Monday, October 3, 2016

10 Years of Running: My 10 Favorite Medals

December 1 will mark 10 years since I became a runner instead of a smoker and changed my life. On the way to that 10th runnerversary, I am going to celebrate with an occasional top 10 post.

My 10 Favorite Medals | My 10 Favorite Bibs | My 10 Favorite Shoes

10. Miami Marathon, 2012. It's a humongous No. 10, so naturally I have to include it here at No. 10. This formalized a new era of "spinner" medals, as the palm trees whoosh through the medal like a warm Biscayne Bay breeze. It was a hard-fought medal, because around mile 17 I tipped over in someone's front yard due to ITB that suddenly stole my stride. Because of that, I got the back engraved: OVERCOME ANYTHING.







9. St. Louis, 2008. My boys were all there waiting for me at the finish line, two years after I had moved from St. Louis to NYC due to my new MLB role, and I was so glad to have them there. My mission and purpose with running had been to make sure I stay healthy and live as long as possible to enjoy life with my kids -- still is -- and set a positive example for them of healthy living and goal achievement. There is nothing cool about the design of this medal, but that meaning makes it special.





8. Fort Lauderdale, 2013. I don't think any race obsesses over its medal more than this one! It's all I heard about, before, during and after the marathon. Best medal, best medal! Well, this particular year, the "theme" of the Publix Fort Lauderdale A1A Marathon was seahorses. The special twist was a sort of amulet in the center that opened, revealing palm trees inside. The only problem was that my amulet, as with that of some other runners', was defective and broke off. The race director, to his credit, was livid with the firm that produced his designed medal, and he sent a replacement by mail later. It is easily the heaviest medal I own and I can't ever imagine a heavier one in the future.



7. Los Angeles, 2014. When Deena Kastor hands you your medal, it is going to mean something! I was part of the ASICS LA Marathon Blogger Challenge Team that year, flown out with Lisa and Rachel and given the VIP treatment all weekend. I sprinted the last mile, helping another runner finish, and Deena was among ASICS elites who greeted us at the end. It was a scorcher, and that medal was earned!







6. Hamptons, 2014. Honestly, if I have one "most beautiful medal" in my collection, this is it. My Hamptons Marathon bling is like a stained glass window. I admired it for a long time.



5. Maratona di Roma. I would be lying if I said this was a glorious finish, because the cobblestones destroyed my feet, there was an unexpected long uphill tunnel toward the end, and there was a long and frustrating trek to find my bag-check truck. Respiratory problems at the start of the year had set me back in training and I was overweight. But all of that agony kind of washed away when I asked someone to please take my picture holding the medal with the Colosseum behind me. I was a gladiator, just like the ones I channeled for the entire 26.2 miles. I survived. And this medal reminds me I did.





4. Oklahoma City Half, 2007. My first running medal.



3. New Jersey, 2009. It's funny because out of all my medals, this is the one that I really don't ever remember receiving. Someone put it around my neck after I crossed the finish line, but I was focused on the bling that was in my hand. I got down on my knee and asked Lisa, who was waiting there next to the medals person, and I asked her to marry me. She said yes. So we both got a new accessory. The New Jersey Marathon also had the added touch of a little pin affixed to the ribbon.







2. Marathon de Paris, 2012. Mais oui! This medal has grown on me ever since I received it beside the Arc de Triomphe. It is my lightest-weight medal, with not much of a ribbon, and it didn't feel that substantial at the time for such an immense event -- capping my first trip to Europe. It kind of felt like a popcorn garland on a Christmas tree at the time: quaint, not really bling. But I soon realized that it carried over the tradition of the Tour de France, an event run by the same sports body that runs Marathon de Paris. And every time I look at it now, it reminds me of running alongside the Seine, posing for a Mile 16 picture le Tour d'Eiffel, such beauty and magic. Je t'aime, Paris!



1. New York City Marathon, 2007. This is my Honus Wagner card in the collection. When I quit smoking and started running at the end of 2006, I gradually increased my mileage, ran the Manhattan Half in January 2006, and soon after that I decided that I would set an outrageous goal of running a marathon within my first year of running. Today it's not that uncommon, but in 2007 it was kind of crazy. This medal is the fruit of that labor. My first marathon was marred by plantar fasciitis that forced me to land on a different spot on my foot every step for the last 14 miles, but I made it, looked up at my Dad in heaven as I neared the finish line, and danced across the finish line, receiving this.



What's your favorite medal? How do you display bling? Let's discuss in the comments!

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