Ugly Running Photos

17 Feb

This weekend, I will be lining up at the start line for the Ottawa Winterman Half Marathon. It’s a challenging course in that the temperatures aren’t exactly going to be balmy. Rather, the current forecast projects a -6 degree high (yay!), but it will feel like -15 degrees (boo!).

While we will trek around a 5-km course four times, we are sure to pass the photography company assigned to shoot us runners flying by round after round. After round. After round. Can we say photo opp?

I can only assume the photos will capture frozen nose hairs, chunky clothing and red, puffy faces. Regardless of the cold temps, there’s no hiding it – running photos aren’t always pretty. Just Ask Katie Holmes.

Maybe Katie Holmes is a bad example, but when we are working our hardest to go our fastest, sometimes our faces don’t demonstrate the best in show. Although I do have one friend who takes great race-day photos. You know who you are, Pippy! 


For me, being self-conscious about my running stature started before my running days. It started in Grade 5, when I sucked in my baby fat cheeks while we had to do sprint relays around the gym. I didn’t want the boys to laugh at my cheeks. Good reason, right?

I completed the Where’s Franktown 5-km Road Race last May, hoping to do a PB. It was rainy, cold and hard. I did PB, beating my best time by five whole seconds, but it wasn’t pretty, and neither was my photo.

Later that month, I completed my first ever Try-A-Tri. I loved doing the tri so much, and had a blast completing it with a friend! We laughed a lot that day, and I checked off a bucket list item. But when I got home, I saw the pics. Not only is my shirt on backwards, I thought I looked awful!

Real Triathletes Wear Their Shirts Backwards

But let’s put our pride aside for a moment. Sometimes race-day photos can be pretty, even if the image doesn’t look like it. While it may highlight drool, sweat and tears (and perhaps baby fat cheeks, too), race-day photos also capture big milestones. Qualifying for Boston. Completing a first five-km race during a weight-loss journey. Running on behalf of a charity. These are the reasons why we run. Not for the photo finishes.

I did a five-km PB and a Try-A- Tri, but instead I focus on my ugly prints.

So when I review this weekends’ photos with frozen nose hairs in stride, I’ll do my best to laugh it off and realize it’s not about the photo, but the finish.

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