August 21, 2014
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I'll be passing through by 2:22:22
5/28/2014 12:49:09 PM

By Chad Kimberley 
Splash Column

There it is. I am publicizing the goal. I have placed a target on my back. I am laying down the gauntlet and opening myself up for failure. 

This number, this consistent stream of twos, is the time I will cross the finish line in my second half-marathon.

Now, immediately several of you are laughing out loud at my ridiculously slow time I am hoping to achieve at the Windermere Half Marathon, which is on the morning of June 1. But the reality is this will still be a full minute per mile faster than last year's effort which should allow all of you to surmise that I am NOT A RUNNER.

But despite my deep-seated belief that I am not a runner, I have come to realize on my near 40-year-old knees and ankles that basketball requires too many recovery days, soccer requires too many folks to play, swimming in a lake in the winter is not the smartest plan and lifting weights takes me back to my junior high days flailing about on the chin up bar and realizing that no matter how hard I swing my legs I was not going to propel myself above the bar. 

By process of elimination, running (or jogging at a slightly faster pace than walking) has become my go-to event to attempt to stave off the inevitable breakdown of the few joints that still work in my body. I am competitive enough to realize if running is my only option, I better improve on my effort from last race.

So, this year I set out to achieve greater results with a better plan. I would actually follow the running script that I printed off the internet. I would get up regularly at 4:30 to 5 a.m. to make sure I get in those mid-week longer runs (which for me is anything longer than three miles). And most importantly, I would do some hill work and run in all types of weather conditions to better prepare for the actual race day conditions. My plan was foolproof.

Then I ran into a deer. 

OK, I didn't literally run into a deer, but I had a showdown that caused me to rethink my plan. It was my first morning heading out around 5 a.m. when it was still dark out in the early spring. I was not more than a few blocks from my starting point when I saw a deer standing in the middle of the road up ahead of me. And he wasn't moving.

As I got close I kept assuming (foolishly) that the deer would hear me if he couldn't see me in the dark, get spooked, and move on with his day. He wasn't moving. I slowed down. He stared at me. I came to a stop.

Suddenly, the only image that I could think about was from the movie "Tommy Boy" with Chris Farley, when the deer in the backseat wakes up and goes on a crazy rampage, tearing apart the vehicle. The scene ends with the deer standing triumphantly over the car, and for a brief second I imagined my deer nemesis pounding me to the pavement and then celebrating its victory. 

I had two options: cowardice or courage. I chose courage as I slowly continued to jog toward my adversary. He flinched first and started moseying off to the side of the road. As I came parallel to him, he seemed to spook and charged back into the road toward me. I sprinted ahead. He sprinted alongside me. I sped up. He shot across the road in front of me. Finally, he found a gap between two houses and took off. I finished my run constantly looking over my shoulder expecting to see a herd of deer pursuing me. 

Upon completion, I made a very important decision. It was time to get a membership at the Liberty Lake Athletic Club.

It is not just that I feared being a statistic in the Liberty Lake police blotter (deer assaults man), but I hated running in the dark, I do not enjoy jogging in the rain and honestly it is kinda boring being out by myself. 

So, I headed over to the LLAC and picked up a three-month membership, which would carry me through the half-marathon. I quickly realized I loved indoor running. I found the treadmill was easier on my knees and ankles. I could control the amount of elevation and speed with a simple push of the button. I could watch the calorie number sky upward, which kept me motivated. And, most importantly, I could watch a whole episode of SportsCenter while knocking out some miles.

I actually found heading to the club on a regular basis helped keep me inspired for race day. I enjoyed seeing the same people and waving to the few I knew. And even though I haven't talked to the others who are working hard around me, I found a sense of community that we all were pounding, pedaling or stepping out mileage at the same time. I especially loved stopping in early on the weekends when it was quiet and there was a Premier League soccer match on, which coincided nicely with two 45-minute running sessions on those particularly long Sunday runs.

Now, as I prepare to bolt off the start line in my effort for the elusive 2:22:22, I am accepting that this may not be my last race, as I previously imagined. Perhaps I will stick to this treadmill routine that I have developed. I might just go crazy and add some laps in the LLAC pool to my exercise regimen. And maybe, just maybe, I will muster up the courage to head to the weights section of the club and begin pursuit of the elusive chin-up. 

And, of course, if all my semi-hard work fails miserably at the Windermere, I can always go for a new goal next year in my third attempt 3:33:33. 

Even I could make that. 

Chad Kimberley is a local teacher, coach and a resident of Liberty Lake. 

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