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TRL Member Spotlight: Minsang (Minoo) Song

1. How long have you been running and why did you start running? A little longer than a year. I actually really disliked running most of my life. The only times I would run were when I was told I had to (i.e., a coach/class), being chased by something (i.e., dogs), or running to catch something (i.e., a bus). Even when I was active in martial arts, I used jump rope as my main form of cardio because I felt it was more fun than running.

I started running because I was getting ready for the Army and, well…I had to get better at running. So, I guess I started running for the first reason I ran in the past. But I met so many great people through running that it has helped me stick with it, and now I actually enjoy it.

2. How long have you been part of TRL, and what drew you to the club in the first place? I’ve been part of TRL since about September of 2022. When I first started working on running, I was mainly doing hill sprints and trail runs on my own. One day, I ran with someone else and liked how it pushed me, so I looked for a running group.

I found Portland Running Company’s Tuesday track workouts on Meetup, and started coming out to Duniway for that. When I ran with PRC, I noticed someone in a red jacket and whiteboard, and a group that met at the picnic table. A little later, I met another guy who would’ve gone into Army training with me, a runner who used to run with TRL. He told me that the group always meets at Duniway is led by a guy with a whiteboard at the picnic table. He told me about the Red Lizards and how Rick is a coach who can help me out.

At the time, I definitely needed guidance, so the next Tuesday I walked across the field and joined the Red Lizards! Having Rick give me tips and modifications, especially for a beginner runner, was a huge plus for me in joining the Red Lizards, and later I also met so many great people and friends.

3. What do you do when you’re not running (job, family, school…whatever it is you’d use to introduce yourself outside of running)? Right now, I’m going through Army training, so when I’m not running…well, I’m training, ha-ha. Surprisingly, I wish there was more regular physical training here (Officer Candidate School), because with classes and assignments and other things, I’ve really needed to make time to do extra physical training.

Previously, when not running, I’d go for walks, hikes, lift weights, watch movies, etc. I was a huge martial arts nerd in high school and college until injuries caught up with me. I feel that I’m now mostly recovered from those injuries and know how to take care of my body and manage injuries significantly better, so I look forward to going back into it!

4. What’s your favorite distance/type of run (5K, half-marathon, marathon, ultras, relays, track, trail, etc.)? I definitely prefer the shorter distances! I’m not sure at my current running level I have a favorite distance, but I prefer the sprint type of workouts rather than distance. Perhaps I’ll come to like longer-distance runs as I get better at running. Other than trail runs, I’ve found long road runs to be rather monotonous and unengaging unless I have someone to chat with. I do enjoy trail runs, though, and one of the things I’ve been really missing during my time in Army training is going for a trail run and cooling off in a cold mountain stream water. When I was training in humid and miserably hot Missouri summer heat and the drill sergeants weren’t letting us take our sweaty uniforms off and cool off, I often tried to escape by imagining how nice it would be to go for a trail run and jump into a cold lake or stream to wash the sweat and heat away.

5. Where is your favorite place to run in the greater Portland area? For the area in Portland, I’d have to say Lower Macleay or Forest Park in general! I’m sure a lot of people in Portland already know, but Forest Park is really a special place. It’s not common to have that level of trail network and green space so close to the city and have it so well maintained! Outside of Portland, I love the WSU Vancouver property! It was closer to home for me, and has everything. It has a field with a mile loop around it, a trail that follows a cute little stream and a wooden bridge that crosses a stream, and a huge hill that I loved doing hill sprints on. I went for so many walks on the campus property as well, and even worked part-time there. It’s a really special place for me.

6. What’s your most memorable running experience (or experiences)?

A track meet at Lewis & Clark. I signed up for the 400 and the 4×400. I went in just to try it out with very little preparation and didn’t really tell anyone, because I knew I wouldn’t be doing very well. However, I was so pleasantly surprised by all the support from Rick and other TRL members!

My goal was to not come in last, and for some miraculous reason the guy who passed me earlier slowed down significantly and I came in before him, so I wasn’t last! But my gosh, that was one of the most excruciating experiences of my life. As much as I enjoyed training for it, I’m not sure how many more times I want to sprint a full 400m at 100% effort. During the last 100m it felt like every fiber in my body was screaming to stop, and it was so tempting to, but I was able to push through and finish. I was in so much pain, it almost felt hallucinogenic.

When I flopped onto the field turf after finishing, I remember how the turf felt like my friend’s dog and I just started petting it. Other people thought it was funny. My friend Adam still refers to it to this day.

From experiences like this, I learned to push through pain and discomfort. However, recently, we did a 4-mile timed run and I saw people who I used to pass start to pass me with about 300m left. I started running faster because it was frustrating that I felt like I was staying the same, whereas other people were getting faster. When there was about 100m left, I saw it as a distance I could sprint through—and they weren’t so far ahead that I couldn’t pass them again.

When I started the kick, my body was screaming “no,” just like in the last 100m of the 400. But I’d pushed through that at Lewis & Clark, so I tried to push through it again. But this time it was different. I ended up throwing up, while all those people I had just passed left me in the dust again, about 10m away from the finish line. Granted, I was running on about 2 hours of sleep due to an assignment, but it was still a learning moment. Perhaps not all pain and discomfort signals should be ignored, even if the finish line is close.

7. What’s the best running advice you’ve ever received? Two good tips were that running is a forward movement (not up), and to run gently/relaxed. I think they go hand-in-hand, because when you bounce a lot, you’re not using your energy efficiently to move forward or run gently. There are a lot of small tips that go into achieving these two things, but sometimes when I focus on different small tips too much, it just creates a mess in my head and overcomplicates things, whereas if I just use those two tips, it’s simpler and easier.

8. Tell us one fun fact, hidden talent, or something we don’t know about you, but should? I don’t really like to hide things about me, so if you know me, I think you probably know most things about me that you should know. However, I want to let everyone at TRL know how much I miss the group. During the beginning of Basic Training, when we were issued athletic shoes and I was switching out the insoles from my running shoes, I found the black track bits from Duniway, and it made me tear up because of how much I missed Portland and TRL. It really holds a special place in my heart and I’m counting the days until I can return and go for runs with the wonderful people there!

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