2005 was the year I decided to run. What I really wanted to be doing that year was riding a bike, but without enough cash to buy a decent ride, the economics of running looked pretty appealing.
I ran a number of 5ks in July, and did OK for someone who never runs. I cut my teeth in Andover, then on to Portsmouth and Lebanon, eyeing the Cigna 5k, which would take place right in my backyard. That one would be the big one, and for a few reasons. One, it was really close, required no traveling, and it was at night, all of which I felt were positives. Second, I had taken at least a minute off each successive race I had run, and I saw Manchester as the next opportunity to take another minute off my most recent result, which was 25:55. And not only did I expect to take a minute off, but I put in some cross training and track workouts the week prior in an attempt to annihilate that time.
There are many ways to say it, but the bottom line was that 28:36 was hugely disappointing. But after the disappointment, there were two things to reflect upon.
- It was August, and 89 degrees + very humid. This probably isn’t the day you set a PR.
- I did not train properly for the result I was looking for.
The result was so upsetting for me that I spent the next 3 months in a Nike Running training program, putting in almost 300 miles in the process. I didn’t race again until November; this time, another Manchester race. I gave everything I had, and put up a 22:53. That was more like it. I took a few weeks off, and then ran the Millenium Mile in 5:53 on New Year’s Eve. Looking back, it was a really cool way to end the year, and I ended up learning quite a few things about racing and preparation.
I’ll save all of that crap for some other time, but one thing I think I learned during the training runs was that my body seemed much happier running longer distances. I regularly put in 12+ mile runs and felt fantastic. I knew I could keep going. And even taking a year off, I could hit the road and do 6+ miles without a problem, which I did a few times at the end of 2006. So with the 1st ever Manchester City Marathon on the horizon, it is now time to answer a question I have asked myself again and again for many years. The date is November 4th, which is pretty special to me because it is almost exactly two years from November 5, 2005 – the day I finished that Nike program and ran the 22:53.
The course could be easier. But it’s not. So that sucks. As far as first marathons go, this isn’t a terrific first choice. In particular, the Webster & Bridge Street climbs aren’t sitting too well with me at the moment. I see my knees exploding on the way down Hanover, and I’m sure there’s something nasty waiting for me on the west side that I don’t know about yet.
So I’ll train. As much as I reasonably can. Honestly that will be pretty tough, because all I want to do right now is ride. But I’ll run little pieces of the route for the next 2 months, and then do one half, then the other half. And then in November, I’ll put it all together and see what happens. I have no doubt in my mind this will be the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I secretly hope that I’m completely wrong but I’m probably not. I want to believe I can cross that line in a full sprint like a champion. But I also easily see myself flopping over the line like a quivering blob, after I roll out of the radio flyer that some Goffstown kid put me in when he found me passed out on his lawn. Show up on November 4th and find out.