Monday, January 27, 2014

Loser Race Shirts

Like all of you, I have a ton of old race shirts just lying around (or is it laying ... it's a grammatical mystery to me).  And it's not just the actual race shirt ... sometimes there's a race t-shirt that accompanies said race shirt.  And then, if you actually spend money on another shirt at the race expo, which I inexplicably sometimes do ... you can end up with three or more shirts from the same event!  Huh???  A little excessive ... ya think!

Now I'm not really a big, "Hey everybody ... look at what I achieved ... look ... look ... it says so right here on this t-shirt with a giant logo!" kinda guy.  I mean, I hardly ever even wear my Boston Marathon jacket.  But in truth that's partly because mine was an ugly year - black and green.  Plus, I have THE ONE year where the patch on the back is not an embroidered patch ... it's a lousy cheap silk-screen.  I know ... oh boy, Jim's problems!  Nor do I have a 26.point.anything sticker on my car.  If the other motorists aren't aware that I've completed several marathons, I'll still make it to work.  But on the other hand, when you make running a major part of your life, race shirts are about the only thing you own.  So if you see me, I'll probably be in some sort of SWAG from a race.

In fact, the top shelf of the tiny square foot of closet space my wife has allotted me is a like an ancient burial ground of races of yesteryear.  There are so many memories there, stacked up, waiting to be worn proudly ... but sadly, most never see the light of day.  There are, however, a few race shirts that make it to the front of the rotation.  They're what I call my LOSER RACE SHIRTS!

My loser race shirts are the ones where I failed miserably.  The threads from races where I thought I was gonna be "bout it" (I think that's how my kids say it) ... but I ended up broken, beat down, and in most cases pissed.  They're the ones that remind me to run an extra mile, to do the extra core work, to pace myself a little faster.  They're the races that taught me not to get too full of myself ... and the ones that simply say, "Hey dummy ... ya wanna go through this pain at the finish line again???"

The #1 Loser Shirt I own ... 2012 Prairie Fire Marathon,
cool logo, but aka "My biggest running failure ... ever!"
I know it's probably not the healthiest thing in the world to be motivated by anger, or the fear of failure, or other's doubting you ... but a lot of great athletes are driven by those exact variables.  And while I'm absolutely not a great athlete, I certainly let negative thoughts fill my head to push me harder and harder during training.  (I try to keep it in the "marathon box" ... don't wanna carry around negative energy.)  Heck once, one of Michael's co-workers told her I would "NEVER qualify for the Boston Marathon" running races as often as I did.  I let his words ring in my ears every day for 9 months ... EVERY DAY ... I'm not joking ... before I qualified the first time!!!  And every time I qualify again, his stupid voice is in the back of head.  I so badly wanna find him and tell him that I'm on #6 and counting.  But that would be pathetic.  And I may be small ... but I'm not pathetic.

The point is, sometimes I use petty little negative reminders to drive me.  And I make it a point to wear shirts from races where my performance was horrible.   And by far, the single most often worn race shirt in my collection ... the 2012 Wichita Prairie Fire Marathon.  Ya'll remember good ol' "Project 3:09" don'tcha!  I do.  I think about it all the time.  I really thought I was going to run sub 3:09 that fall, but failed miserably.  The good thing is, I learned a lot of lessons that I still utilize from that race.  Mostly ... "don't build up nervous energy before you get to the starting line".  Or said another way ... RELAX!!!  But the shirt serves as a constant reminder that I'm nowhere near my running speed goals yet.  And every time I feel like letting up in training ... I put it on, and stare down at the rabbit.  That sounded weird ... but you know what I mean.

So anyway ... do any of you have silly motivational gimmicks like this?  I'd love to hear about 'em.  It might even give me some new training ideas.  Now mind you, I wear some of the shirts where I ran well too ... but that would be a pretty arrogant blog post, don't ya know.  But suffice to say, I wear my failures on my sleeve a lot more than my successes.  Not as a way to wallow in defeat, only as a means of hopefully getting better.
... be great today! 


  1. You should hang out with Sean Payton. He's so into motivational gimmicks! Like having a jazz funeral to "bury" a bad season, lol.
    PS. Use "lie" to describe your body in recumbent position. Use "lay" to describe placing an object down. For example, "I had to lie down after finishing that last 800m" vs "I will lay the baby down for a nap."

  2. We're so different. My strategy is to give myself permission to not be great, to set very reachable goals and then be happy to exceed them. I keep very few race shirts, only ones I really like or where I did particularly well, and I wear even fewer of them. Other than my bike rack (and my scars) there are very few outward signs of my secret endurance athlete identity.

  3. I'm like Kate - I try not to put too much pressure on myself because I'm not good at pressure. But that doesn't mean I slacken off in training. I'll often go out for an easy run and end up making it a tempo one. But giving myself permission to take it easy is sometimes what I need to get out the door when I'm feeling a bit tired. As for race shirts - I only keep the ones that make me look good. Because I'm vain like that.

  4. I've got a massive collection of race shirts and t-shirts. I put new ones at the bottom and wear my way through them from the top. I am now working through 1997 shirts with a few 1996 ones still popping up. I don't allow myself to wear a shirt of a dnf or dns or something like that. Those I use to wash the cars to remind me I must go back and revenge the race. One thing though, I keep all shirts. I have a cupboard just for them.

  5. Yeah but Grace on the lie/lay conundrum ... if an inanimate object is resting on a shelf isn't it also lying? I think I'm only supposed to use lay when I'm "placing" something. I dunno. My brain locks up on lie/lay.

  6. I don't really have a system for shirts, I still wear my one and only marathon shirt proudly, maybe if I ever do more I will come up with a better system, but the tech shirt I like hang in the closet and the cotton ones go in a drawer.

  7. I DNFed a 1/2 IM a few years back at mile 9 of the run... I wear that shirt for motivation... and as a reminder to race (and train) smart. I basically cooked myself trying to catch one of my training partners in the 95F Florida heat.

    on another note I have a 3.1 sticker on my car... for two reasons.

    5Ks are badass if you go all out... and I thought it was kinda funny

  8. Yes: lay is a synonym of place.

  9. I like the way you think! Although, I try not to wear my favorites as often as I want so I don't wear them out.

  10. My favorite shirt is my PR shirt. I hope it lasts through many more washes. The only shirts I dislike - the ones that never did fit.

  11. Present tense: Lay is an action on a direct object. You Lay down the shirt. Lie is when you Lie down on the softa. So perhapy lying around? or how about stacked on a shelf? I finally figured out the present tense... My motivation, writing down my schedule and sticking to it as closely as I can! As for race shirts, if they fit crappy they go in the Goodwill bag, if they are too big they go to my husband, if I like 'em I wear 'em and remember the good and bad parts of the race.


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