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Reflection On Three Personal Goals Achieved and the USATF's Phidippides Award

Posted Oct 05 2011 10:29pm
One of the primary questions I have been asked all year is why I ran so many races. For the 2011 year I attempted 13 races and completed 12 to date. As fate would have it I will be doing yet another 2 5ks before the year is out. I would think for most people that 15 races would seem a little much especially with such a busy family life. My answer to them is threefold. First and foremost I used these races to both gauge where I was at training wise and also as training runs themselves. Second, I wanted to challenge myself to do a couple of distances I had not attempted before. In 2011 I wanted to both run a 10k and also a full marathon. In fact I wanted to do the cycle of doing 5ks, 10ks, half marathons and marathons in one year. I am happy to report that I completed this cycle by doing to date 6 5ks, 2 10ks, 3 half marathons and 1 full marathon. And last is that one of the secondary goals I personally and privately had for the year was to earn the USA Track and Field’s Phidippides Award. I am also happy to report that I have earned this award and wanted to talk about it briefly today.

Let me begin by saying I am sharing this personal and previously private achievement because I am proud of completing these dozen races. It was a long term goal of mine to hopefully be capable of completing these new distances in 2011. But this award to me is a validation of the time and the effort not only myself but my family put into being a part of all of these races. Of being a part of a wonderful community of races and the runners in them. I am not writing to day to say “look what I earned” or that I am special in any manner. But to show that anyone over 40 and especially with a family can find the time to work towards and achieve such goals. I think that this award is a wonderful benefit for Master runners and more people should work towards it annually.

So what is the Phidippides Award? The Phidippides Award, inspired by the historic masters runner , is an award available to dedicated members of USA Track and Field organization (over the age of 40) who earn points through their participation in road races throughout the year.  Athletes who earn enough points will be recognized by USATF with a personalized Gold, Silver, or Bronze plaque. The award itself is free, and is bestowed to the runner upon receipt of his/her application and verification of the event information.
Runners can earn the following points toward their year-end point total as follows:
Race DistancePoints per race 5 km - 5 mile1 point 10 km - 15 km2 points 10 mile - 1/2 Marathon3 points 25 km - Marathon4 points

You may be asking why was a Masters age award named after Phidippides? Phidippides was a Master when he performed his historic runs. According to chronicles Phidippides was sent to Sparta by Athenian officials when they were threatened by Persians landing at Marathon. The trip was 150 miles which he ran in 2 days. The Spartans were celebrating a festival and could not come until the full moon, several days later, whereupon Phidippides retraced his steps in 2 more days. He then fought a battle with the rest of the Athenians routing the Persians. The Persians retreated to their ships and set sail for Athens, which caused the Athenians to send Phidippides from the battlefield to Athens, a distance of 26 miles. He reached Athens, pronounced Nenikekamen (‘We have won’ or ‘We are victorious’) and promptly died. Robert Browning commemorated this story in his 1879 poem Pheidippides. The poem inspired Baron Pierre de Coubertin and other founders of the modern Olympic games to invent a running race of 42 kilometers called the marathon.
I hope that this helps some of you to consider working towards the award or other long term goals in the future. Now that I have collectively achieved all of the above goals this year I can put such things to rest for a while. But the plague in years to come will be a reminder of all of the races and great memories that I had in 2011. Will this be an annual thing for me? No. Will I ever go for the award again? I’m not sure but I seriously doubt it. But it was a fun way to help to motivate me to do things and distances I never have done before.

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