Frank Z. Racing on a Whim

I played sports growing up—wrestling, soccer, and baseball—and always ran as a part of these activities. But I never considered myself a runner. It was always a chore, and painful one in that. I’ve had asthma since as far back as I can remember and running always seemed to flare that up. So my running was limited. It was a means to an end, having enough endurance for specific sports, but nothing more.

It wasn’t until Spring of 2013 when I went on my first proper distance run. Mike, a coworker I had been on a few hikes with, threw the idea out there. Apparently Mike was under the impression I was a runner. He was wrong. But regardless, I said I was in. We ran a route up 15th Street and then looped through Camel’s Back. I had that all too familiar sensation most new runners have: I thought I was going to die. My lungs screamed at me to stop and my legs burned. But I pressed on, made it through, and we finished the route at Mike’s place. Hands on my knees, gasping for air, I asked, “How far was that?” Mike replied, “Probably about 3.5 miles.” I was ecstatic. “That’s the furthest I’ve ever run!” Mike looked at me with a funny look, “You mean like ever?”

Yes. This was the beginning. I began running once a week with Mike and eventually started to mix in a few treadmill runs per week as well after lifting at the gym. We slowly extended the length of our runs and by the end of summer, we were running around 8 miles a pop. Mike threw the idea out there about jumping in a race. I asked what some good options would be and he suggested the City of Trees (COT) Half-Marathon. I’d never been in a race, had only recently learned the distance of a half-marathon, and was skeptical how running in a race would be any different from a training run. I decided against it.

Mike moved away and I continued to run a few times per week. And while I enjoyed (and still do) my solo runs, I missed the conversations that ensue when training with a partner. I searched the web for Boise running groups. This is when I found BAR. I came out for a Thursday evening run at Camel’s Back. I spotted a motley crew of unmistakable runners forming a circle. I went up and chatted briefly with a few people. We all exchanged introductions, talked about the potential routes, and then we were off. Up Kestral. This was my first legitimate trail run out in the Boise Foothills.  I still remember the peaceful feeling I had while cruising down Red Cliffs, watching the sunset over Downtown. This BAR group seemed to know some good running spots.

I continued to run with the group over the coming weeks. Late September rolled around and we were gathered in the Griddle after a Saturday morning run. Breakfast talk turned to upcoming races. Someone turned to me and asked what I had coming up. “We’ll I’ve never done a race, but I had thought about the City of Trees Half . . . .” I trailed off, failing to mention I had decided against that. My response was met with enthusiasm and encouragement. My cohorts quickly convinced me to give it a shot and see what happened. So I did.

Race day, COT 2013. I still didn’t have a watch. Or proper running gear for that matter, other than my pair of Saucony running shoes. Race day seemed cold, around 40 degrees or so. So I wore a cotton undershirt along with a long sleeve thermal. And basketball shorts. I still didn’t really think of myself as a runner at this point. Racers lined up and I found a spot near the middle of the pack. Someone asked me what my goal time was. “About 1:40.” In reality, I hadn’t thought about this very much. I didn’t even know what pace I would need to run a 1:40. I knew Mike ran low 1:20s and figured an extra 15 to 20 minutes seemed about right.

The gun went off. I went out at a brisk pace that still seemed comfortable. A few miles in a joggler passed me. I didn’t know the term joggler at the time. And for those of you who may still be unaware: joggling is the “art” of running while juggling. Simple enough. Except this joggler was beating me. Competitive instincts kicked in and I made sure the joggler didn’t pull away from me. This meant picking up the pace and stepping outside my comfort zone.

I kept with the joggler until mile 7 or 8 when he slowed at an aid station for water. I continued pushing, determined not to be passed at this point. I turned into Julia Davis Park for the final 5k (on the old COT course). I started to struggle pretty bad here. I was in uncharted territory, with my longest run to this point being 9 or 10 miles. Two runners passed me and suddenly I found a second wind. I grinded through the last few miles and the finish line came into site. I kicked with what I had left and saw the clock as I passed through the chute. 1:39:38. Grinning ear to ear, I knew I was hooked.

Mile times and Dry Creek

This was a good week of running. On Tuesday, we had our Monthly Mile with several people setting new PRs! Great job everyone, times are posted on the page. Then on Sunday, it was the first Sunday of the month which means it’s new trail time. This time we made it to Dry Creek which we missed in November due to rain. This time the trails were fine and it was a great run. Below is a photo of the trail head (granted, it was the day before our run, but still a great trail). Looking forward to next month for more mile times and new trails to explore. See you out running soon.