would be to get carried along in wanting to compete, achieve, succeed. Less than 2 months into my running journey, I’m already keen to build up the bling! So your post has come at a good time and will serve to remind me of the people around me who matter more than any amount of bling.

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  6. I won first place at a poetry slam two years in a row when I was in high school. What stood out to me, when I looked at the trophies (they’re in an attic at my parents now) was remembering I didn’t settle with my poetry when I was young. I wrote about God, about issues that were going on, and I had really low self esteem then. But never about Christ, and that always spoke to me, and still does to this day. He has given me so much. He’s my inspiration.

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  7. Extremely well thought out. Mindfulness comes, often, when we are at a low point. We can focus on the truth of the moment and the moments that brought us to this point. You are lucky to have a truly loving and understanding family. And they are lucky to have someone willing to take the hard look at themselves and know where they have erred.

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  8. This post resonated with me. My running was along a career path. It lasted 50 years during which I achieved great success. However, the aftermath of all this time spent away from my family still lives with me today.
    PS – Senior Scribblers is a new interest for me and it is putting me in touch with a whole new world.

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  9. Great post. It can be a real struggle to balance taking time for ourselves with shortchanging our loved ones. Thanks for an honest look at how it happens, and how to do better.

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