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Toastmasters Magazine Article: Vincent Kituku: Overcoming Life's Buffaloes
Meet Idaho's Latest Exports

Dr. Kituku Elected Grand Marshal of Boise State University Home Coming

The Race for the Cure  |  Year II: Racing for More Than Cure
Racing for the Cure While Praying for Sue  |  The Road to Conquering Robie Creek
Dr. Kituku featured in the Idaho Statesman  |  Claiming Idaho's Highest Summit
Leading Amateurs to Success  |  Robie Creek Vs Everyone (2006)
When Robie Creek Race Calls, You Participate (2006)   |   Doing Robie Creek as a Non-Kenyan Marathoner   |   What makes the Robie Creek Race Less painful

The Road to Conquering Robie Creek
"Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard." Source unknown

April 6, 1992 was the day I reported at Idaho Power Company to start employment. It was also the day I learned about the annual Race to Robie Creek. Since then I have lived with an unfulfilled desire to participate in that Race-that is, until this year. But to refer my heart's pain for not conquering Robie Creek as a mere desire is unfair. For twelve long years, every spring that Creek has screamed on me.

On January 13, I committed to brushing aside the excuses that have kept me out of the race for twelve years. I hit the YMCA. That is when it first occurred to me that goals involving physical challenges are different from the mental ones I am accustomed to. I weighed in at a little bit more than 240 pounds and found myself unable to run on a treadmill for 15 minutes-not really an encouragement to enter the toughest race in the Northwest. The half marathon race is 13.1 miles, an 8.4-mile climb to 4,797-foot Aldape Summit and a steep, 4.7-mile descent.

The date and time for the 2004 Race was set: April 17 at high noon. My immediate tasks were basic: to build endurance that could keep me physically active for a minimum of three hours, and to knock off some weight. There was no way I could drag my 240 pounds through the brutal last mile to the summit.

The initial motivation propelled me through the first two weeks. Every element of success became the fuel I needed to go through the next challenge. Within four weeks my endurance had developed to 60 minutes; but the ultimate measure of my seriousness was when I realized that ten 10 pounds of me were off. Not only that-my eating habits of four decades had changed, as well as other routines. When preparing for trips, I began to check ahead with the hotels to make sure they had a fitness center.

Committing to a goal when aware of the initial challenges is one thing. Overcoming the obstacles presented by unexpected challenges is another thing altogether. Flu and body pains were the minor ones. More difficult to combat was the discouragement that set in when, after the initial successes, I could not find one thing to be proud of in my journey from mid February to early mid March. Five pounds of the lost weight found their way back. I missed the registration by one day. I had mailed a check instead of registering online.

Nevertheless, I found myself still determined to exercise regardless of whether my weight loss was holding on or I ever get into the race. I realized I was committed to more than a race. It was something I only could do for myself. I had fallen in love with what I was doing and hearing people ask, "Vincent, have you lost weight? You look fabulous."

By the end of March I was running/walking eight to twelve miles at a stretch and was fifteen pounds lighter. On March 30, I ran and walked to the Aldape Summit and walked downhill three miles. I also discovered that what you wear, (e.g., socks shoes and underwear) not only helps to keep you comfortable both uphill and downhill, but also affects what you can achieve in this kind of regiment.

April caught up with me still unregistered for the race. My efforts to buy a race ticket from anyone, who for one reason or another was not going to participate in the race were fruitless up until just two weeks before the race.

Three months of physical and mental preparation for the Race to Robie Creek made events of April 17 2004 endurable. On the day before the race, the weight scale registered 218 pounds when I stepped on the plate. Even so, I still had some anxiety about this humongous undertaking.

The mood of the participants, volunteers and supporters on the day defies description. The atmosphere surrounding the myriad of social fabrics of the Race to Robie Creek has to be experienced, not described.

Two groups participating in the Race in one way or another, left imprints time may never erase from my mind. One was the volunteer group, whose support brought another perspective. Their presence must be one of the reasons why many participants find the courage and energy to complete such a challenging endeavor.

The other was the group of senior citizens participating in the race. They were both a humbling force and a major source of inspiration. At the Race's moment of reckoning, from the seventh-mile point to the summit at 8.4 miles, several senior citizens passed me as if they had just begun the race. One lady, probably in her late 60s, will stick in my memory. As I struggled to reach the summit, I heard someone approaching with heavy breathing. By the time I turned to find out who it was, she caught up with me. Smiling, and with no sign of relenting, she looked at me and said, "Hi son!" One more curve and I never saw her again.

I hope and pray that when I approach my 70s and beyond I'll be as active as these people.

I crossed the finishing line smiling and re-invigorated. In retrospect, I realized that I have celebrated various successes in life, especially in my academic and professional endeavors. But nothing could compare to achieving this physical goal. I retired my training T-shirt that I used on the race. It was a special gift from my wife with BLESSED MAN inscribed on the front.

Lessons Learned During Preparation
and At the Event


Hard work, not just talent, is the main currency that will get you through.
No room for negative thoughts, whether in practice or at the real thing.
3. Expect the bitter truth. No one says the race is easy.
Average participants will do themselves a favor by scaling the race course at least three times before the event.
For non-award seeking runners and walkers, preparing and doing the thing with a relative or a friend is the way to go.
Graduate from indoor training. Hit rough roads, hills and slopes in any weather.
Learn what past participants write and say about the race, but don't let what they say discourage you.

The long training times are excellent opportunities for reflection and meditation. As a writer and speaker I mentally wrote many articles (including this one) and prepared speeches during practice.

Let the people you care for know about your undertaking. Their support will, at times, be the fuel you need for one more training session.

If you believe you can participate in the Race to Robie Creek, probably you can. But there is only one way to convince us that you can. You must do it.

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