Mind, Motion & Matter

Running, Essentially . . .

Guest blogger, Chung-Yee Loo on race hardware

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The longer I run, the more I discover that while we runners are similar in many ways, our approach to our sport can be as varied as our numbers. In putting the spotlight on my friend Chung-Yee, I can’t help but recall an encounter with a former team mate at a race, an age-group competitor who inevitably places first in his age-category. He complained that there seems to be less merchandise for age-group competitors and only “stupid old medals”.  Enter Chung-Yee, running adventurer extraordinaire and her lovely tale of what she does with her hard-won finisher medals. Three cheers for Chung-Yee and Happy Thanksgiving to all!

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Treasures in a salad bowl and a tea biscuit tin box
Originally posted on Chung-Yee’s Facebook page

When people find out that I run, they always ask a set of similar questions:

“Have you run a marathon?” Yes.

“Have you run Boston?” No, not yet. I am too young to run Boston. At this point, I have to explain to them that with my average finishing time at 4 hours and 45 minutes, I would have to be 70 years old before I could qualify to run Boston.

“What do you do with your t-shirts and medals?”

Most t-shirts go to Goodwill or various charities. I do keep a few technical shirts which the fit, design and colour make me look good. A girl has to look good while running. I also keep shirts that have sentimental value. The ones from the New York City Marathons – the experiences there were just awesome and the memories running through all five boroughs are just as vivid now as they were a decade ago. Another is the Marine Corp Marathon’s finisher shirt and baseball cap that I was wearing on my way back to the hotel after the race, when a marine said that he is an awe of my strength. “Huh?” was the only answer that I had enough energy to express. “You are still standing straight and upright.” Awe now, how could I not respond with a smile:-)

As for the finisher medals, I keep them a salad bowl. I used to hang them on a door knob, then on “over-the-door” racks. But as I ran more races each year, I had this vision that the weight of my medals would yank off the top half of the door. The salad bowl I use now is clear and transparent with leafy motifs, and it is made from plastic so the container does not weigh much. However, it is a different story with my finisher medals … it weighs a ton. I do take the medals out of the salad bowl, especially during “mental health days”, and place them on my counter to remind myself of those accomplishments and how I persevered through whatever obstacles that could come about during epic challenges. Most of the time though, the medals stay in the salad bowl, just visible enough to inspire myself to continue to run.

Every single race I have entered, I have recorded my results on the back of the race bib and have saved those bibs in a tea biscuit tin box. This simple box, from the Hudson Bay Holiday treat collection, was given to me by a good friend Aggie who I affectionately call “Mrs. Claus” because she looks like Mrs. Claus and she volunteers as Mrs. Claus for the Children’s Aid Society. It seems fitting that this box stores a continuous record of my running career.

Aggie is in her seventh decade but she has the energy of someone more than half her age. Over the years, she has been an active volunteer for local races and I always look for her behind the registration desks or at the medical tent at the finish line (she is a registered nurse). I could always count on her words and hugs of encouragement. With support from Aggie, I hope to continue to run into my seventh decade, and hopefully by then, I could qualify to run the Boston Marathon and add that race bib to the tea biscuit tin box collection.

CLICK HERE to read Chung-Yee’s previous post on Mind, Motion & Matter called Celebrating 40 on My Own Terms.

Thou who hast given so much to me, give me one more thing – a grateful heart!

George Herbert

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