Running sucks. I’ve said those words my entire life. Sure, I could run a few feet when being chased by someone with a water balloon or sprint the 40 feet required to get the ball in a racquetball court. But running… the idea of going running, the feeling of running, the strategy of running, the understanding of how to be a runner – all of that was not appealing or understood by me.
Growing up Portland, OR, surrounded by elite Nike athletes, running enthusiast that would run relays from Hood to Coast, and triathlete nuts that would talk about how many miles they run, it seemed that I was out of place.
Can I be a runner? How do you become a runner? How do you run?
In 2016 I met my now wife, Erin Flinn, when she told me she was a runner and that she competed in college and was just about to start training for her 12th Half Marathon my initial reaction was… Woa! you’re basically a professional runner! As we dated I would be the support team for her when she was running – first a race in Seattle, then a race in Chicago. I must say, figuring out how to chase down a runner on the course is quite difficult when you don’t understand splits, km’s and the person’s average pace. Luckily there are a few running apps and bystanders that were able to help me figure it all out in the beginning.
The opportunity came up in November 2016 to go to Las Vegas, Erin was running the Half Marathon and I was all signed up for the 5k.
Running a 5k … I can do that.
That’s 3.1 Miles… Easy right? What was going on in my head before that race was all of the thoughts about how I thought Running Sucks! When I was younger, I remember sprinting around and running out of breath. When I was a bit older, I would run for a little while, only to have my knees and ankles feel like they were on fire. My lower back would hurt after playing roller hockey. All of these excuses for not running were piling up. But I could run 3.1 miles pretty easily, right? Wearing bib #71100 I flew out of the gate, determined to run quickly and get this darned 5k over with fast! Sure, it was a challenge, but I’m not a runner, what am I doing running this race? Half way through the race you feel like it’s been forever, your feet are hurting, you’re being passed by fast runners and people that look like they’re in worse shape than you are in. As I reach the finish line, I was actually feeling good – I don’t know if it was the adrenaline or the relief and excitement to be done with the 5k race. Either way, I was pretty happy to have finished by run/walking the Las Vegas 5k. With a whopping pace of 16 Minutes and 44 seconds, I finished the race in 51 minutes and 58 seconds. Post-race, I was feeling like running is a challenge that I can take on. I still don’t know what it feels like to run a 12 minute mile pace or if I am running in the correct form or not.
Within the next few months we signed up for the Portland Shamrock Run. Little did Erin know, but I was not only running this race, but also proposing! We started the morning at 5am – I was as awake as possible, Erin was sleepy and needed to get some coffee in the morning. While sitting at Starbucks, I sent her sister Jennifer (whom lives in South Korea!) a photo of Erin, saying that she has no idea that she’s about to be proposed to today! As the race started, my energy was flowing, friends and family were converging around mile 3 to help celebrate the proposal. Erin and I decided that we would run/walk the race with intervals of Run 2 minutes / walk 1 minute. As we rounded the last part of the race, I grabbed Erin’s hand – she thought we were going to power through the last part of the race – but I had other plans. In front of the water fountain, I got down on one knee and asked Erin to marry me – surrounded by runners, friends and family. With a YES, we sprinted to the finish line, excited to start our lives together!
After the 2nd 5k and a proposal, I had a new vision of running, It was something that I thought I could do. I could be a runner. I still didn’t know much about it, but I could learn.