Jump-start your running or walking routine: sign up for a race!

My kiddos Timothy and Bethie and their friends Timothy and Monica, mug for the camera with my big brother Mark and my little Mack and me.

My kiddos Timothy and Bethie and their friends Timothy and Monica, mug for the camera with my big brother Mark and my little boy Mack, and me.  Here we are trying to stay warm before the Living History Farms Off-Road Race in Des Moines, Iowa.

You are a runner, or maybe you used to be.  Or . . . you’re a walker but have fallen off your routine, because of a new baby in your family, or lousy weather, or an injury, or your life got a little busy for such a frivolous activity, or whatever. In any case, you’re looking for some compelling reason to get back out there–besides the obvious ones:

1.  Exercise is the fountain of youth, and benefits you inside and out,

2.  Getting out there and running or walking every day is fun, doggonit, or

3. You’ll live longer if you get out and exercise every day, and will feel better while you’re living, too, or maybe:

4.  You do most of your work at the computer and you need to get out of the house for your mental health!  And if that’s not enough, there’s this one:

5.  There are many, many events that are designed as fund-raisers for worthy causes:  you can get in shape and make money for your favorite charity or cause!  Now that’s a win-win!

Need I continue?  No, I needn’t–there are plenty of websites and piles of books which can give you the statistics for why you ought to exercise every day, whether it’s in the form of a good brisk walk, a daily run, or an exercise routine with some dude on a DVD, well, that’s for you to choose!

But if you do aspire to get your exercise in in the form of a run or a walk, take heart!  There’s a great way to get this done:  Sign up for a run or a race.

Little Mack drew this poster to encourage my brother Mark, who ran his first half-marathon in May.  (The little figure on the right is Mark.)

Little Mack drew this poster to encourage my brother Mark, who ran his first half-marathon in May. (The little figure on the right is Mark. Mack said that the stars indicated speediness, not pain.)

I don’t know about you, but I have trouble with motivation once the weather starts to get suspicious.  I love to get out and walk and run when the weather is fine, when the sky is blue and the clouds are fluffy, and the landscape is full of wildflowers and bunny rabbits and birdsong.  But when it gets windy, or hot, or cold, or whatever . . . you see my problem . . . I’m not so faithful.  I’m rather a fickle runner, depending on the weather and other conditions.  But when I’ve signed up for a race . . . and that date is circled on the calendar . . . I’m a different animal.  I get motivated.  I get organized.  I can fit that daily run in, no matter what.  I am a beast, as they say. Why the big change?

Simply put, I don’t want to die on race day.  Nor do I want to be the last one trudging along at the end, merely because I wasn’t organized enough, or motivated enough, or because I was afraid of a little wind, to prepare for the race.  No, thank you.

Still not convinced?  I’ll tell you about my race year, and maybe that’ll tip you off that fence you’re sitting on.

I try to sign up for 4 or 5 races each year.  My running year starts by preparing for the Bee Buzz Run, in Bee, Nebraska.  I wish you all could take part in this race, but it is located in Bee, a tiny town not far from where we live.  A tiny town named after a honey-making insect.  They have a beautiful old opera house there, a roundhouse, and the proceeds from that run go towards the renovation efforts.  I love the idea of renovating that beautiful and unique old building, and I love the fact that the entire town comes out to participate.  I adore the fact that there’s an accordion player playing polkas, sitting on his pick-up bed, at the half-way point, and since the run takes place in early spring in the early morning, it’s almost always foggy.

Can’t you just picture this?  You’re running through the fog, and you hear the sound of an accordion attracting you, urging you to keep running.  It’s a superlative experience, not something you get to do every day, mind you.

So I love everything about this race.  But perhaps what I love best about it is that dozens of smiling volunteers (what do they call the inhabitants of Bee, I wonder:  Bee-ites? Buzzers?) serve a massive hot breakfast, in the old roundhouse itself, afterwards, and you can eat as much as you like. And boy, does it taste good after an early-morning 4-mile run!  You can choose from homemade pancakes, sausages, bacon, hot coffee, breakfast casseroles, breakfast pizzas, biscuits with sausage gravy, and much more.  See why I have such fond feelings about this race?

Last year most of my extended family joined us in participating in the Bee Buzz.

Last year most of my extended family joined us in participating in the Bee Buzz Run. I am the one in the turquoise shirt clear on the left, with the o’er-flushed cheeks and the wobbly knees.

In May is the Lincoln Half-Marathon, which I aspire to run but haven’t, yet.  I watch jealously, though, as my big brother Mark and my daughter Bethany and many friends run it every year.  Last year I trained but injured myself, so I could only watch.  But it looks to be an awesome and a very encouraging event.  Maybe next year I’ll get in there!

Here is my brother Mark and a friend running the Lincoln Half-Marathon.

Here is my brother Mark and a friend taking a walking break during the Lincoln Half-Marathon.

I’ve got to point out that (with the proper company) it is almost as much fun to watch these races as it is to run them.  So if you are injured or just want to cheer somebody else on, do it!  It’s fun and you’ll get an idea of what fun you’re going to have next year when you participate!

Here my sister Anne, daughter Bethany, and sister Mollie seem to be having way too much fun as we cheer Mark on!

Here my sister Anne, daughter Bethany, and sister Mollie seem to be having way too much fun as we cheer Mark on!

In August, during our hometown Fun Days, I run the 4-mile Fun Run.  This used to be a small event, but it has grown and is a pretty big deal these days.  Several of my family members and friends run and walk it, and there is a decent sausage-and-pancake breakfast afterwards, which benefits the local volunteer fire department.

Once I’ve recovered from the Fun Run, I start to plan (and train) for my favorite race:  the Living History Farms Off-Road Race.  I could write an entire blog post about this race.  We did it last year for the first time, and we had a blast!  Even better, it forced me to train through a part of the year where I oftentimes slack off:  the fall and early winter.

These fellas showed up for the photo ops, I think.  I never did see them running. So, hmph.

These fellas showed up for the photo ops, I think. I never did see them running. So, hmph.

The race takes place on the grounds of Living History Farms in Des Moines, Iowa.  It is seven miles through the farms, over fields, through the woods, and through several icy creeks.  It may sound torturous, but it’s really great.  Lots of people dress in costumes, and it is pure fun.  It’s a little crowded, though, and you have to sign up early to get in!

Here is the crush of runners, and the crush of watchers, at the Living History Farms Run.

Here is the crush of runners, and the crush of watchers, at the Living History Farms Run.

It’s held the weekend before Thanksgiving.  It can be pretty cold in Des Moines the weekend before Thanksgiving.  So far we’ve been lucky to participate when the weather has been unseasonably warm.  (Phew!)

Here we are crossing one of the creeks--brrrr!  It was cold!  That's me in the turquoise shirt and the jaunty-yet-athletic-and-quirky striped hat in the middle.

Here we are crossing one of the creeks–brrrr! It was cold! That’s me in the turquoise shirt and the jaunty-yet-athletic-and-quirky striped hat in the middle.

So that’s it, folks!  There are lots of reasons to sign up for a race this year.  It’s fun, it gets you out there taking care of your body like you should, and you’ll make many wonderful memories doing it!

Have you participated in a memorable event that you’d like to share?  Leave a comment in the box below, and I’ll include more events in the next post I write about races.

Now get out there, you crazy reader, you, and get moving!

9 thoughts on “Jump-start your running or walking routine: sign up for a race!

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Francine,
      Thanks for taking a look! I’m proud of you for getting out there with your walker and all! It’ll do your body good ! 😉

  1. Beth

    Hey Amy,
    As a scrapbooker I am thinking about all the ways you could scrap those lovely photos of you and your family. I am not a runner, I never have been except for highschool when I was on the basketball team and I had to run for conditioning. Now that I am in my 30’s I realize that I need to become more active and I am working on getting that motivation up so that I can start exercising.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Beth,
      It’s great fun to just grab a family member or a friend and just get out there and WALK and most community runs include lots of groups of walkers. Thanks for reading! Plus–I guess I didn’t mention this in the article, but it is quite contagious. That Bee Buzz Race that I ran in–the first year, only three of our large extended family ran in it. We had such a good time, the next year over 20 of us did it. This year, nobody will miss it! Blessings–

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Corinne, I can tell you that every shape and size is represented at these races! They usually plan carefully to have the competitive runners in the front, with the slower ones and the walkers in the back, so the walkers or the joggers don’t get run over by the really speedy ones. It’s a great experience and I’d encourage you to just get out there and try one!

    2. dramamamafive Post author

      Corinne, at most races there are many levels of runners and walkers. Usually they’ll group the REAL runners in the front, and the slower joggers and walkers in the back. Trust me, I’ve seen every shape and size of participant, and I admire and appreciate each one for making the effort! Go on and don’t wait to get in on it!

  2. Aletha McManama

    Amy, you’ve pegged me on this post! I am that “slacker” that quit her running routine right before Thanksgiving and she’s just been busy ever since! My husband asked me this morning if I started exercising this week. He knew I had not, but he just wanted to just get a “rise” out of me because I know I haven’t been working on getting back into my routine. Thanks for the encouragement in getting back into what I enjoy more than sleep…running! 🙂

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Aletha, the first time I ran the Living History Farms Race (in November) was a light-bulb experience for me. Ah-HA! If I schedule a race during the winter, I WILL RUN in the winter! It feels so good to stay in shape during the winter. Thanks for reading!

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