My undergraduate college, Whitworth, had an amazing workout facility. It was completed during my sophomore year. Bright and shiny machines filled the room. Mirrors lined the walls and multiple televisions (with cable!) were hung from the ceiling. With late night hours, it was easy to go over for some time on a treadmill, stationary bike, or weights circuit.
And so I did. About once a month.
Meanwhile there was also a frozen yogurt available in the cafeteria. Which I had. About once a day.
You can see the problem.
In 2003, my friend Jenny invited me to join her in participating in the Bloomsday 12K race. Bloomsday is a major event in Spokane with thousands of runners and walkers every year. I had seen the finisher shirts on campus each May, but had not looked into signing up myself. Jenny had done it before, promised to stick with me, and was the perfect combination of cool-weird-kind that I knew would be fun.
With a once-a-month exercise routine, I signed up for my first race.
And for those of you know quite sure of the math: a 12K is 7.4 miles.
And for those who did not know me in college: my weight was somewhere around 230 (I stopped tracking for a long while while wearing XXL clothes).
On the morning of the race, Jenny snuck me into her corral (I’d signed up wrong) so we could stick together. For the next 12K, we walked along the streets of Spokane. The only times we ran were for the mile marker signs. The theory was that was where the most crowds would be and any race photographers. So eight times (mile markers plus finish line) we busted into a sprint for a block, maybe two, then returned to our sauntering pace.
I’m not sure how long the race took us. My next memory was of the most delicious cheeseburger ever with Jenny’s family. If every race meant getting a burger like that, I was in. Plus my complete lack of understanding about calories had me confident we had earned ever drip of ketchup on those fries.
The next morning I wore by finisher shirt while limping around campus. Turns out walking seven miles without training leads to a week of pain. Doh!
It would be six years after that Bloomsday experience before I signed up for another race, and that time I’d try running much more. And now in 2020, due to COVID-19, I was able to participate in Bloomsday again.
I still love a good cheeseburger after a long run, and I still enjoy traveling the miles with a friend. And I still make poor life choices about signing up for lots of miles without quite enough preparation. Ah well. Maybe next time.