Ten Things I Like About Running (and training for) Races
Andrew Rich

10) Always having something to do on a beautiful summer evening or weekend morning. And if I’m lucky, a team or a group of friends to run with.

9) Physical fitness benefits. Through running, as well as cross-training and dietary improvements, I’ve worked off nearly 70 pounds since early 2015. I don’t say “lost” because I haven’t lost them. I know where they are. They’re on the trail, on the bike path, in the pool (and in the drive-thru and in the freezer, too, but that’s another blog post).

8) Getting up really, really, really early in the morning to shiver with a bunch of people I don’t know in a cold, windy, probably rainy start corral. You’d think this would fall under “Ten Things I Hate About Running Races” but after the first, uh, fifteen or twenty times, it really grows on you.

7) The extensive collection of tech shirts I’ve acquired. Also a few hoodies, promo shirts, hats… Basically I never have to shop for training clothes.

6) Travel. I’ve visited so many exciting places when traveling for races! Just in the last couple of years, I’ve made it to Vegas, Montreal, Brooklyn, Mexico City, Vancouver BC and many more. Whenever I travel for a race, I like to stay in a hotel or Airbnb that’s, ideally, walking-distance from the start/finish line and race expo — if possible. I try to take advantage of public transit, depending on the city, and fall-back to Lyft/Uber when I have to. And I always make a point of hitting up the local hotspots for food and drink — I love brewpubs and casual/late-night dining.

5) Bling! What race is complete without a big chunk of metal around your neck at the finish? Race companies have really stepped up their designs in the last several years, making the medals both larger and more elaborate. I’ve set up a medal display using an IKEA kitchen rail system in a hallway in my house and it’s growing.

4) More bling! A recent trend in races is combo medals — run a certain selection of races and earn a special medal, or earn more medals for running more races in a certain amount of time like a calendar year. The Giant Race is onboard with the Turn Two, Three-Bagger and Series Sweep bonus awards; plus, for running Bay to Breakers, the SF Marathon and Bridge to Bridge in addition to the Giant Race, I’ll earn this sweet piece of hardware:

3) That feeling when you’re running and you’re completely warmed up and your fueling is perfect and your hydration is on point and your feet feel great and the road is clear ahead and you feel like you could just go forever.

2) Personal bests. Since my first half marathon, the Avenue of the Giants in 2012, I’ve improved my endurance/fitness/running form. In fits and starts with some backsliding, to be sure. But I finished that first race in 2:45. Last year, as my weight dropped, so did my finish times: I went from 2:37 (Rock ’n’ Roll Portland) to 2:20 (Giant Race) to 2:07 (Rock ’n’ Roll Vancouver). This year my goal is to break two hours, and I’m close: 2:03 at the Capitola Half in May. Another kind of personal best is running long, whether distance or time. Earlier this summer I did the Brazen Dirty Dozen, a twelve-hour at-your-own-pace trail run, and achieved my first ultra-marathon distance. And in just a few weeks I’ll run the Pike’s Peak Ascent, a half-marathon that starts at 8,000 feet and finishes at the top of the highest mountain in the continental United States, over 14,000 feet.

1) The people I meet! I’ve met so many terrific folks at race expos, start lines, finish lines, and of course online via social media. Many of them have become close friends and run buddies. As a natural introvert, I’m surprised but happy at how this has turned out for me. Need a little more social in your social life? Join a local running club (many running shops sponsor clubs), or an online training group and plan to meet up at a destination race like the Giant Race!

- Andrew Rich, @ smartwatermelon
The Starting Nine

Race with Andrew & the rest of the Starting Nine Ambassador Team on September 11, 2016: reserve your spot today