The Nerd Herd

Nerds Write

Medal Monday – Illinois Marathon Relay 2010

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Welcome to Medal Monday! This is where we share with you our favorite or not-so-favorite medals earned over the years and the stories behind them. Feel free to share your own medal memories with us by emailing Nerd Erinn at erinn@thenerdherd.info. Maybe YOUR Medal Monday memory will be shared here!

Somewhere in the boxes in my basement, I have a box of nothing but old medals and ribbons from my 10 years of competitive swimming. I remember lovingly displaying them in my childhood bedroom, a reminder of my 6 a.m. practices before school, the hours of back and forth in the pool, the thrill of competition. Those medals no longer have the same impact they once did, and I blame running medals. Maybe because as an adult my job is no longer student and athlete, but as an employee. Maybe because now when I finally do get out to run it is no longer about what place I get, but the fact that I get to finish at all. Or maybe it is because running medals are bigger and fancier than my old swimming medals. Whatever the reason, I have them now displayed in my home office to remind me that I am getting to do something awesome.

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Nerd Erinn asked us to write about some of our favorite running medals for Medal Monday, and what better place to start but at the very beginning. I started running because of the first Illinois Marathon Weekend, back in 2009. co-workers and I volunteered on the race course by helping the police direct traffic. It was an eye opening experience, watching world class athletes running past, then some other speedy runners, and then those of every shape and color and fitness level. A co- worker and I both agreed that we could do the marathon relay. Running is for everyone! After all, I used to swim five miles a day! She ran track in high school! We could certainly run 1/4th of a marathon! Maybe a normal person would run a 5k to start their running career. Nah, we decided six or seven miles was the way to go.

Seven months later I started my training, and I struggled through one mile. In fact, I struggled through every long run for five months. A five-mile long run had me napping my afternoons away. When I finally lined up to take the second leg of the marathon relay for a go, I was ready. Luckily, I got to sleep in my own bed, and my starting point was Meijer in Urbana, just a few miles from my house.

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Even the littlest of family members came out to cheer.

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Sister Lindsey and niece Madeline show their support of Aunt Ra Ra

I had a great cheering section, with my family traveling south from my hometown to cheer me on for all of one minute as I ran past them in Campustown.

Just shy of seven miles, my leg of the race took me past my old University of Illinois dorm, my apartments, through the very campus that I love so much. It was emotional. It was awesome. It convinced me that I needed to run my first half marathon, where I met some fellow nerds. The rest is history!

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Sara runs past her former dorm.

For those interested, the Illinois Marathon weekend is April 20-22. More information can be found here.

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