On Sunday night after the US Olympic Marathon Trials, some painful first aid for a soccer injury, and a long blog-writing session, I stared at the computer screen, trying to disengage and get ready or bed. It's never easy to shut down, to quit for the day, and I found myself aimlessly clicking through email - deleting promos, ignoring reminders, and skipping over other junk. But suddenly something caught my eye: a final reminder for some swag if I register for a local race. Oh man. Register for the race! It wasn't that I needed the swag exactly (though who can resist an ultra-soft running tee with a cute design?), but rather it reminded me that I wasn't registered for a spring race yet. I'd run the Krispy Kreme Challenge, sure, but that's more "fun run" than PR-seeking race. I checked my calendar and then checked it again. I knew the races some of my friends had planned, and there was still time to train for those events.

Lace up your racing shoes!

Ooooh swag!

"Free tshirt! 30 minutes left to register!"

"Groupon for local half marathon!"

Who could resist?

But running isn't about the gimmicks to get you to register, or the silly swag and souvenirs. I'm looking forward to running with friends. It's such an encouragement, even at the elite level like the US Olympic Marathon Trials when training partners and best friends Shalane Flanagan and Amy Cragg coaxed, coached, and supported each other through the race. Even though I didn't have a great race at the Tar Heel 10 Miler in 2015, I still remember it as a good experience because of all the runners I knew that morning - the cheering and the shrieking and the hugs and the excited chatter and encouragement. Because of this, I will try again, and then some.

Pre-race pic with friends.

So bring on the Tar Heel 10 Miler and the Not So Normal Half Marathon! Come, all you runners, you Fleet Feeters, you pub runners, you loved ones from out of town, you Bull City runners, you college buddies, you casual acquaintances with the various running shoe preferences, you speedsters and first-timers! Come on, let's race, and I'll see you out there this spring.

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