It's Never too Early (Or Too Late) to Make Your Bucket List

I'm at home today on a rest day before tomorrow's half marathon.  I'm doing some house cleaning.  I've just reorganized and sorted my tote boxes full of race shirts.  I literally have hundreds of race shirts.  Many of them bring back amazing memories of beautiful courses, great times with friends, and fun travel experiences the minute I see the shirt logo.

With all the racing I've done, I know I still have a long list of places I want to visit and races I want to do.  I look forward to next year and the years after.

I'm approaching the age that comes with the reminder and the realization that I have less years left ahead of me than years that I have lived through.  And it's going to go by fast.

We know none of us are promised tomorrow.  But we still need to plan for it.

So I ask you, if you haven’t already- start making that race bucket list today.  I don’t care if you’re 20 or 60, if you’re a fast runner or a slow runner, if you’re into 5Ks, marathons or triathlons.  Start making that list of the places you want to visit and the events you want to do.

The most valuable resource in your life is time, not money.  If money is lost it can be earned back, replaced, or gifted.  And as you know from my writing, there are a lot of things we can do to reduce our travel and endurance sport costs to go to more events and maximize the power of our spending money.  But once time is gone, it’s gone.

So if endurance sports is a hobby you really love, give yourself the opportunity to really plan out what you want to do, and focus on the events that mean the most to you first.

Time spent planning ahead with your race “bucket list” will make your future races plans easier to execute.  You’ll already know where you want to go and what you want to do.  You’ll know when any lotteries open up so you can get your entry in.  You’ll know the dates of events to request vacation time from work, and book flights and hotels at their cheapest.  

This also means picking the best races that are the best use of my time.  While there are some wonderful races out there that I’ve done several times, they fall on the same weekends as other events I want to do.  So if I’ve already done an event multiple times, it’s time for a change.

My goal list races include several half marathons: Flying Pig, Gasparilla, Utah, San Francisco, La Jolla to name a few.  These are places I want to go to for their beauty, or road races that are just known to be an amazing experience.   My list connects races with places I want to see, like the San Diego Zoo, the redwoods forests of northern California, and the Georgia Aquarium.

I am implementing a personal “no repeat” race rule.  This means- if I’ve done a race before, I can’t do it again with two exceptions: 1) my entry is free or 2) I am serving as a pace group leader again.  

This race rule can help break up race boredom.  While there is a fun challenge in wanting to do better each year on the same race course, I think my time better served going to the places I’d regret not seeing.

Although you are making a “list” of races you want to do, it’s important to remember that life is not a checklist of accomplishments.  Make that bucket list because it’s what *you* want to do, not what will impress others or make you feel better than other people.  I don't participate in these events because I'm going to win- I never will.  I don't do it to beat other people.  I do it because I love the people I connect with, that it's great exercise, and that it's an amazing way to travel and see places.

For example, I don’t have "finishing a race in all 50 states" as a goal because it’s not a personal interest.  But I am interested in seeing what I feel are the most beautiful places in our country.  Although there are some amazing and scenic triathlons, I am not going to try them because I’m not interested in the sport.  

You also need to make sure you enjoy the journey.  While competing goal items gives a sense of accomplishment, I think most of the joy and satisfaction comes from the steps taken to get there.  For some people, this means they have no problem flying cross country in a weekend to do races and sight see on the course. For others, this means they need to slow down and make the most of each trip, doing the important “to-do’s” along the way.

There will be issues and setbacks that will derail you off your path temporarily. There will be injuries, illnesses, cancelled races, job losses, life changes, moves, and even a hurricane or two to throw off your plans.  Don’t get mad when life gets in the way of goals sometimes. Don’t beat yourself up for it either.

So ahead- start planning. Start dreaming.  Make that goal race wish list.  Maybe you want to race in all 50 states.  Maybe you want to run every race that goes through a sporting stadium or venue in the country.   Maybe your goal is to do a race on each continent.  Whatever it is, start planning now.  Having that goal in mind will help you best apply your limited resources of both money and time to achieve your travel dreams.

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