The Challenge of Completing 40 Races at 40 in 2012 by Kelly
It was early January 2012, Joe, first announced the idea of running 40 races. As Joe was approaching his birthday on January 10, he mentioned that he was thinking of running in 40 races as a way to celebrate his 40th birthday. My 40th birthday wasn’t until July, but it sounded like a good idea at the time, so I agreed to complete the challenge with him. Our only rule for the challenge was we could complete any races distance as long as the race had official results.
Our first race was the Houston half-marathon in January, which was an excellent race to start the challenge. Not only did we get to run a race, but we also witnessed the men’s and women’s marathon Olympic Trials. This was the first time in history that the men’s and women’s marathon Olympic trials were held in the same city on the same weekend. It was very exciting watching both races and seeing who would be representing the USA in the Olympics.
We didn’t run any races in February and started to panic as March rolled around, so we signed up for three races. About this time, Joe’s track season at the Junior High started, which ruled out any Saturday races. I was able to complete four races in April and four races in May. Joe could only complete five races in those two months as he found it difficult to find Sunday races.
Joe and I both ran five races in June; however, only three of those were together as Joe spent two weeks in Eugene, Oregon volunteering at the Track and Field Olympic Trials.
July was a rough month for me. I ran seven races (one 1 mile, four 5K’s, one 10K, and one half-marathon). I should mention that in my previous 12 years of running, I had only completed 80 races, which translates to an average of 6-7 races per year. I had now run more races in one month than I typically run in a year. I also am not a fan of running in the heat, so those races were a struggle to complete. At this point, I was questioning why I had agreed to this challenge. My favorite race this month was the Main Street Mile in Peoria on my birthday. Not only was it my first 1-mile race, but Joe’s parents, sister, and niece surprised me by showing up at the start line. Joe’s Dad, Sister, and 6 year old niece also ran the race while Joe’s Mom cheered us on. I was very pleased with my time and my “second place” finish. An interesting side note, three months after the race I received a call from the race director letting me know that I was actually first in my age group. I was informed that the “winner” was a male who wore his wife’s race number. Never, ever, wear someone else’s race number!. Joe had to spend July playing catch-up, so he ran nine races – crazy!
In August, I again worried about not meeting our goal so I ran five races. Joe could only fit in four races because of his work schedule.
By September I was unsure if I could complete the challenge. We had two races scheduled for Labor Day weekend. After Saturday’s race I decided I couldn’t handle another race on Monday. We were at 30 races and I couldn’t fathom running another race. We had also signed up for the Chicago half-marathon the following weekend and we canceled going to that race too. How could I possible run another 10 races? It usually takes me five years to run this many races and we were only in three-quarters of the way to our goal. It was a rough two weeks for me. Fortunately, I had a client and good friend that needed a travel and race partner, so I ran the 5K and went back on the course to pace her through the last half of her 10K. There’s nothing like helping someone else achieve their race goal.
October included a half-marathon sandwiched between two 5Ks. We did the St. Louis half-marathon with several friends and running clients. November included two 5Ks and a 4 mile race, which brought our total to 39 races.
Race number 40 was the Rock n Roll half-marathon in Las Vegas the first weekend in December. I hadn’t completed a run over 10 miles since the St. Louis half-marathon, but the goal of this challenge was always quantity over quality. Any one that knows me knows I don’t get emotional or worked up about racing, but standing at the start of the Las Vegas half-marathon was the biggest sense of relief I have ever felt in a race. There was never a doubt that I wouldn’t finish that race. I couldn’t believe we had actually achieved our goal of completing 40 races in one year. Running the Strip at Night was an awesome way to end the challenge.
I have many friends that run 30+ races a year, but this was not something that was easy for me to complete. To emphasize how challenging this was for me I had completed more 5ks races in 2012 than in my previous 12 years of running.
I teach mathematics at Parkland College, I love numbers, and I’m a geek, so Joe and I kept an excel file of all the data on our challenge. To give you a few of the numbers we recorded: Joe and I drove over 5000 miles and flew over 8000 miles. My official race tally included one 1-mile, twenty-six 5Ks, four 4-milers, one 7K, one 10K, one 8-miler, one 15K, and five half-marathons. I placed in the top three in my age group in 25 of the races and I was the overall female winner in one 5K. Joe completed two 1-milers, twenty-three 5Ks, three 4-milers, one 7K, five 10Ks, one 8-miler, one 15K, and four half-marathons.
Would I ever do this again? No. The time commitment was too great, and the stress of trying to fit in all the races was too much for me. I’m glad I did it, but there were several times when it wasn’t fun. I enjoy running too much to worry about racing.