Yeah, I run. Pretty consistently. And I love it.
The Humble Beginnings
On all accounts, it was a smart move by the coach. I spent my previous summer drinking tons of Snapple and watching tons of Family Matters reruns. My favorite hobby was requesting songs on the local radio stations. My main exercise was jumping on the trampoline with my sister. It was a great summer! But physically lazy. And by the time I went to soccer practices, my body was shaped like... something different. I've always been skinny. And I was skinny then. Only then, my body was shaped like a pear and I had little spaghetti arms. After realizing I just wasn't that athletic, I tried making a team nobody gave a crap about: Cross country. How did try-outs go? They didn't have enough people, so they just added me on! It was great!
I wasn't very fast. I always finished at the tail-end of JV races. Due to lack of team participants, I once ran a Varsity race! I finished dead last. But I'll never forget running that race. The Amador High School mascot (some guy in a buffalo costume) was blocking my path when he thought all the runners had passed him, so I pushed him out of the way. Turd.
My sophomore high school fall season was spent playing soccer for Jerome High School in Idaho. I started JV defense and even got some Varsity playing time toward at the season's end. I just assumed I'd be playing Varsity when I came back my junior year. I made some good friends on cross country team, so I was going to both soccer and XC practices for about a week. My soccer coach found out about it and made me practice with JV. He said I could either stick with soccer and play Varsity, ot I could do both sports and play JV soccer. That was the last soccer practice I ever attended.
So I took a risk and chose the sport I was historically bad at. I ran some JV, ran a little Varsity. It was worth it to me because I was getting better. The top 7 runners make Varsity, and I finished 6th for the team at the District meet. There was hope for me!
My senior year began all too familiar to my senior year. I always finished with the 7th or 8th best time for the team. I once won a JV race! I won a race! But it was JV. And I was a senior. I took my cookie and walked away. I remember getting my PR at a Jerome race later, which was temporarily exciting. Everybody else got theirs too. And I found myself back on JV. I had to run a JV race on the Twin Falls golf course in the canyon. I felt like I hadn't been running to my potential. I had something to run for. So this time, I did something I had never done before: I competed.
The race had a couple hundred runners and I got 6th place. I beat my PR. I moved up to Varsity with the 6th best time for the team! Next race? I crushed that PR and entered the 17:00 range! I stayed up with our best runners for the rest of the season, which included my best run at the state championship meet! I got 3rd for the team and top 50 in the race! Since I was on such an ascent, I decided to run track that spring. On our first meet, I ran the 1600m in under 11 minutes and I even made the paper. I was improving! But I quit the team entirely to focus on the school musical and the Advanced Speech team. Respectively, some people called me a quitter. But I kept running...
|JHS XC, State Academic Champions!|
Hero-to-Zero (to hero again)
I spent that summer at Redfish Lake, where I learned the painful joy of mountain running. I'd usually just run 4 miles or so, but I knew I could do more. When I started attending CSI (junior college in Twin Falls), I decided to run the Perrine Bridge 10k. And I won! The run felt great and even though there was limited competition, it was a notable achievement.
|Won the 10k with a 39:43|
Everything after that race sucked. I ran less and I ran poor. I then served a 2-year LDS mission where I only ran 5 times within those 2 years. Slowly, I became a consistent runner after my mission. I knew it would be a good way to beat out my stress/anxiety/whatever. It was spring semester 2013 at USU where I started making it my reality. I would park my car in the snow and run 4 miles at the indoor track at USU. And it didn't suck. I spent my summer experimenting running in the neighborhood. You ever been to Logan? People live on the side of mountains. So I'd check it out up there, on foot. My fall semester had some lengthy, spirited runs. By 2014, I decided I'd try my very first half marathon.
|My 2013 running selfies were relentless|
The Magic Era
My half marry training during spring semester 2014 is a glorified period of my life. I would just run for miles everyday. Like, in the friggin snow. Against the wind. And I felt perfectly fine. 0 pain. I could legitimately run 10 miles whenever I wanted and it would just feel like a normal day. This is what people on the actual USU XC team were doing. Mind you, I was just making up a training plan off the top of my head. 3 weeks before my race, reality hit my body like a train. My knee started giving out on me. I ran with a knee brace for the next 3 weeks. Did short jogs. My doctor said my training plan was a bad idea. When the race day came, I was nervous. I knew I could be a contender. What could make my knee better all the sudden? Adrenaline. Last-minute adrenaline.
I ran the Striders Ogden Half Marathon. It was in the Hunstville/Eden area in Ogden canyon. I figured it would be a small outing. This race was so much huger than I imagined! They were sending multiple bus-loads of people to the starting line! They left no empty spaced, either. I remember sitting over the bus wheel (arg!) crammed next to some old guy who couldn't tell that I really didn't want to talk to him. So there are hundreds of people there... and I ran perfectly fine. I finished 17th place! I ran 81:04! The top 20 got medals! I got 2nd place in my age group! Everybody else who beat me was older than me! Which could only mean-- to me, at the time-- those people will be me some day! Only a couple years and I myself could win a half marathon! It only makes sense, right?
Wrong. In fact, my running habit since then deserves its own running metaphor. Since that race, it's all been very slow... and all downhill.
|Not too shabby!|
All Downhill From Here
A half marathon is 13.1 miles. I was in 12th place for the first 11 miles. I was getting consistently passed at the end of that race. My run as a whole that day was great, but I definitely didn't finish strong. I was dying those last 2 miles. And I've died on many runs since then. I had many cases of shin splints that summer, and running suddenly was no longer fun. I ran the Redfish Memorial Day half marathon in 2015, Finished top 10, but there weren't a lot of other runners (top 3 got medals). And I felt like crap the whole time. I pushed through that summer with some difficult mountain runs, but my stage management major took over my life when I got back to school. I still had the perseverance, but not the time. I'd run 8 miles on Monday afternoon, run 8 miles Saturday afternoon, and call it good. I wasn't training smart enough to do a half marathon this year, so I settled for a 10k this year. I got 4th (top 3 got medals) and even though my performance was just fine, I felt like crap.
The $90 specialty shoes I bought in March have plenty of arch support, but the outside has been deteriorating all summer. I took all of July off from running since nothing felt right. I've had a couple okay runs this month, but nothing over 5 miles. And I still take walk-breaks more than usual. It hasn't been pretty. To cap it all off, I sprained my ankle tonight in a pickup game of basketball.
Oh the humanity! The moment it happened, I knew it was bad. I took my shoe off a couple hours ago and my ankle has inflated to the size of a grapefruit. And growing. I'll have to rest for at least two weeks. With this injury, plus how mediocre/bad my runs have been this month, I can't help but wonder: Is this the end?
I love distance running. It eases my stress. It's where I've come up with my best, clearest thoughts. It gets me feeling confident, strong and dedicated. But lately, I feel like I've been clinging on to something old. I have a show to stage manage next semester. Could this be the end of my running days? My "good" running days? Is there really such a big physical difference between being 23 and 25? I'm taking a hyperfit class next semester, but will that do the trick? Do I need to start at square one next year? Or quit all together? Is this the end?
|It's gotten bigger since I took this photo. At the time, I downloaded this photo to a desktop so I could upload it to my blog. Now? I cannot even walk to that desktop due to the pain.|