I picked up running as an exercise option last fall, trying to find something different than the biking that I’d been doing. My sister (and her husband) and also Linda’s sister had been running for a couple years. I thought to myself, ‘if they can do it…”.
My hatred of running
One must understand how much I’ve hated running throughout my entire life. Being made to run a mile in 5th grade made my side hurt with cramps every time. When I ran any time in middle or high school, the same thing happened and I was always at the back of the pack. I’ve never been fast and I have NEVER experienced a runners high.
Upon joining the Army, I was made to run a lot. Despite the multiple opportunities to get better at running, I never found any joy and actually came close to despising the exercise. The only thing I hated more were the pushups that were also required. One of my driving reasons for leaving the military was having physical exercise (including the running) as part of my job requirement (as a nurse). To put it plainly – I hated running. The only time (and last time) that I ran since then was about 15 years ago when I ran a bit for exercise during medical school.
I need to lose weight
Back in the fall, I decided I needed to do something about my weight as I had slowly gained back all the weight I’d lost back in 2010. After losing almost 35 pounds, I’d gained it all back by enjoying my food and craft beer. Biking did it’s best to keep my weight in check, but it wasn’t providing the needed kick to get the calories burned and help convince me to drop extra calories. I began to run a couple miles on the treadmill at the gym. This was a good beginning.
I started using a few apps on my phone to start tracking everything I did. I used MyFitnessPal to track my calories and RunKeeper to track my runs. When February came around and the Bill Snyder Highway Half Marathon was announced, I quickly made the decision to run the race. I’ve never run a 5K or a 10K or anything close to it. I used the RunKeeper app to create a training plan.
I ran alternating 3 and 4 mile runs with increasing distances each week. Eventually I was up to 12 miles, but quickly found my left knee a bit sore. As I would get to distances past about 5 or 6 miles, I had a hot-poker pain in my left knee every time my left foot struck the ground. If I stopped and walked, the pain would almost go away; but resuming the run would recreate the pain. As a physician, I had no real answer as to why this was the case. I chose to rest the knee as much as I could and take it easy on the runs to prevent extra stress on the knee.
The rehabilitation and rest seemed to work as I was able to do the race this past week.
Linda and I celebrated our 22nd anniversary on May 22 last week. We went to Manhattan the night before the race to pick up the race packet. We also enjoyed our anniversary with a nice dinner at Bourbon & Baker. We stayed at one of the new hotels built in the downtown area; it was a gorgeous place and amazingly comfortable.
Because we were being bussed to the starting line in the morning, I was in bed by 9:30pm; unfortunately, I tossed and turned all night. I even had weird dreams that the race was really a front for a drug cartel and the race was not happening – all that training for nothing. I eventually woke early at 4:45am and was out the door by 5:15am.
I met a line of school buses at the Bill Snyder Family Stadium. They were there to bus the 1,008 participants out to the start line near I-70 on Highway 177 (The Bill Snyder Highway).
Once out at the start point (at 6am for a 7am start), we stood around trying to stay warm in a 55-degree morning with a brisk southerly breeze. I stood there shivering, thinking of all of the energy I was wasting by shivering. I met up with several friends from high school and enjoyed catching up while discussing all of our training that we’d done.
The race started with the first 8 miles running along Highway 177, over the viaduct and into town. The first 8 miles is essentially all downhill with the slightest elevation at one point. Around mile 6, there is a long downhill that lasts almost a mile. My average pace of 10:00/mile was quickly improved while running 8:11/mile going down the downhill.
Linda brought her bike so that she could jump around to see me at different spots along the race route. She was able to meet me at mile 8 (where I was able to dump off my jacket with her).
After getting around the mall and turning on Poyntz Ave, it was nice to finally be in town and no longer out on the highway. It felt like I was almost done, but I still had 5 miles to go. Fortunately, the knee was feeling really good.
There were water spots every 2 miles or so and also GU available every 4 miles or so. I had been a bit worried about my hydration status along the race (especially since I’ve never experienced this), but the water spots were perfect. It’s a bit hard trying to drink from a cup while running; I eventually started to walk briskly through these spots to get the water and Gatorade down (and not wear it on my face).
After running through downtown on Poyntz, we ran around City Park and then down Moro in Aggieville. There were supporters all along the route with signs and clapping. Best sign I saw: “Worst Parade Ever”. I honestly laughed out loud.
After passing through Aggieville, we crossed in to campus and ran through Kansas State University and then into the Jardine area next to the stadium. Once I could see the stadium, I felt amazing and really felt like I might be able to get the race done around the 2-hour mark. My goal was to have it done within 2 hours and 30 minutes. However, despite being able to see the stadium, I still had about 2 miles to run (or almost another 20 minutes).
Linda was waiting for me as I entered the parking lot at the stadium (with another 0.75 miles to go). It was at that point that I knew I was going to make it. I picked up the pace and put it all out there!
Click HERE for a video of me crossing the finish line.
Brian Schottler is one of my high school friends that had been training alongside me for this race (via RunKeeper app only). He finished a bit quicker than me, but was there with high-fives and a big smile!
Looking forward to more running – because I love running now and I’m hooked!
By the way – I lost the 35 pounds that I wanted.