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August 24, 2008

Sign of the Times

(Admin note: as predicted, I've got a few more loose ends to tie up before moving on from this month's 100-miler. This will be the final Headlands post before getting back to business as usual, I promise.)

“Come mothers and fathers throughout the land –
And don't criticize what you can't understand -
Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command –
Your old road is rapidly agin'.
Please get out of the new one if you can't lend your hand –
For the times they are a-changin'.”

-Bob Dylan, “The Times They Are A-Changin’”

Before you get the wrong idea – this post won't incite any sort of social protest: it's about the minor, but somewhat symbolic changing of the guard around my house in the wake of this month’s Headlands 100. (But in my defense, there's never really a bad reason for including what might be the best song lyrics of all time.)

Anyway ... back to the event. One of the items included in our goodie bag on race morning was this:

It’s your standard-fare plastic license plate frame produced by many races and athletic companies. I’ve had other ones given to me in the past, and they usually go into the recycling bin very shortly thereafter. If PCTR had been charging for them, I almost certainly wouldn’t have bought one.

But since I got this one for free, and since I had such a great experience there, and since I feel like I’m headed down a new road of sorts … I went ahead and put the frame on my car. But that’s only half of the story.

The second, more important half involves the plate that my new frame replaced:

It’s a Big Sur Marathon frame that I actually paid for, more than ten years ago.

The frame was placed during a phase in my life when the Big Sur Marathon meant everything to me. It was the race that defined me as a runner, the one that I built each year’s race schedule around, the one that preoccupied my thoughts during almost every single training session.

Over a period of more than a dozen years, Big Sur gave me my greatest challenges, my greatest joy, and my proudest moments as an athlete. I attached a far greater portion of my identity than I’m willing to admit to my participation and performance in that race. Back then, if anybody had told me that there would be a day when I voluntarily walked away from the Big Sur Marathon, I would have called him insane.

But now, that old road seems rapidly aging. I skipped Big Sur this year in order to concentrate on my buildup to Western States, and I’m 99.9% certain to skip it again in 2009. What’s surprising to me is that I don’t feel one bit of remorse for this change of focus. I guess the lesson here is that having a passion for events is OK, as long as it doesn’t blind you to other opportunities that may come along later.

Finally, I received the following item in the mail this week:

It’s a ceramic coaster - my award for finishing the Headlands 100.

Apparently the PCTR race directors have earned more belt buckles than they know what to do with – so in order to spare novice 100-mile runners like me the same awful fate, they purposely don’t award buckles. Um … OK then. I suppose I should be grateful. At least, that's what I keep telling myself.

So I’m now the very proud owner of a new ceramic coaster. It’s pretty cool looking, I guess. But as I stared at it a bit more, another thought occurred to me: it’s really not that much bigger or heavier than a belt buckle. If I slapped some glue on the back and attached it to some kind of strap, don't you think I could strut with it around my waist for a day or two?

Sure, people will think I’m an idiot … but at least they’ll know I’m an idiot who can run 100 miles.


Philip 8/24/08, 10:05 PM  

I got a coaster and a matching mug (for finishing 1st in my age group) at PCTR's SF One Day race in 2006. I don't use the coaster anymore, but I still use the coffee mug at work everyday.

21stCenturyMom 8/24/08, 10:43 PM  

Too funny - I think that coaster would look smashing on you!

Jamie 8/25/08, 5:24 AM  

No buckle?! Interesting. Congrats on... coastering?

Anne 8/25/08, 5:33 AM  

Isn't that like running your very first road race and discovering they gave out water bottles instead of T-shirts to celebrate your accomplishment?

Deene 8/25/08, 8:48 AM  

that's kind of cool looking..maybe you could wear it like a heavy dog tag before permanently replacing one the tiles in your shower with it.

Anonymous,  8/25/08, 2:04 PM  

Do they have a 1,000 mile Coaster Club? Really, a coaster is far more practical than a big old buckle you're not likely to wear anyway. Besides, the coaster is customized - whereas the buckle would just say the race name and nothing about you and the fact that you didn't just break 24 hours; you smashed the 23 hour barrier!

Runner Susan 8/25/08, 2:19 PM  

YES! Belt buckle it, I say. A little gorilla glue and you are on your way.

Backofpack 8/25/08, 3:46 PM  

Saw lots of buckles at CCC yesterday...some coffee cups too, and cool prints....no coasters though. So, what's next?

rick 8/25/08, 5:13 PM  

I'm for the buckle myself, I like collecting them. They make for a neat sovenir being metal and all. I have no big need for the coasters, although my favorite at the moment and has been since May is my Mt. Diablo 50-mile coaster.

Well it seems like you continue to break new ground. It's hard to miss the marathon when you're excited about bigger, newer things. I'm sure Big Sur is proud of you too:)

David 8/25/08, 5:43 PM  

I think you could but a tile backsplash up in your bar and center the coaster right in the middle for special effect.
Noble reward, no matter what it is.

angie's pink fuzzy 8/25/08, 6:58 PM  

do it! make the belt, then wear it in public & take a photo. then post it on the blog so we can see :)

RunBubbaRun 8/25/08, 8:24 PM  

Woohoo a coaster, at least you can have it out during a dinner party, and be source of conversation..

Yeah, put a clip on the back, and wear it..

I think they do might to have to change that to a buckle in the future.. Hopefully they gave out a nice race shirt at least.

Thomas 8/26/08, 5:37 AM  

A coaster. And I though buckles were strange!

triguyjt 8/26/08, 11:42 AM  

i agree..make it a quasi belt buckle...what the heck.....

and of course next year, you will earn the buckle to end all buckles when you finish ws100

a coaster??/wow

Anonymous,  8/26/08, 1:31 PM  

A coaster? Really? Man, you must have been an odd number. Even numbers got brand new Lexus sedans. What a drag.

Disclosure: Wendell & Sarah are friends of mine

HH is hardly the only 100 out there that doesn't do buckles. At least with HH, that information is right there on the web site before you sign up. No one should finish that race and be surprised there is no buckle waiting for them. We've got enough 50-100 mile carnivals in Northern California. PCTR deliberately put on a race that's a little different, a little low-key. They serve that part of the running community a little less concerned with schwag, and they make it affordable without the benefit of massive amounts of sponsorship.

If the experience means something to you, the keepsake shouldn't matter. You've just explained rather beautifully why Big Sur has meant so much to you over the years, but you were satisfied (apparently) with a "standard-fare plastic license plate frame" as a memento. I've had buckles, plastic statues, license plate frames, good and bad jackets... hell, I've even "won" a cardigan (yes, a CARDIGAN) so ugly my daughter told me I'd better not wear it when I'm with her. It all means something to me because I can look at it and remember the run behind it. And that's what counts most to me.

I've got a small collection of PCTR coasters. I'm looking at one now.


Rainmaker 8/26/08, 8:03 PM  

I think you should make it your own belt buckle like you said. That'd be totally awesome! And original.

Alberto,  8/27/08, 6:24 PM  

Maybe you can put the coaster in your kitchen or bathroom when you retile

Journey to a Centum 8/28/08, 10:00 AM  

If you glue buckle hardware to the back of the coaster it's going to mess up your tables when you go to use it with an ice cold beer under it.

You failed to do your Race Bling due diligence. As a Bling runner it's a part of my checklist as I consider signing up for a race.

At Plain they take a rock from the course and write Plain 100 on it with a sharpie. You pay $65.00 for the race that has no trail marking, no aid stations, and a rock that you could pick up along the trail as you ran. On average only 14% of those who start the race actually finish. Some years their have been no finishers. If I finish I'll take the rock and display it proudly in my drawer with all the other stuff.

robtherunner 8/28/08, 9:50 PM  

I'm a buckle fan as well. Might be a good reason to come run CC100 next year. Lots of goodies from this race. We got a great technical shirt, nice coffee mug, limited edition print from Leah Jurek (Notice the last name) and of course the buckle. And you saw the pictures of the course.

Dori 9/5/08, 3:10 PM  

I think you should glue a magnet to the back of it and put it on your refrigerator. :-)

Downhillnut 9/16/08, 7:22 AM  

I don't suppose the coaster would work as a zipper-pull on a jacket or your workout bag. How dare they not give you something to WEAR?

At least you have a license plate thingie. It's saying a lot that it has replaced the Big Sur one.

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