As my return to running continues and I slowly start to regain leg strength, I’ve begun to think about the rest of my running year. As 2017 wound down, I decided to create a spreadsheet of regional races I was interested in participating in. Based on how out of shape I am, the list displays a remarkable amount of ambition.
However, I think being away from running inspired me to be organized and proactive about the upcoming year. If I spend time researching this assortment of 5Ks, 10Ks and half marathons, I thought, it’ll inspire and motivate me once it is time to get back to work. And it did. Unfortunately, while ambitious thoughts may be free, race entries are not.
Since my hernia diagnosis derailed my running calendar last July, there have been some interesting financial developments that have taken place in my life. In October my wife and I became home owners. This investment, in and of itself, would’ve altered my priorities significantly going into the new year, what with the initial down payment, new furniture purchases and higher monthly expenses. However, I also had the pleasure of recently throwing down $4,000 (thanks, insurance deductible!) for my super awesome hernia surgery, which has left my bank account feeling as drained as I do after a hilly half marathon.
Have I mentioned my family desperately needs to buy a new car?
All of this puts me in a tricky situation: I want to get out there and hit it hard and run a ton of races, but I’m a little short on cash. I’ve already enacted a running gear purchasing embargo, which means no new shoes, tights,socks or other gear until I feel I can afford it. As for races, most of the events on my list fall between March and October, so I have time to collect recyclable cans, sell blood plasma or find some others way to fund my race appetite.
What other ways are there? Well…
Find a Sugar Mama
There might be a wealthy, older woman out there who’d be interested in funding my races while also keeping me in the best tech shirts and finest running shoes money can buy. And for her patronage, all I’d have to do is… yeah, I don’t think the wife will sign off on this one.
Instead of compromising my dignity and destroying my marriage, I could start a Go Fund Me page, which would only compromise my dignity. I’m in my forties, but I’m under the impression that these types of crowd funding sites are how millennials get money for stuff. Perhaps there are fools people out there who would love to make a 43-year-old man’s dream of running a half marathon in a tropical location come true!
Run for Hire
Americans are known for wanting results without putting in the work. With that in mind, I assume there are folks out there who’d like to say they participated in this race or that race, without actually participating in this race or that race. I could start a service where these passive people register for races and give me the bib. I run the race and get the joy of competition while they pull up the finishers list and show their friends and family how well they did in that 10K. I’ll even let them keep the event t-shirt. (But not the finisher’s medal… that bad boy is mine!)
Create My Own Race
If I can’t afford to run a new race every month, maybe I could start my own. How hard could it be? Plot out a route, print out some bib numbers, put up some fliers and see who shows up. I could call it The Broke Folks 5K or the Cul-de-sac to Town Fun Run or the Laps Around My House Mile. The number of participants would probably be pretty low, but I’d have a pretty decent shot at finishing first.
While I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen someone “bandit” a race, I’m pretty sure runners hate it. I’m also pretty sure I could get away with it. I always where my bib on a race belt on my hip, and no one looks at my hip, so if I had a fake bib number on… Okay. I’m kidding. Relax. It was a joke. I’m not going to jump into your precious race and deny the giant organization putting on the event my entry fee… as far as you know.
It’s unlikely my running year will meet my ambitions, but I’ll figure something out. I won’t be able to do a travel half marathon or run race after race, but I’ll find plenty of low key (and low fee) events and I’ll just get by with some well-worn gear. As long as I’m running, it’ll be a good year. And perhaps if I get hit by a car I can sue the driver and “earn” enough money to have a full, robust race calendar in 2019… provided I can still walk.