I Signed Up For A Race And All I Got Was This Lousy Mood Boost

Why signing up for a race that never happened is one of the best things I’ve done for my mental health.

Emily PG Erickson

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Female in yellow jacket running through moss-covered forest
Photo by Greg Rosenke on Unsplash

This April, when the health problems I’d been having resolved, I decided to sign up for the TC Loony Challenge. The Loony is a running race during Twin Cities In Motion Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon Weekend here in Minnesota. The Loony comprises 10k and 5k races back-to-back, followed by a 10-mile race the next day. Three races. Two days. 19.3 miles.

My returned health came on the heels of nine years of trying to get pregnant, being pregnant, and nursing, making the Loony a perfect bookend.

You see, I’d run the Loony once before, in 2014. Back then, I was newly pregnant with my first child. After five pregnancies, three kids, and a medical emergency after my last birth, I was ready to run it again. It was time to reclaim my body and see what it could do for me.

Once I signed up, I knew I’d race no matter what kind of shape I was in come autumn. The problem was I hadn’t really trained for a race in nearly a decade. But I knew going hard for nearly 20 miles without training is a recipe for breaking your body. Since I wasn’t keen to injure myself, I ran.

For over five months, I ran with friends. I ran alone. I ran early in the morning. I ran on vacation. I sipped sparkling water from my branded Loony tumbler. All the while fueled by the vision of myself healthy and strong as I cross the final finish line at the Capitol on the second day.

Thanks to all that preparation, the first day of the Loony Challenge went off without a hitch. I felt great running the 10k and then the 5k. I could taste my victory.

And then, on the second day, it was a record-setting 92 degrees on October 1. So just before 5:30 am — for the first time ever — race officials canceled the marathon and 10-mile races.

Canceled.

There would be no euphoric ending. There would be no race at all. I was disappointed, of course. I really wanted to finish what I set out to do. But also — and this surprised me — I felt grateful. Being ready for race day was just the carrot and stick I needed…

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Emily PG Erickson

Former mental health researcher sharing insights about psychology and parenting. www.emilypgerickson.com