In this post, I am sharing my personal preference on how to choose my next race. It is definitely not one size fits all. You can make your own criteria to pick your first or your one hundred race.
I go online and Google running races near me. Then, I get a long list of races in my area; I narrow the search into 25 miles or sometimes less within my location. I pick the race distance that I am interested to run, such as 5k, 10k, and half marathon. Moreover, I choose the desired race, navigate their official page to look for the following:
1- The cause for what the race was organized, such as a fundraising event for homeless, orphans, or children.
2- Registration fees. It is reasonable for the fees to be around $25-$30. It also depends on your time of registration. The sooner you register, the cheaper the registration fee is.
3- Availability of free parking area.
4- Medals. Most of the races offer awards to the top three finishers (men and women). Additionally, they offer medals to the top three in each age group. For example, a race may award medals to the top three males in the age group 18-24, 25-29, 30-34 and so on.
5- Pet policy. Some races allow pets to run with their owners. I do not participate in this kind of races for safety and health reasons. Some runners are scared of dogs, and others may be allergic to pets.
6- Finally, the weather on the race day. It is not critical, but I like to be both mentally and physically prepared for my runs.
These are just my criteria on how to choose a race, and my list is not exhaustive.
After two months of contemplation, I decided to participate in a race. I looked online for short runs in the area, and I found the Boathouse run; it was a 5k run. I thought this could be a good start for me this year because I did not join any official race in almost a year. The 5k Boathouse race was on March 2nd, and the expected temperature was around 37 F on that date; for me it was chilly.
There was a big soccer game on that date, but it started one hour before the race time. I drove early to the race site and took my laptop with me. I used my phone hotspot to listen to the soccer game. The good thing was that I could watch the first half of soccer before the race would start. I arrived at the site and parked, while I kept watching the game, which ended 15 minutes before the run. I got out of the car and headed toward the table to pick up my bib and the race shirt. I got back to my car to pin the bib and started warming up right away.
I got to the start line and listed to the organizers to learn more about the rules; the race was a fundraising event for our homeless veterans. I appreciate anything toward our homeless populations.
The organizer whistled and the race started, and so did I. I had a good start and I was in the top 10, but I felt some heaviness in my chest and started coughing; I remembered that I had to use my inhaler when I exercise in the cold weather, but that did not stop me. Although my speed slowed down gradually, I kept running. The ground was muddy and small spots of swamps were along the path. I did not care and I jumped into these spots trying to test my newly purchased shoes.
Toward the end of the race, I pushed hard and increased my speed to pass one of the competitors and I succeeded. After the race, I had some water and a half piece of banana for recovery. I stayed waiting for the results and I came in first in my age group. I got a medal which was my first one this year. Yay!