It takes a lot to impress an editor. My idea to run my first race ever and then write a story about the experience drew only mild interest. And that was only if I could run fast enough to meet the midmorning deadline.
So when I showed up for work on Monday morning after finishing the Deseret News-KSL Radio 10K race in just about an hour, I wasn't expecting a standing ovation.Even though I had just completed the most athletic endeavor of my nearly 30-year-old life, I tried not to show my pride as I walked into the newsroom with my race number, 490, still pinned to my official race T-shirt.
"How'd you do?" my editor asked, without a word about my sweaty clothes.
"I did it in about an hour, I guess," I said. "I'm not sure. I had to ask a guy standing around what time it was after I finished. He told me the time was 7:18 a.m."
Without blinking, my editor asked, "Is that any good?"
I almost dropped the quart-sized bottle of Gatorade I had picked up after the race. "Well, uh, it's my best 10K time," I stuttered. "It's, uh, my only 10K time."
I went to my desk, suddenly feeling just a little silly in purple nylon running shorts, even if they did match my T-shirt. (No accident. Before I decided to enter this race about two weeks ago, my chief form of exercise was strolling through shopping malls.)
The hardest part of the day was still ahead - I had to write the promised story about the race. Where to begin? It was still dark and I was still half-asleep when I was dropped off at the start of the race course by my husband.
I was so tired I didn't get his attempt to bolster my confidence.
"Is Shamrock Meats a sponsor?" he had asked.
"Shamrock Meats," he repeated. "You know, `Rocky'? The movie?"
Suddenly, I was thinking of Sylvester Stallone pounding on sides of beef. Just the kind of image a lifelong vegetarian needs on top of an already nervous stomach.
The long lines outside the portable restrooms proved I wasn't the only anxious runner. But when the start was announced and the thousands of race participants began moving, I forgot all about my nerves.
The only thing that seemed important at the start of the race was keeping the pounding feet behind me from trampling over me. And that meant moving along at a quicker pace than what I had expected to be able to muster.
I was still passed by runner after runner after runner after . . . well, most of the pack. Finally, just before we turned off Foothill Boulevard onto 13th East, I passed my first runner. He was wheezing.
Then my run slowed to a walk as 13th East sloped uphill. I kept listening for the familiar wheeze but made it to the first of several aptly-named aid stations and gulped down a cup of Gatorade.
Flinging the cup onto the littered street, I felt a little like Rocky. I ran through some sprinklers. "Yeah," I said, "I can do this." That spirit lasted a few more blocks, when I again slowed to a walk.
That was pretty much my pace throughout the rest of the race. Spurred on by paper cups of water and the onlookers who shouted words of encouragement, it was easy to forget I'm not much of a runner. But then my body would remind me, and I'd slow down.
The strangest part of the race came when I was able to spot the finish line - really, a line of police cars parked with lights flashing outside Liberty Park. Somehow, I thought just the idea of the finish line being in sight would renew my energy.
But I had to slow down to a walk several times after the turn from Main Street onto Ninth South. It wasn't until the men became separated from the women that I got that last burst of energy.
Charging through the finish chute, I couldn't believe how little I hurt. I also couldn't believe there wasn't something more left to the race. Then I remembered the really important finish still ahead - my deadline.