Saturday, August 1, 2015

Harry Potter, the Hogwarts Running Club, and the Department of Mysteries 10k

So a few weeks ago I alluded to something I found that I hoped would keep me interested in running, and help to alleviate the monotony that has descended upon me from training. But first, I'm gonna back up and explain a bit about myself (in case you don't already know this).

If you know me in real life, you know I love Harry Potter. The first book came out when I was 10, and in 5th grade I started reading them (about a year after the first was published), thanks to the awesome teach who introduced the books to our class. I devoured the first two - the second had been released in England, but not in the US and I begged my mom to order it from Amazon UK, which she did - Thanks, Mom! I read the third before it was released in the US as well, and after that they started releasing them simultaneously in both countries.

Now, if you don't know me in real life, here's some additional background:

I was one of those fans who attended every midnight release of the books and premier of the movies excepting the 5th book (which I was on a trip during, though my mom overnighted it to me!), and the 1st movie (which my mom surprised my brother and me for - we stayed home from school and went to the 10am show). I have friends who I stayed in touch with through college specifically because we needed to plan "premier parties" during our summer breaks (hey Katie and Lauren!), and they're some of the only high school friends I've stayed in touch with.

I'm one of those fans who will tell you I grew up with Harry - that he and his friends and teachers helped me through my awkward and difficult adolescence, and it is how I learned that, "Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light." That is a nifty and helpful thing to remember when you're fourteen and one of your parents dies. It helped to have a character say, "Death is the next great adventure," and to have an author who did not obsess over the finality of death, but rather the reality that, "the ones who love us never really leave us. And you can always find them in here," in our hearts and in our memories.

Because the entire point of the story is that hope and love can triumph when everything is against you, when you have lost so much, and when you are certain of nothing but that fact that you will fail. It is a story that reminds us that we are all equal, and that our choices should define us rather than our abilities and the uncontrollable challenges and circumstances of our lives.

I am the fan who reads the books over and over, and proclaims that "Hogwarts is my home." When JK Rowling said this at the last movie premier, I cried, because I felt in my heart that it is true:

I get a certain feeling when I read Harry Potter...a feeling I have never felt at any other time...except when I walked into Hogsmeade at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. There is no other word to describe it...Harry Potter simply feels magical.

When I start talking about Harry Potter (ahem, like right now), I feel like I'm the biggest HP fan in the world. And I think that's something special and unique for HP fans: We all feel like we're the biggest fan. The One. The Best. Because we all fell in love with this story, and that will never go away.

I could go on for hours. You see, I also happen to be one of those fans who likes to talk about the intricacies of the novels - the small and subtle but poignant details that exist in the pages of those seven books. I am the fan who remembers single words and phrases that casual readers simply glance over.

I don't have kids yet, but I'll be one of those parents anxiously waiting for their kid to get just a little bit older so we can read the next book and I can watch the magic unfold before their eyes.

The series means so much to me that I even got a Harry Potter tattoo. Yeah, I'm one of those people (I warned you!). It's one of those things that people might know is from Harry Potter, but they don't understand it unless they've read the books. And even then there are a lot of people who aren't quite as obsessed - whose lives weren't entirely changed by the series - who forget what it means. Here's a picture, in case you're curious:

If you get it great...but I won't spoil it for you here ;)
So all of these things kind of culminate in a way that I will at least look at pretty much anything that involves Harry Potter. For a long time, (the of the original and best fansites) was my home page, but since it's shifted away from the books in recent years (it has been 8 years since the last book was released) I've switched back to a plain ol' Google Homepage, but I follow Mugglenet on Facebook so I can see what they're posting about.

And I'm sure you want to know what this has to do with running. So I will tell you:

I was scrolling through Facebook one day and stumbled upon a post by Mugglenet about something called the Hogwarts Running Club. Appalled that I hadn't heard about it, I click-click-clicked away and discovered something wonderful: I was just in time to register for their next virtual race. And I did.

A $25 registration and all proceeds go to charity (the remainder of your fee pays for the medal and shipment). You can also earn "house points" by participating in Charity Miles, which raises money through the miles you walk, run, and bike. And you can sure as hell bet I'm racking those up for Slytherin! ;P

Anyways, HRC runs six virtual races and a few challenges throughout the year. For those of you who are unfamiliar, a virtual race is one that can be run (or walked/crawled/ellipticalled/skipped/danced/yougetit) anywhere - you don't even have to do it on the actual day of the race. I signed up right away for the race on offer - the Department of Mysteries 10k (or close to it) was actually 6.2442 miles (kinda like M-A-G-I-C, huh?), to be run on July 31st in honor of Harry and JK Rowling's birthdays.

So yesterday I got good and ready, waited for the sun to go down a bit, and then off I went. 6.2442 miles. Like I said in my post before I left - I didn't want to look at the medal until I was done. So I was super happy when I got home, to open the package and see this:

And I was double happy, because I felt like I'd really earned it. Here's a close up too:

It was hot and sweaty, and I didn't love every minute (seriously, the heat is really affecting my pace), but it did the trick. And in the end, it felt like a real race because I felt like I was running for a reason.

Basically, it kept me moving. It was like a little landmark on the way to 13.1 that kept me moving and training. It also meant I got to do a shorter "long" run this weekend than normal (don't worry, I worked it into my plan) and I got to geek out about why I was doing it. (Though ironically, those two friends I mentioned earlier, we have a book club and just started reading Jurassic Park, so I was listening to that while I ran, haha).

But anyways - if you're a Potterphile and you're looking for some motivation, I highly suggest this club. It's fun to think about like I'm actually a student at Hogwarts who joined this club and has some fun extracurricular to participate in.

Here's more info about the remaining events HRC will be hosting this year. I highly recommend participating...and I wouldn't say no to a running buddy for a few of these :)

Hogwarts Running Club 2015: Remaining Events

The Platform 9 3/4k (Year Two) & the DA Galleon Quest - Registration just opened (at 4:00 pm CST August 1st). If you'd like to participate (it's just over 6 miles) you can register here. Remember - you don't have to run.

The DA Galleon Quest - for which you receive a DA Galleon coin - is completed by registering for (and completing) the 9 3/4k and the Road to Hogwarts - a 52 mile virtual race that you have 90 days to complete between July 1st and October 1st (so you still have time to do it!). This one is being conducted by the Harry Potter Alliance (a 501c3 charity). I registered July 5th and have gone 34.3 miles so far:

I'll be there soon! Probably only another week and a half until I finish :)

Time Turner Event (event registration opens in October): I'm excited for this because it will allow me to complete all the events I missed so far - The Dementor's Kiss 5k, Weasley's Wizarding Wheezer 5k, and the Voldemort V-Miler. This event also allows any registrants to participate in the Marauder's Challenge!!!!!

The Marauder's Challenge (event registration not yet open): As long as you have registered for at least 3 other events and you can enter this one. Do all 6 races from 2015 and you get a Prefect Pin! That's right, I'm going for that pin!

(Seriously, you think I'm geeking out now, it was worse when I found out about all of this).

So there you have it. The thing that's keeping me motivated is a whole bunch of Harry Potter related races, and my "home" school's running club. Whenever I dink around the Facebook page or think about the different races I get a little of the magical feeling that Harry Potter gives me.'s fun to take something you love and turn it in to motivation.

And I'm not gonna lie...the swag isn't bad and I'll probably be buying a T-shirt or two soon.

For now, I'm off. It's Saturday night and there are many more things to do than I've already done today. I leave you with these parting words...

Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment Tweak!


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