When I first started running, I loved running in big events. There’s a special feeling about being part of an event with thousands of other people. I would get caught up in the energy of the crowd and get pulled along to the finish line. I enjoyed the anonymity of the big events.
I think I enjoyed the big events because I was never alone, I was always part of a pack. Normally I don’t mind being alone. But when you’re running in a race and you suddenly find yourself alone, you know that you’re either the leader or you’ve fallen off the main pack and in danger of coming in last. When you’re a slow runner, like me, it’s a wonderful feeling to know that there are a couple of hundred people who share your pace and a couple of hundred more who are slower than you. There’s never a danger of coming in last.
Naturally, I would also run smaller local events to fill up my race calendar. These races had between 75 to 250 racers, usually. Most of the time, I managed to stay in the back of the pack only rarely finding myself alone in that dreaded place between the slow runners and the fast walkers.
And then it happened. I won an age group prize in one of those small local races. It didn’t matter that there were only 5 women in my age group. It happened again the next year. Suddenly, I found myself seeking out small local races. Big races still had their place in my race calendar but small races were the place to be.
Of course, I didn’t win or place often – just enough to keep me interested – every other year or so. Kind of like the slot machines in Vegas – you win enough to keep you hopeful that the next pull will be the jackpot pull.
While the energy of big events can be uplifting, the odds of winning, placing, or showing in a smaller local race are much higher. And that’s motivation that will take you beyond race day!