Just over a week ago I ran the Colfax Half Marathon, which was, incidentally, my first long race. The entry fee was $50–reasonable compared to many other races– but I still balked, calculating what else the money could buy me.

I ended up coughing up the dough for several reasons. I had decided to start training as a way to create a positive structure to my days. 2009 started out with a negative bang, and I was determined to turn it around. I had also spread the word that I was training, and my friends insisted on being ridiculously supportive. People cheered me on at the finish line, and a friend offered to jump in and run the last few miles with me. Their energy was contagious.

The race itself embodied that same spirit. As we ran, locals lined the streets to cheer. At the fourth mile an old woman leaned forward in her wheelchair, and as I ran by she looked up to say, “Keep on running, mother-*&%$ers!”

Farther down, four high school girls danced around a boom box, giggling and yelling for us. Toddlers offered high-fives. Older couples handed out gummy bears.

Beyond the support of friends and the chance to see the community in a new way, the fact that I could achieve a physical goal (albeit, slowly) in a public place helped boost my confidence. And, in the end, $50 was well worth a fresh look at how much I appreciate my friends, my city, and myself.

What’s your favorite splurge?

E-mail me at jennie@5280.com, and I’ll share your splurges here at Cheap Thrills and what makes them worthwhile.