Despite growing up in Connecticut, I’ve got a strong streak of West Coast woo-woo running through my veins. A recent example? My almost spiritual connection to my purple Asics running hat. I don’t know what it is about me and this cap, but I feel a very strong tie to it. It doesn’t make much sense on numerous levels. For starters, blue is my signature color, not purple. Yet despite having the exact.same.hat in royal blue, it’s the purple one I feel a bond with.
Even my kids know it: Daphne, 5, loves to put on the purple topper and run laps around the cluster of chairs in our bedroom (see photo, below). The other evening (the indoor lap-running is always a bedtime-activity, of course. Why brush your teeth or put on jammies when there is running to do, right?!) Daphne was working up a sweat, and I told her to go easy on the hat. She stopped and asked me why. Big sis Phoebe piped up, “because that’s Momma’s favorite hat!” Then she corrected herself, “Well, she likes the color of the blue one better, but that hat is more special to her.” Ever-astute Phoebe.
My affinity for this hat began at the Eugene Women’s Half Marathon on a brilliantly sunny September day. To keep from deepening my crow’s feet for 13.1 miles, I donned the hat, which coordinated with my Lululemon running top. The hat switched from the practical to the spiritual when my pal Julie, who was behind me, yelled out that she had been following my purple hat for most of the race, knowing I was setting a steady pace. (Julie yelled this out as she, um, passed me when my speed faded…) After the race, Julie told me she knew that if she kept my hat within sight, she was running a strong race. That meant a lot to me as Julie is younger, stronger, and faster than I am.
Somewhere behind dark clouds, Portland Marathon Day dawned uber-rainy. With all my running gear within arm’s reach (gotta love hometown races!), it was my purple Lulu top and Asics hat I pulled on. (The hat is made from a lightweight water-shedding nylon.) Regardless of an injury, Julie was toeing the marathon start line, too, so the hat was a nod to her as well. Near mile 23, I passed Julie, who was walking with a pronounced limp. But flashing her signature smile, she urged me to keep up the good work. As I pulled away from her, she shouted, “go, purple hat, go!”
So take a guess what hat I packed for the Philly Half recently? Yeah, you got it. Ol’ Purple. Late, after I posted a race day photo on Facebook, Julie and I got into an email exchange about the Asics topper. She wrote: “I wanted to comment on the purple hat from Philadelphia Half pics, but didn’t want to be overkill with the meaning the purple hat has for me...:) Purple hat...Chasing after a goal... going hard...using inspiration of someone else to keep pressing on....”
Wow, forgive my purple prose about my hat, but it felt good to know it wasn’t just me the hat spoke to. And, as Julie pointed out, “I’m sure many have ‘purple hats’ of their own!” So, tell us, do you? Is there a special piece of gear or apparel—maybe some socks, a headband, or a sports bra—that spells success and determination for you?