Running is something that I haven’t always been in love with. During my formative years of sports in soccer and volleyball, running was something you had to do typically in the form of ladders, sprints, or laps. It felt like a form of punishment so therefore I didn’t really enjoy it that much…or at all. However, if you ask me today how I feel about running, I may just allude to it being akin to a religious experience.
When I was working up at LDS Hospital several years ago, I knew a few people that worked in mammography. As I was delivering a chart to their office one day, I noticed a sign-up sheet for employees only to participate in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. It was only the 2nd or 3rd time it had been held and mammography was helping to sponsor a team from IHC for the race. I looked and thought, Hmmm – 3 miles, I can do that and since they’re paying my way in, sure! Two months later I found myself at the starting line of the race which began at Franklin Covey Field, relishing the fact that I was a fit 20 year old who was going to run my heart out. This was, of course, naivete on my part as I had only “trained” for maybe 3 or 4 days prior to the race. I think I maybe ran 4 miles total before I participated in this race.
Bang! The starters gun (actually, it was a big, noisy megaphone but doesn’t Bang! sound better than Hoooooooonnnnnnnnkkkkkkk! ?) got the runners moving and I took off. The first mile and a half I was breezing along – dum di da, dum diddy dum di da – feeling my legs move like smooth butter on homebaked bread…er, whatever. At about mile marker 2, I started to feel a few things like oh, I don’t know, shortness of breath, stinging side pain, cramp in my stomach. Here’s the thing – I was sprinting the entire race without having trained for sprinting. And darn my competitive spirit, I was not going to back down and would finish strong! Even though I think I started to see little black dots…they were so pretty…
Anyway, I ended up crossing the finish line back in Franklin Covey Field (I miss that venue – the Gateway just doesn’t have the same feel, so commercial) with what I can say has been my best 5K time ever: 22:14 minutes. And then I proceeded to curse my legs for the next three days because I hadn’t trained them properly. Yet it was that race that got me hooked on running. Before I had participated in this first 5K, I was convinced that only real “runners” participated in races; surely they would discover I was a phony, a fraud, that I didn’t have that chiseled “I run 40 miles a week” look and they would laugh at me wanting to go and run. But I quickly found out that the adrenaline rush you get at the end of completing a race, whether it’s a 5K or a marathon, is an undeniable sense of joy and euphoria. Nothing beats that feeling of accomplishment and everyone should feel proud for completing a race no matter how big or small.
Naturally, I progressed onto more challenging races – 10K’s, then a 15K, until finally last year I went and signed up for a marathon. I did a half marathon just prior to it and I can say that last year was my busiest year in racing – three marathons, two halfs, and three 5K’s. I can finally feel comfortable calling myself a runner. In the throes of training I live/breathe/eat running. When I’m out of cycle it’s just a nice refresher to wake me up and get my heart pumping. If you have the opportunity to participate in a race – ANY race – do it! You’ll thank me for it later (after your quads and calves have stopped cramping and you can walk normal again). 🙂