The Mystery Medal

Guest Blogger, Kristen E. Liebsch –Jack of many trades, master of some: independent contractor, editor, writer, executive director, run motivator, mother and wife

Mystery Medal
It’s Medal Monday and I can’t find the medal. It’s tucked somewhere in a suitcase or bag or packing cube. It’s the medal that should not be: and another of my fail-to-win feats.

Back story: 2018: year 50…
I decide that 2018 is #challengeyear50. I learn to swim and do a triathalon; I have a chance to try paddle/Dragon Boating, and I jumped all over that. #goodtimes

Necessarily, 2019 and year 51 become a scale back year in terms of athletic events: only three priorities—Rehoboth 13.1, of course, the new Philly half course, and another Dragon Boating festival–all Fall events. Because long haul trips for work and for family/pleasure would dominate the first half of 2018. Best to have few training goals: less guilt that way.”

January 2019…
Dublin, Ireland: It’s not raining and I am climbing one of the Wicklow mountains with my daughters, sister, and daughter’s best friend. It’s the end of year 50—my 50th birthday, and reaching the pinnacle gave me all the feels, for a few. Down is always harder than up and for sure I brought some of that mountain down on me arse that day—year 51, don’t look back.

Speaking of Climbing…
Down is always harder, except when it’s not. It’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole of long haul trips, lack of training goals, an overabundance of excuses and rationales. Eventually, you have to climb back up.

Climbing is where I found myself in August, coming off another trip to Ireland [hey, when both of your adult children are living there AND there’s a family reunion, you go] with two half marathons looming ahead of me. Mile by mile, rung by rung, I was going to make it to Philly 13.1 with at least some sort of base mileage.

Down is sometimes faster, too…
Quickly, like a skater on ice: down I go on a sea of acorns sliding ever closer to the Schuykill River, attached to a wagon with 70 pounds of Dragon Boat supplies. October and November become a series of doctor visits, treatments, some cross training, and finally a couple of attempted walk/runs–and the decision to defer Philly 13.1–#2020redemption, I hope.

I won’t lie: when the deferral info was posted shortly after for Rehoboth 13.1, I thought: YES, I am still showing up—this weekend is full of camaraderie and a ton of laughter, an event that deserves a medal of its own on the world racing stage. But maybe I should cheer and spectate, grab the bullhorn and belt out those things runners need to hear: shut up legs, run with your heart, don’t trust a fart after mile 15.

Instead, I show up at the start armed with a novel plan: walk/run as long as possible then likely DNF [Did Not Finish] and head to the after party early—hey, some exercise is better than none. And forward is a pace.


My bib number is 2295: at age 22 I graduated college and in ‘95 I got married and had my first child. It’s good luck, right?

I am alone by mile five, having delivered my marathon friend to the 5k mark at her goal pace. I can look left and see the finish. I almost turn for home and the amazing after party. But I feel fine. I feel great, in fact. I don’t know what pace I am walk/running, because I didn’t start an app and don’t have a watch anymore—a Beagle puppy will do that to you.

And there it is, just before the 10k mark—or rather, there SHE is. The three-hour pacer. SERIOUSLY? I have caught the three-hour pacer after being nearly last to cross the start while walk/running with a goal finish time of 3:30 and change.


My brain doesn’t stop and say: DUDE, you are not even halfway done! On the contrary, my brain says “see ya LATER Alligator.” Ego….could I possibly catch the 2:45 pacer?!

The beauty of the Rehoboth event [26.2/13.1] is that it is part town running and part trail. One of my favorite sections is the Breakwater—an out and back trail that fills five miles of the race courses and feeds your soul. I am now determined to “Breakwater”– dance with the D.J. at miles 8/10, cheer all the runners, Do.All.The.Things. Get a medal after all.

The problem is, the trail ends around mile 11.something. I have hit THE WALL in a whole new way. I don’t even feel like walking anymore and cannot figure out how to put one more foot in front of the other. But where’s the 3-hour pacer—#ego says: don’t let her catch you.

Or maybe it was the notion of getting to the beer sooner. I beat the pacer with minutes to spare, and shocked myself and everyone else who knew what I was facing.

To Train…
The next day, we take my son to a 76ers game. Our train station has a lot of stairs. So did the nosebleed section we sat in for the game. I did not train for stairs, either. Surely not after a day with 34,699 steps, most of which were unplanned. I don’t regret my Rehoboth choices. But I do plan to train in 2020.


Kristen E. Liebsch, Rehoboth Beach 2019

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