Recent race: 2014 Shamrock Run in 1:21:41 (8:29/mile pace)
Next race: Portland Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon this May – running as part of team NoPo Run Club
Khemerin Chean started running to escape from the everyday grind and norm. The third child out of five siblings, Chean works for UPS on weeknights and with his father on weekends, running the family landscaping business and their “Karaoke DJ gig.” (Sounds fun!) Despite this busy schedule, he makes time for running.
He typically would go to the gym three days a week to exercise as a way to relieve the stress of working and helping with two family businesses, but then he discovered running. “There was something about running outside with the breeze in your face and the sky above you, the fact that there are no four walls limiting your view towards your goal. So I started running because it made me feel good.”
Running was an activity that Chean always loved, and the health benefits are good too – but that’s about all he ever thought about it. Racing never crossed his mind until last summer. “The thought of paying to run was never an interest of mine, I flat out thought that it was stupid. I would always think, ‘why pay?’ when you can just run outside by yourself for free.” But he decided to test himself at an organized race – the MLK Dream Run 5k. The $20 registration fee meant that Chean “really had to commit” to the race.
Like many runners that are new to racing, Chean had a hard time sleeping before the race, but thanks to adrenaline, he actually felt pretty good when the race started. I’ll let him tell the rest of the story …
Khemerin Chean’s NoPo Run Club Story
I remember it was the last mile and my legs were heavy, cramped, and lungs gassed out. I was about to give up and wanted to just walk to the finish line, but right when I was about to give up, I remember this lady beside me, she probably knew what I was feeling looking the way I did, yelled, “follow my pace, you can do it!”
With those six words, she gave me my second wind and motivation to finish my first 5k.
I will never forget that; the camaraderie of a stranger sharing the same cause and the finish line. I remember finishing that first 5k in one hour. Ever since then I’ve been running and training for my first ever full marathon. I started to run by myself for a while, until I got my brothers into running. There was just something about running with others that just made running something more fun to do.
I found myself becoming a motivator for my family and friends. They saw what I was getting into and some just thought that it was a waste of time and some couldn’t wait to run with me. This year, I got my brothers, Khemera and Khemerong, to run with me at the Portland Shamrock Run. It was the first 15k for all of us. After all the training, time and dedication we put in the months prior; crossing the finish line was euphoric. I never felt so close to my brothers in a single event; until then.
After the Shamrock run, I continued to train with my brothers, but most of the time I was running solo. So I wanted to get out there and find some local run clubs, just to run with others and to socialize. I found the North Portland Run Club through Facebook, saw their video on YouTube and I decided to give them a try.
My first run with NoPo Run Club was on their “Sunday Run Day” event. On their Facebook page, it said “welcome to all skill levels,” so that made it welcoming and less intimidating for beginners like myself. We all met up at the brew stop in the Pearl district. After going around in an ice breaker introduction circle, we were off to Waterfront to make our loop!
I followed Mary (our go-to gal) to set a nice pace. Some ran longer than others and most of us did the loop once, but all of us met back at the brew stop for hive fives and a cold brew! I thought to myself, I get to meet new runners … who love running, and on top of that, I get to enjoy the second love of my life, beer!
I’ve done four runs with NoPo and when I can, I plan to do many more!
Running with NoPo Run Club had changed my view on running events and training. I don’t look at events as if I’m paying just to run, but I’m running for a cause. I feel good about donating my hard-earned dollars. I feel even better knowing that I’m a part of something bigger.
If something as simple as running can boost up a person’s morale, even their self-worth, then why not?
Now I dedicate my free time to train so I can train and cross the finish line. No matter if I finish 1st, 2nd, or last, it’s that sense of achievement and that feeling of accomplishment when you reach your own personal goal. I know running isn’t for everyone, but to some it’s euphoric.