And the Oscar Goes to…

PSRedCarpet5KSMAs I crossed the finish line of the Palm Springs International Film Festival Red Carpet Run 5K last weekend, all I could hear above the din of Billy Idol rocking in my ears was….”blah blah blah….blah blah…Aaronson…blah blah garble….Santa Barbara!”

Although I wasn’t seeing stars or feeling like I was about to puke from pushing myself way beyond my limits, I was in a happy endorphin daze, having just run a solid race while sporting a tiara and a tutu.

How could I not be happy? It was a fabulously silly way to start the new year.

Walking down the finisher’s Red Carpet, I was handed an Oscar and greeted with huge smiles and multiple, “Congratulations!” I kept thinking, Geez, these people are soooo friendly here. It was then I finally took my earbuds out and asked the guy next to me who was sporting a tuxedo shirt, “Did you happen to hear what the announcer just said when I crossed the finish line?”

“Are you kidding?” he laughed. “She said YOU WON! You were the first female finisher!”

“Seriously?” I croaked while looking around suspiciously, wondering if I was being punked.

“Seriously,” he said as he high-fived me.

What a hoot! It turns out that, yes indeed, I did win! I had no idea, especially since it wasn’t one of my fastest races. I figured there must have been at least a handful, if not a dozen women ahead of me, but apparently I was in my own little happy bubble, oblivious to what was going on around me. All I know is that I ran neck in neck with a lady wearing a tiara and a green and yellow Oregon Ducks getup for nearly the entire race, until finally pulling ahead of her with about three-quarters of a mile to go.

As you might have guessed, this race was purely about fun for me. My only goal was to enjoy my run and see where I was at with my fitness. After two months of letting my body recover from a frustrating litany of overuse nonsense, I came to the starting line with zero expectations. Perhaps that’s why this race was so much fun.

RedCarpetTuxedosOr it could have been the Elvis impersonator…or the most remarkable rendition of the Star Spangled Banner I’ve ever heard, sung by the Palm Springs Gay Mens Choir, or the race director who was wearing a full length gown and fur, or the champagne glasses filled with yummy pink stuff, or a race course that sent us zooming past a dozen or more iconic celebrity homes (think Dino, Marilyn, and Frank). Or it could have been the ridiculous amount of bling, including a tiara, tutu or tuxedo shirt given out in every race bag. Or maybe it was the adorableness of the canine division, or the photo booth opps or the karaoke and costume contests. These people know how to party!

The funny part is that I was in Palm Springs last weekend for just that…a party to celebrate my adorable mother-in-law, Geraldine (Gee Gee), who was turning 90 (how amazing is that?!!).

My plan was to quietly zip out the door in the morning before she woke up, do the race, and return before her celebration breakfast. I hadn’t even told Gee Gee I was doing a race because last weekend was meant to be all about her. The problem is that when you win, they want you to stick around for the special awards ceremony to honor you with all your bling. I waited for a while, and even had my picture taken with Elvis and Marilyn, but finally told the race director I needed to skedaddle.

“Of course you need to go!” she said in between announcing 10K finishers. “I totally understand, but before you go, do me a favor…along with your trophy, please be sure to take a tiara for your mother-in-law, and one for your beautiful daughter. And wish your mother-in-law a big Happy Birthday!”

Did I mention how nice everybody is at this race? If you happen to be in Palm Springs next January during Film Fest, I highly recommend you join the fun! Here are a few pictures from the race…and here’s a link to the Palm Springs Marathon Runner’s website with race info. (click on the link).

RedCarpetRun5KFinishSM
I’m not sure if the guy next to me is sneezing, howling, crying out in pain or singing Hallelujah!

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Winning

Photo of Vicki's 3000m winner's shirt

“Winning isn’t always victory, losing isn’t always defeat.” ~Unknown

A few weeks ago I participated in a local 3000m race at Westmont College called Vicki’s 3000, named in honor of Special Olympics athlete, Vicki Paulsen. It was part of the Santa Barbara Athletic Association’s Grand Prix race series, which I’m participating in this year, and it was organized to help raise funds for the Special Olympics.

I have to admit I was apprehensive about racing in this event because I was still nursing a strained quad from the previous week’s State Street Mile. More to the point, I was dreading running 1.8 miles on the track because the track and I have yet to become BFFs.

Over the years she’s tried to lure me to her soft red surface, but then she’s either immediately bored me to death or kicked my ass, or both. I’ve been working hard to wrap my arms around speedwork and embrace the joys of the oval, but it has been a slooooww process.

This race may have finally changed my attitude.

I had a blast!

And I won my age group and received the awesome tank top you see in the picture above!

This shirt represents much more than winning my age group and running a PR though (it’s easy when your competitors aren’t able to show up and you’ve never run this distance before).

This is what this shirt really represents to me:

1) Being surrounded by a running community of WINNERS. In my mind, winning is about giving your best, and about lifting others up so they can also give their best. There’s no more supportive running community than Santa Barbara. You might disagree if you live somewhere else, but come here and experience what I’m talking about and you’ll soon be nodding in agreement.

Photo of Becky Aaronson during Vicki's 3000m race at Westmont College This race was a perfect example of what I’m talking about. Vicki’s 3000 was divided into four self-seeded heats, with the elite runners going last. While I was busy running “pedal to the metal” 7 1/2 laps around the track, several elite runners were gracious enough to toss advice my way as they warmed up for their race. Simple reminders from people like Monica DeVreese and Nash Jimenez made such a difference in keeping my focus on the right things:

“Run from your core.”
“Lean into the corners”
“Keep your rhythm.”
“Watch your posture!”
“Use your arms.”
“Stride it out.”

2) This shirt also represents being completely wrapped in “running love” during this race–from the moment we took off to the last step across the finish line. Even if I had come in dead last, I would have still felt like a WINNER because everybody made me (and everybody else) feel like a rock star. I must have heard my name 50 times in the span of 13 minutes. Especially heartening was hearing all the kids I coach cheering, “Good job, Coach Becky!” “Way to go, Coach Becky!”

Photo of Vickis 3000 20143) It also represents seeing so many of those same kiddos excel in this event. Our running community is WINNING BIG because it is now offering more and more opportunities for kids to join running clubs and participate in numerous races all throughout the year. The SBAA’s Jr. Grand Prix race series is making a huge difference with this. Seeing these kids’ spirit and unbridled joy lifts us all a few feet of the ground as we witness the next generation of runners falling head over heels for the sport we all love so much. It’s going to be exciting to see where they take all of this as they get older.

Vickis4 copy4) This shirt also reminds me that showing up is always half the battle. There’s no chance of winning or seeing what the possibilities are if you don’t show up. Any time I’m dreading going to the track to do speedwork, or feeling uncertain about a race, I’m going to wear this tanktop, suck it up and remind myself that WINNING is a habit, and habits take hard work and dedication before they form into actions that are automatic and nearly always enjoyable.

5) The topper to this whole morning? Also WINNING a super cool raffle prize–a free whole-body cryotherapy session at CRYOHEALTH, something I’ve been wanting to try for several months. I’ll be sure to tell you all about it after I go into the deep freeze. They say there’s nothing like a -220 F sauna for recovery. We’ll find out! I may never go back to those measly little ice baths again.

CryoSessionPS: Did I mention one of the most exciting things? This sweet little event raised over $850 for Special Olympics in the span of an hour! Now THAT’S winning! Thank you SBAA and Dave and DeAnna Odell for organizing this event, and for being so generous with your time, energy, and raffle prizes!

You are WINNERS!