Whereupon I bite off more than I can chew

By Jamie Balke Explore Big Sky Columnist

After a several year hiatus from running, I did the Run to the Pub last year with friends. I had never run 6.2 consecutive miles, and it was at once terrible and unexpectedly fun.

It wasn’t fast, and it wasn’t pretty, but I jogged the whole way. Each time I reflect on that day, I feel a vestige of the runner’s high, elated and proud. But then, my grin fading, I think of the guy in the cumbersome Viking costume who smoked me in the final mile.

Since that day, I’ve been relatively consistent in my training, and have completed two more races.

Unfortunately for me, my highly motivated running buddies have been dreaming bigger than 5Ks, and prod me to keep up. I’m anxious to report that this year, one of them convinced me to sign up for the half marathon Run to the Pub.

This turn of events is most distressing because the next logical goal will be a marathon. Maybe I’ll do so poorly in the half marathon that my friends will leave me alone. One can only hope.

My brother and I purchased a treadmill in November in an effort to prepare for what feels like an impossible task. It’s used and pretty basic, but it gets the job done and only sometimes makes disconcerting noises. Although I would prefer to run outside, I’m profoundly uncoordinated, and try to avoid tangling with icy sidewalks.

Before acquiring the treadmill, my indoor runs transpired at the gym. The machines were quite sturdy compared to my current home model, but distractions from the mind-fraying tedium of treadmills were limited at the gym.

Reading while running was out of the question, and while the people watching was somewhat engaging, it’s hard to watch for too long without those people noticing. There were some TVs there as well, but it seemed like they were always showing basketball or infomercials.

I tried playing different types of music loudly, but found that after a half hour on the treadmill, nothing on my iPod could motivate me to keep running in place. I even tried listening to stand-up comedy, which did the trick in terms of distraction, but resulted in me laughing like a lunatic at jokes only I could hear, while sweating profusely.

At home, this boredom problem is easily solved with my old friend Netflix. My out-of-control Netflix addiction pairs nicely with my need to stay on the treadmill for extended periods of time during the longer training runs.

Also at home, I have the support of my dog Finn, who sleeps by the treadmill, occasionally rousing himself to shoot me confused, worried looks for motivation.

After signing up for the half marathon, my friend and I checked out the course map. It turns out that unlike the 10K, the half-marathon race starts with about three miles of steady incline. Next time I’ll review this type of information before committing to anything.

I’m feeling rather underprepared and a little nervous, but am also pretty excited that, rather than calling it good after last year’s race, I’ll be running farther than ever.

Jamie Balke needs to find some friends who prefer watching Netflix to training for long runs.