My Amazing Race

On Sunday, June 17th, which was also Fathers’ Day, I ran in my first race ever. The event was a half-marathon, and I registered for the 10km challenge. I’d only run 10km a few times leading up to the race, so my goal for the day was just to complete the race.

Let’s step back and look at my running history first:
-I ran a mile a day for about six weeks in 2001.
-I ran a kilometer a day for two days in 2005.
-I started running more seriously in late September/early October, 2011. This was when running ¼ of a kilometer was a big achievement for me.

Health history related to running:
-I smoked rather heavily and regularly for more than 11 years.

Not a very nice picture of running health, is it? However, I was determined to at least finish this race and made a training schedule for the five weeks leading up to the race that had me training over 120km, so I thought that would be worth something. Training was tough. I had to run in the rain more than once, but stuck to it as I wanted to have a decent showing in the race.

In the week leading up to the race, I was tapering off my long runs to allow my legs to recover and be ready for the 10km. However, during this final week, my shins started to feel sore when I tried to run faster, which was worrying to me.

I was also concerned because this race was going to be on a mixture of asphalt, gravel and dirt roads, and I had been training on a concrete track across the street from my office. There was also a slight incline at the end of the race, and I’d had no experience tackling inclines either.

Before the race

Finally, the day of the race was upon us. Lillian, a friend of mine and a very experienced runner who was also running the 10k with me, gave me some pointers on strategy. The night before the race it had rained, so we had no idea what kind of condition the route was in. But then the air horn sounded and we were off.

Getting off to a good start

I started out slow. I was worried about my shins getting all sore. Suddenly, I noticed that I was passing a few people. And then a few more. By the time I hit the 2.5km mark, I was only passing people, and kept on doing it. I even passed up people right in the final kilometer of the race. My shins felt great and the different running surfaces posed no problem to me.

When I finally crossed the finish line, I looked at my watch and realized I’d done it in less than an hour, faster than I’d ever run on the track. Things had paid off.

After finishing

I didn’t realize until the day after the race that I had actually finished third in my category, something that I hadn’t even dreamed of achieving in my first race ever.

Mud from the road on my legs after the finish

The list of people I have to thank is very long and in no particular order, and is probably incomplete, but here goes:

-Ngân, my wife, for hanging out and waiting for me to finish my training on the track five days a week and encouraging me. Without her support I could not have completed my training.
-Trúc, a former colleague who inspired me to get out onto the track and run in the first place.
-Alicia, my college classmate and uber-runner who is always very encouraging.
-Galen Doug, a college buddy who sent me some brief emails that helped me get some of the basics of running down.
-Lillian, who signed up for the race with me and helped ease my nervousness before the start.
-Cheryl, my former boss and editor at the Mount Vernon News who is a superwoman runner and very encouraging to a beginner like me.
-Joseph Hainline, an old friend who I really haven’t seen for years who posted some encouraging messages on Facebook.
-My parents, who encouraged me from 12 time zones away.
-Angela, who posted a link on Twitter so that I knew about the race.

Souvenirs from the race


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