I haven’t talked that much about it on the blog so far, but one of the things that I enjoy greatly is running. Not only is it one way that I invest in my health, but running alone is my favorite sanctuary, so much so that I run about 9 hours a week most weeks.
But no matter how much I enjoy running by myself, I’ve also found that there are a few friends that I really connect with over runs and I try to regularly make time for these “running buddies” where we can run together, catch up, vent out frustrations, and just be. Think of it like a great coffee date with a friend, only instead of sitting on your butt drinking 600 calories of caffeinated sugar you’re on the move.
Being A Good Friend
One of my favorite running buddies took some time off running and has been trying to get back into it, so over the summer, I had been doing my best to support her efforts by running with her most Saturday mornings. ”The Saturday runs have been great,” she said, but she wanted more of a concrete goal for her running. I suggested a half marathon that was about 5 months away, and she balked. She wanted a closer more intermediate goal, so she found a 5K that was a little off the beaten path and sounded fun and asked if I would run it with her.
I was torn.
You see, I have this rule - I don’t pay for 5Ks. My reasoning behind it is that there are 8,000 of them here every year, and as soon as you say yes to one, everyone expects you to run their 5K too! And call me cheap, but I really like running races where you get a nice tech shirt instead of cotton t-shirt that can be pretty useless when it comes to running. 5K race shirts as a rule are terrible. Sad, but true.
But Mr. PoP served as my Jiminy Cricket and reminded me that the “wrong things may be right at the right time” and that supporting my friend was really the issue of greater importance here – not my cheapness or adherence to a silly rule that I imposed on myself.
So I mailed in my check to sign up. Heck if I was already paying $30 for a 5K, I wasn’t about to pay $2 in fees for Active.com on top of it, right? Plus, I wanted the early-bird pricing to save an extra $5.
And my running buddy started to get pretty psyched about the race. We even had an excellent run the day I told her I was in. There were about 5 weeks before the race to get her to her goal pace. Totally doable.
But Then She Started Being Lame
Right after the check for my race registration was cashed my running buddy started canceling on me. She’s got a two-year-old kid, so her canceling over the past few years has become a somewhat regular occurrence. Her excuses were all the same this time…
“My ankle is stiff… now it’s kindof swollen a little… my ankle still hurts…”
“This is seriously lame,” I thought. ”Seriously. I paid $30 for this race that I wouldn’t normally have done, and she’s going to be totally lame and cancel on me, isn’t she?” Jeez.
And I wasn’t surprised when she cancelled on me for the race. The day before the race she told me she wasn’t going to make it because of her ankle. I was nice about it. I told her she needed to go see a doctor if her ankle had seriously been giving her trouble for 5 weeks.
But on the inside, I was annoyed. I didn’t even want to do the race if she wasn’t going to be there – not to mention pay for gas and tolls to get there. So I let my $30 be a sunk cost. There was no way I would be getting it back, so I let it go and decided not to throw any more money at it because to me, a 5K just wasn’t worth it.
And Then I Felt Like A Jerk
Turns out, my friend wasn’t so much being lame by canceling on me all those times as she was lame. Literally.
She had been walking around on a fractured ankle for the past 5 weeks and didn’t schedule a doctor’s appointment until I reminded her of how long she had been complaining about it! Apparently it was a mild fracture, and by the time the doctor saw the x-rays it had already partially healed (and was healing correctly, thank goodness).
Now I just feel like a bad person for being annoyed at all my friend’s recent excuses. Yes, the $30 was a sunk cost. But in comparison to the pain and frustration my friend has been going through walking on a fractured ankle, $30 hardly seems worth complaining about.
My friend has to take it easy on her ankle for another few weeks – but she’ll heal without any permanent damage. And the $30 didn’t do any permanent damage to our finances, so all’s well that ends well, I guess. But the next time she wants me to run a race, I may not feel the need to get the early-bird price discount… if I had thought about the likelihood of cancelation, I probably would have been better off paying the Active.com fees and registering late in the game rather than trying to save $7.
Have you had any sunk costs lately? What about lame friends costing you money?