Runners new to the racing scene generally select minimally challenging venues their first time out.
But not Kimmy Fung, who is set to run the Giant Race half-marathon on Saturday.
“I wanted to challenge myself,” said the San Francisco native, explaining why she opted to register for the 13.1-miler rather than either the 5K or 10K distances.
“I don’t know. I just want to push my body.”
Through discipline, exercise and a healthy, revamped diet, the 27-year-old Lower Pacific Heights resident has transformed herself from her sedentary childhood years.
“I was always small and chunky,” Fung said. “My parents only enrolled me in piano lessons.”
At Hillwood Academic Day School, Fung didn’t participate in any sports. From the 60-student private school in San Francisco’s Cow Hollow District, Fung moved on to Lowell High School, where she discovered competitive dance and was team captain of her junior varsity and varsity squads.
Her sophomore year at Sacramento State, the business-marketing major discovered the benefits of a gym and began lifting weights, doing yoga and running on the treadmill.
Fung’s first experience running outdoors was just six months ago, when she began jogging around Lake Merced.
A friend suggested the Giant Race, and to Fung, it was the perfect fit — a San Francisco event benefiting Project Open Hand, a local organization that provides healthy meals to The City’s seniors and seriously ill.
“The whole experience — signing up for the race, raising funds for a cause that promotes a healthy diet and doing this with other people — is so empowering, so gratifying, I can’t stop thinking about it,” Fung said.
The training and fundraising elements have been equally embraced by Fung, who works in sales for the Richard Don Insurance Agency.
Three days a week she runs with San Francisco running club Marathon Matt, and two nights a week, Fung puts herself through a barefoot “Jiu Jitsu boot camp” at the Ocean Beach Barra Brothers Academy in the Outer Richmond district.
Fung is close to reaching her fundraising goal of $1,000. Half the total has been donated by her fellow congregants at Buddha’s Universal Church on Washington Street. Friends from her college philanthropic sorority, alpha Kappa Delta Phi, and Fung’s family have also contributed generously.
Fung feels “nervous and excited,” but confident as she approaches the half-marathon, certain that her commitment to conditioning and proper nutrition has prepared her for this inaugural racing challenge.
“Being from San Francisco and right after the Giants won the World Series I thought that this would be befitting for my first race,” Fung said.
When: Saturday, 8 a.m.
Start-finish: Half Marathon, 10K and 5K races start near AT&T Park and finish on the field.
Running field: 10,000 runners entered after 5,000 in 2010 — the world champion Giants appear to have inspired the running community.
Fundraising: Kimmy Fung’s $1,000 in donations will allow the delivery of 500 hot, home-delivered meals to Project Open Hand clients.