Wednesday, July 25, 2012


I do not have the body of a runner. To give you an idea: at 5'9", I have the same inseam as my 5'3" wife, meaning that even though my torso is 6 inches longer than hers, our legs are the same length. Not only are they too short to be good running legs, but they are also supporting 6 inches of extra body mass. Add to that a propensity for allergies and an overweight body, and it is no wonder that I never enjoyed running when I was growing up.

That changed when we moved to Oregon. At the time, I was considering applying for a Navy scholarship to help pay for medical school, but I discovered that I would have to drop about 15 pounds in order to qualify for it. With that as my motivation, I started doing daily jogs on our apartment's treadmill, and once summer arrived, I began jogging in parks around the area. As my body started adjusting to the runs, and as I found podcasts on interesting topics that I could listen to while I run, I actually began to enjoy running, especially medium-distance runs.

Up until yesterday, though I had never run any races outside of elementary school track meets. Running was a solitary thing for me, something I enjoyed doing by myself or with one or two other people. Also, though I would keep track of either the amount of time or the distance I ran, I never would keep track of both at the same time. That way I could live in blissful ignorance about how slow I run. Running a race would change that - lots of people and no way to remain in ignorance about my rate.

My cousin Kristin, though, talked me into running my first race: The Speedy Spaniard. That 10K is held every July 24 as part of the Fiesta Days celebration in my hometown of Spanish Fork. As Sundy and I would be in Utah on the 24, Kristin convinced us to go run the race with her.

I anticipated that the elevation change, going from Portland to Utah, might make running in Spanish Fork a bit more difficult than I was used to, I did as much training in Utah as I could in the 3 weeks leading up to the race, including some long distance runs on the country roads in West Mountain and a 15-mile run from Orem High to Bridal Veil Falls and back. The training went well, and by the day of the race I felt ready.

Unfortunately, I made a few mistakes.

Mistake #1: Forgetting a shoe. On the morning of the 24, I woke up in Spanish Fork and discovered that I left one of my running shoes in Orem. My brother Sage was kind enough to lend me some of his shoes, which were a half size too big and not what I was used to, but serviceable. They ended up giving me shin splints.

Mistake #2: Not using the restroom before the race. I meant to take care of that, but the lines to the restrooms were too long before the race started, so I thought I could manage until the end of the race. Unfortunately, as soon as I started running, I had to pee, and the urge only got worse as I went along. Finally, at mile 3 I stopped to use one of the porta potties provided for us along the race track. Things got much easier after that.

Mistake #3: Starting out too fast. The gun went off, and people started running. Some of them were running pretty fast. The competitive guy in me pushed hard to keep up with them, even though I knew the rate was too fast. At the time, I told myself, "I'm used to running 15 miles, so I can handle 6.2 miles at a faster pace." Wrong. There were some big hills at the first, and I was tired even before I hit the first mile marker. And it never got easier. I felt like I had to fight for every footstep I took in that race.

Mistake #4: Not checking the race route beforehand. I knew that the race went from Canyon View Park to Spanish Fork City Park, but I didn't realize that the race route overshot the park by two blocks then looped around and completely circled the park. So I started my final sprint (if you could call it a sprint) too soon, and wore myself out.

I ended up running the race in 50:23, which worked out to about 8:08 a mile. Not bad, I guess (10th in my age division!), but I like to think that had I not made those 4 mistakes, I could have finished the race with a less-than-8-minute mile.

The Speedy Spaniard was not my favorite running experience. Kristin is now trying to convince me to run a triathlon. We'll see.

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