Discovering My Joy of Running and Racing

Harish Guda


In the last few months, I took up running more actively, as I continue this journey of wanting to be more fit and healthy. I had written about my first race — ASU’s very own Pat Tillman Race — in an other post. I had such a runner’s high after my first race that I wanted more of it. Is this an addictive good? Hmm.

It was at this time that I started Googling what races happen around me, and the distances and speeds I should aspire to. I started signing up for 5ks in mid-April 2023, and realized quickly that 5ks wouldn’t cut it anymore. I wanted a longer, and perhaps, a more involved exercise.

The Long Phoenix Summer Lull

Then began the summer of Arizona and I stayed indoor until September. While running at Orangetheory was my main getaway, I kept signing up for races that I wanted to run once the cooler temperatures in Phoenix set in (in Fall and Winter). As my friends started to sign-up for various races, it had a complimentary effect on my decision, and I quickly realized I signed up for too many races.

Here are the races I will be running this cycle (before Summer 2024 kicks in):

Besides, I will also be running the Pittsburgh half marathon on May 5th, while I visit a friend there.

Phew! That’s quite a list.

While Strava is awesome, and I discover a lot of fun runs via Strava, I now created an Instagram account to document my race days, perhaps as a commitment device that makes me signup and run these races. My current plan is to do 10 X 10K’s a year, and 3 X half-marathons a year. Fingers crossed.

Training Routine

The bedrock of my training is Orangetheory. I have been a long-time OTF-er (more than 500 classes now), and I do not plan to quit anytime soon. I am supplementing my OTF classes with long runs. I joined a Strava group called DTPHX Run Club on their Thursday runs near the Tempe Town Lake for their long runs (about 9-11K).

The group also meets at other parts of Phoenix on other days, but I am quite time-constrained this semester.1 I have been struggling with a weird hip-flexor strain that prevents me from doing too many runs in a week.

Resources and Gear

While popular wisdom is that running is cheap, I found that a pain-free and a happy running experience is not. I had to invest a reasonable amount of money in buying the right gear: clothes, shoes, socks, water bottle, undies, sunglasses, etc. I will write a longer post on running gear, and cross-fit/OTF gear.

Besides, race signups also involves a significant amount of money.

Completed Races Thus Far

Here are the races I have finished thus far.

ASU West Homecoming Sparky Challenge

This was my first time visiting ASU’s sister campus in Glendale. This city has been in the news a lot, due to TSMC’s new campus, and the growing economic activity in this area. However, I was not super impressed with this city during my short visit – it just feels like suburban doom sprawl. Just, endless streets of cookie-cutter single family homes. I was impressed with the ASU West campus though. It has a close-knit, small campus feel (unlike Tempe’s mega campus).

The run itself was not too great. The run was organized at 3pm on a late October Sunday, where the temperature was about 39C. I hated most of the run, and had to take walking breaks every 15 minutes. My timing in this race was about 11:33 minutes/mile, arguably my worst timing due to the severe heat.

Run for Ryan House

Ryan House is a wonderful charity that supports families facing pediatric end-of-life situations. They also provide bereavement support for families before and after the death of a child. I support this organization through my run every year.

The race is organized in Mesa’s riverview park (next to the Spring training facility). It is a beautiful part of the town and I enjoy it quite a lot. The stretch over the top of the lake is quite enjoyable.

I did much better in terms of timing, about 9:58 minutes/mile.

Lululemon Scottsdale 10K

Scottsdale is arguably the most bougie city in the US. I never enjoyed the vibe – posh, fake, flamboyant – that I get in this city.

Nevertheless, the run was extremely well organized, with a lot of support from crowd. The registration was expensive (about $89), but the post race swag was great. The run starts near Old Town Scottsdale, and goes along the canal.

This was probably my best in terms of timing so far. I had gotten at 9:47 minutes/mile, and I believe I could have easily gotten a lot lower, but for the congestion (7,500 runners over a narrow strip is no joke!)

Looking Forward

The run I am most looking forward to is the Tempe Rock n Roll Half Marathon.2 I had walked, biked, and driven through these roads for the past five years, and I finally will race them. I will continue to train for the next two months, and will look to have fun in my first half marathon.

  1. This is my teaching semester, and I have a lot of research work to complete this semester. Reviewing papers is also taking up a significant amount of my time.↩︎

  2. If you are interested in running this race, please let me know. I will be happy to host you!↩︎