Why I put a 13.1 bumper sticker on my car

I was torn.  I really was.  It felt like bragging, and I’m not a huge fan of bragging, because its purpose is to make yourself feel better in comparison to others.

But the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to put that 13.1 magnet on the back of my car after I finished my first half marathon.  Why?  Not because I want to feel better than anyone else.  In fact, chances are decent that non-runners barely notice my car magnet.  Greg had actually RUN a marathon and I STILL DIDN’T KNOW WHAT THE 26.2 STICKERS MEANT.

I apologize for all caps, but, seriously?  Really?  I hadn’t figured out what those car stickers were?

So, here’s my thinking.  I believe that almost anyone can run a half marathon… if they want to.  Whether or not everyone can WANT to run a half marathon is the real question.

I think when someone sees the 13.1 magnet on the back of my car, and then sees a short, tired looking woman hauling two kids out of car seats in an effort to beat the lunch rush at Whole Foods, they’re going to think, “Umm, really?  SHE found the time and energy to run a half marathon?  REALLY?!?  If she can do it, I can do it.  Maybe I will.”

Why do I think this?  Because I’ve actually inspired a lot of people to start running, or to run further than they’ve ever run before.  I’ve inspired more runners than some people who are better, faster, and more dedicated runners than I am.  I am an enthusiastic runner, and I am very real, very attainable, and very passable.  I make it look like you could do it, too.  BECAUSE YOU CAN.

So I’m keeping my 13.1 car magnet, and I hope that it earns me a smile of camaraderie from other runners, and a “REALLY? Well geez, I bet I could do that…” from non-runners.  Or maybe, just as good, a “Really?  If she can do 13.1, I can get into good enough shape for a 5K.”  Awesome.  Do it.

Because if you want it, if you look at that car magnet and wish you’d earned one, too, then the best thing I can do for you is show you how attainable it really is.

I’m not saying it’s easy, I’m saying with enough time, patience, and hard work, you could do it.  Don’t ask me, though, ask your doctor.  See the look of happiness on their face when you tell them you really want to step up your cardiovascular exercise.

Just promise me that if you want to, you’ll put a 3.1, 6.2, or 13.1 runbrag on your car, too.  Let’s show everyone how many of us are doing it.  Maybe we’ll get them to join us, and running will improve their lives, too.

You may also like: Dear Chad Stafko, OK, We’re Happy to be Runners. Get Over It.

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35 comments

  1. I want one!!! well, I may have said that too soon out of sheer excitement over the pumped up post. I want 3.1!!! and I will one day in the very near future. And I’m so glad I’m not the only dork out there who didn’t have a clue what those stickers meant until 6 months ago!

    1. Hahahaha, you have to be CAREFUL of sheer excitement, it gets me into a LOT of trouble! After all, I’m the girl who signed up for a half marathon because I wanted to buy a t-shirt that said “13.1, Half the Distance, Twice the Fun”. Car magnets can actually motivate you! And hey, why not? I think you should get a 3.1… in fact, I may get a 3.1 also. Because I’m not just proud of my longest distance, the first 3.1 was a huge mental hurdle, and one I’d love to show that I’m proud of also!

  2. My hubby bought me a 5K magnet for my van at my race in August. It makes me insanely happy every time I see it.

    Maybe. Maybe someday I will have a 13.1 one as well 😀

    1. Maybe you will! And I’m really glad that you have the 5k magnet! It feels good, right? It invites conversation with people, shows your accomplishment, and reminds you of how awesome you are every time you see it. I find that mine gives me strength on tough days because I remember that I’ve got what it takes 🙂

    2. Update for anyone just now reading this: It’s just over a year later… and Amy has indeed run her first half marathon. 🙂

  3. Good for you! You totally deserve some bragging rights! And you definitely inspire a lot of people to not only start running, but stick with running. I love reading your blog, especially when i find my motivation lacking a bit. Thank you for all the encouragement.

    1. Thank you Larrissa! I’m really glad to hear it, it’s awesome to know that you’re enjoying my blog and that you find it motivating. I know that there are days when I am REALLY unmotivated, and hearing from readers like you helps me push through those times… so we’re helping each other. That’s why I started in the first place, to connect to other runners! How awesome that it’s really happening 🙂

  4. Kelly I really love your blog and you have inspire me so much, I’m just a beginner , I’ve done a couple of 5k but you made me think I actually can do a half marathon too! And I will 🙂 thanks for doing this and inspiring so many people…

    1. That’s great Wendy! It was a really powerful experience, because I remember so clearly all the points in my life where I never would have thought it was something that I could, or would, achieve. It was hard work training for it, and that meant I felt really accomplished afterwards, and I am so, so glad I did! I hope you’ll let me know if you decide to do one, I’d love to hear about it!!!

  5. Just reading this I feel as if I could go out right now and run a half! A few years ago I did actually run one, but it was an inaugural race in a small town and they didn’t mean for it to be a half so no fun stickers or anything. I am going to look today for a half around my area and see about signing up!

    1. I’d love to hear how it goes if you find one! 🙂 Umm, are you saying you ACCIDENTALLY ran a half a few years ago? I wish I were accidentally so awesome. Whenever I am awesome it is very much on purpose and with a lot of work! 😉

  6. We are often completely unaware of the ways in which we inspire others in our everyday lives, just by doing the things we do or the way in which we do them. Consciously setting out to inspire others by letting them know that ordinary everyday people can accomplish pretty amazing things with not an unreasonable amount of effort is pretty cool, and it’s definitely not bragging! By the way I don’t think you’re ordinary, I think you’re quite extraordinary 😉

    1. Niki – thank you so much, you are so kind and I’m so glad you’re reading my blog 🙂 How lovely, what a nice comment, it truly makes my day, and I look forward to hearing more from you including what you decide on for your next half! Perhaps I will be as fast as you someday 🙂

      1. You are most welcome! I am so pleased that I found your blog! It’s funny that you think I’m fast – my half was COMPLETELY flat, and yours was SO hilly! I wouldn’t even have considered signing up for yours as I have avoided hills like the plague and done absolutely no hill training at all! I’d be really curious to see your time on a flat half 🙂

        I travelled for work this week with my colleague who did the same half as me. We went for a 10km run together in the country town we were in, and it was such an awesome run, we couldn’t believe how much we enjoyed it. Neither of us normally runs with anyone else, so the combination of running together, feeling like explorers and enjoying the change of scenery, loving the chilly air (it was a beautiful, cool morning) and running at a very easy pace was absolutely perfect. I couldn’t remember when I had last enjoyed a run that much! I’m planning on doing another 10km run tomorrow along my previous training route (the one that got boring), but because I haven’t run it for 3 weeks, I’m hoping it will be as fun again.

        1. That sounds awesome – I would LOVE to do a run that long with someone! I don’t know anyone who matches my pace well, so I’m either chasing the mothers forum, or doing a family run with Greg who is pushing the double stroller and barely working while I’m running all out and can’t talk in order for him to not be completely bored! I am thinking that once I’m through the training for my next half, I might take time to join up with some local running groups and meet some more runners who might be a better pace match for me 🙂

          1. I really hope that you are able to find someone to run with, even once every couple of weeks would be lovely. It just mixes things up a bit and keeps it interesting. I let my friend set the pace, which definitely contributed to the enjoyment, as we were simply out for a run, not with any time or pace goal in mind, just enjoying being in the moment, appreciating the scenery, and the sense of freedom that running brings.

          2. That makes so much sense! I will have to work on that 🙂

  7. Too funny that I’m reading this today, because I just pulled the trigger and bought my 13.1 sticker for my car today! I was really hesitant about it, because deep down I don’t really feel like it’s a huge accomplishment. Really, it is, but because I’ve been running the long runs for such a long time, it feels like “yea, that was just what came next”. But it’s a huge accomplishment, and we should be proud! I also hope to inspire others. This mom of a busy toddler who works full time did it, maybe someone else can too!

    1. Yes! Awesome! I’m so glad you got the sticker. I really wanted one as I was training for the half marathon, and then when I did it, I felt unsure about getting one. The more I think about it, the more I’m glad I did. It inspires conversation, and I do think it can motivate other people to get out there and run too! It is a big accomplishment. I don’t know about you, but that last half mile when I expected to be floating on finish line adrenaline, I was just thinking “WHAT DO YOU MEAN WE AREN’T THERE YET?!?!?!!!!” so, it was kind of hard. Yeah. Anyway, I’m glad you’re going to be sporting a 13.1, you’ve earned it, and it’s a broadcast of possibilities to anyone who is thinking about it 🙂

      1. Yes! Most of my run was along a straight trail, and the last half mile or so went through town and then some twists and turns through a community park. I couldn’t see the finish line, but I could see all the crowds and festivities. After every turn I thought “No finish line yet? Where the heck is it then!?!” That was the hardest part!

        1. I know, even in a 5k when I know it’s close but I don’t see it, or I see it and its further than I expected, it’s so hard! It might be my least favorite part of the race because you know that if you slow down it’s REAL seconds off your time! (As opposed to slowing down in the beginning, when you could be banking energy for later in the race…)

  8. I am also putting one on my car. I just did the half in Detroit 2 weeks ago. I am still buzzing about that! I love your statement… I am very attainable, very real, very passable. Yep, that’s me. My time was 3.25″31 … very slow I know… but at least I had a finish time!! This time last year I couldn’t run/walk 1 mile, let alone 13.1.

    I am super proud of myself!! … what is wrong with that I ask?? 🙂

    1. Nothing wrong with that! Especially if it keeps you moving 🙂

  9. Thanks so much for posting this! For the longest time, I’ve wanted to complete a half-marathon, and ever since I found out what those stickers meant, I’ve been envious of all the people who display them! I’m now officially training for my first half and can’t wait to get a sticker! However, when I searched for them online, I found some very discouraging discussions where people were putting down those who displayed the 13.1 sticker, because they only finished “half” a race! It made me feel stupid for wanting one, until I found your blog, which, by the way, is very inspiring! I tend to agree with you, that they are motivating and inspiring and every time I see one, I get excited all over again about my goal! Later, I found another discussion with positive comments discussing the community it creates by connecting running enthusiasts of all walks of life together. The “haters” can keep on hating because they just don’t understand! Even the jerk who started the discussion said he wasn’t a runner, so go figure! He did claim to accomplish other challenging, physical tasks, but said he wouldn’t put a sticker on his car for it. Whatever. Now I’m convinced that it’s inspiring to others and worth it to proclaim to the community what you accomplished. Those of us who run will get it and will high-five each other (or flash a thumbs-up if driving)! Good luck to you in your race this weekend! 🙂

    1. Caryn – thanks for commenting, and I’m so glad you found the post! I laugh to think of someone calling it “half” a race… ok, it’s half the distance of a marathon, but it’s over TWICE a 10k and over FOUR TIMES a 5k, and those are both races! Also, it’s a huge achievement for any runner, not half of someone else’s achievement, thank you very much. I think it’s easy to feel insecure about our own achievements, but what does it say that we’re worried about offending someone else by being proud of what we did? That we think they can’t handle the awesomeness of our accomplishments? Um, isn’t that even more offensive, in a way? I am pretty sure my friends all know I ran a half marathon, and aren’t feeling insecure about themselves every time they see my car magnet. Plus, it really can inspire others by acting as a visual reminder of what we can accomplish if we’re patient enough to work towards it slowly. That’s cool. If someone’s jealous or upset, I’m happy to help them figure out how they can earn their own 😉

  10. I’ve never run a half marathon, but I ran a whole marathon, so let me tell you this: 13.1 was the easy part.

    1. I’m sure! Your comment made me laugh – it reminded me when I was first starting Couch to 5k and having a hard time running for more than 20 minutes without stopping. I googled for the best ways to prepare for a 5k, and hit on an article that said the best way to prepare to run 5k is to train for 10k. Not EXACTLY the advice I wanted to hear at the time. Now one of my favorite things to do is to run a 5k, because it’s much shorter than the distance I can handle, so I get to push much harder for a shorter amount of time.

  11. I saw one this morning that said 0.0 and I laughed so hard and couldn’t stop laughing! I laughed all the way to work!

    1. My favorite 0.0 bumper stickers are the ones with the Blerch on them from The Oatmeal… have you seen those?!

  12. “I’m not into bragging” says the woman with an entire blog devoted to bragging about her lifestyle and how great it is.

    1. That’s one way of looking at it; I prefer to think of it as sharing strategies for sticking with running and eating well despite the challenges associated with both. I’ve connected with a lot of great people through this blog, and really loved it.

    2. It’s her blog. She can brag all she wants.

  13. Good. When are you running the hard half of a marathon.

  14. In 2012 I could not walk 1 mile on a flat, paved surface because I had let myself get so far out of shape. In Oct 2013 I walked my first 5K. It took 3 years but I did my first 10k in Nov 2015. The distance wasn’t the issue for me, it was the time limit. This year I completed my first obstacle course mud run, with the help & encouragement of the gym rats. 2 weeks ago I completed the Bisbee 1000 Stairclimb & I have plans to complete my first half marathon in April 2017.

    I have stickers for my 5k, my 10k, my dirty girl mudrun & the Bisbee 1000 on my car. To me, they represent miles walked & walk/run miles. They represent hours at the gym in the weight room, HIIT classes, yoga & on the spin bike. They represent my continually evolving Self in my quest to regain my health.

    If people don’t like my stickers, they can go around me. I earned those stickers & I’m often told I inspire others to push themselves. I’m sure your sticker inspires people as well.

    1. This is amazing – thank you so much Mary! I wish you the best as you prepare for your half marathon in April, it sounds like having done a 10k and the Bisbee 1000 that you’ve got all the grit and experience you’ll need! Congrats and way to go! Would love to hear how your first half is!

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