Not Great. But, Not Bad. Caught in No-Man’s Land

Last night, I raced the hilly FoxPoint Sunset 5-Miler along the tree-lined roads of historic Newington, NH.  It’s one of my favorite races of the year. The course keeps everyone honest and the volunteers are genuinely enthusiastic about putting on a great event for the running community.  The post-race barbecue alone is worth the price of registration.

After warming up for a mile or two with my 12-year-old son I joined the rest of the runners outside the town cemetery. Minutes later, hundreds of runners bowed their heads in remembrance of those who were lost on September, 11th 2001. Then, the students of Newington Elementary produced goosebumps by singing our national anthem.

Foxpoint 5 Miler start

“Go, go, go!”

Then it was, “Go, go, go!” And we were off and running. The first mile flew by in just under 5:50 and I knew I was going to pay the price for a fast start over the next four miles. I was sitting in 9th place and running beside the top women runner. Someone behind me joked that I couldn’t let a girl pass me. I told her that I wished I could run like a girl and not an aging masters runner.

I lost touch with her over mile two and found myself in eleventh place overall as I passed the second mile marker in 12:12. Things were about to get even uglier as the hills of mile three and four would show me no mercy. For the next two miles, I ran entirely alone with only occasional glimpses of the two runners ahead of me up in the distance. Each time I passed a group of spectators I strained me ears to hear how long they paused before cheering on the next runner. I was truly alone and in the middle of a huge gap.

The last mile was an internal battle. I pressed on knowing that I had third place in my age group all locked up. I really had nobody behind me, but knew I had a shot a decent time if I pushed it a bit longer. So, I attacked the last hill as if someone other than a woman pushing a baby stroller were racing me up the last hill. I finished under 32:00 and took solace in getting faster despite getting older. 

FoxPoint 5 Miler 2016

Peyton charging up the hill.

A few minutes later, my son crested the hill. He took first in his age group and was delighted to receive praise from the adult runners who finished around him. As we walked down the hill to watch the other runners finish we caught sight of my wife pushing it up the hill to finish strong in under 40 minutes. We all enjoyed some watermelon, hamburgers, pizza, and desserts and watched the sun set over the fields of Newington’s town center. We chatted with friends, swapped race stories, and generally enjoyed the rush of endorphins and smiles that come with a tough race effort.

Reflecting on my race performance, I’ve decided that the space between the lead pack and the rest of the pack isn’t such a bad place. Anything is possible.

FoxPoint Awards

5 Ways to Bust a Running Rut and Find Love on the Run

Tina ran a marathon in 2014. It took all of her free time and every ounce of energy to accomplish that goal. She woke up early to log miles before sending the children off to school and going to work each day. She followed her training plan with a level of discipline that would bring a tear to the eye of even the most formidable drill sergeant. Her passion knew no bounds, and her motivation to complete the marathon turned her running into something more meaningful than mere exercise or sport. The marathon became her Everest. It was a chance to prove that new frontiers can be conquered after forty.

Now, two years later, she’s still running. But, it’s not so easy. These days it takes a lot more convincing to get out the door. Sometimes it doesn’t happen at all. Epic race events, injuries, seasonal changes, new friendships, and new jobs can all have an adverse effect on our running. It’s during these transition points that many runners leave the sport altogether.

The first sign is the rut. A time when running feels more like work than play, and you start to wonder if you need it anymore. After all, if it’s not fun, there are plenty of other things to do instead. Fun is the key to running longevity. Here are five ways to rekindle your running passion and find love on the run.

5 Proven Running Rut Busters

 

Make it Social

Running alone makes the miles seem longer. Find a friend, a family member, or a pet to keep you company. Running can spark surprisingly candid conversations between friends and give husbands and wives a chance to reconnect. If you don’t have family and friends nearby, check out your local running scene for clubs and group runs. At the very least, consider engaging on Twitter or Facebook with other runners. The camaraderie and encouragement you get from the running community can be a powerful incentive to keep going.

Plan a Race Calendar

Some runners are motivated by competition. If your race calendar is empty, consider adding some races. Adding a 5K or half marathon to your race calendar is a great way to find purpose in your weekly runs. Races not only rejuvenate the running spirit, they also provide a great venue to interact with other runners and be part of the local running scene.

running dad father's day gift

Half Marathon Father-Daughter Relay! Now that’s fun! Dad said so…

Get Creative

If you’re like most runners, you probably have a GPS watch strapped to your wrist. Try spicing things up with a little GPS running art. See how creative you can be and share your original works of art for others to appreciate. The fun of creating a new design will make the miles fly by.

Explore New Places

Runners are creatures of habit. We usually end up running a handful of local routes hundreds of times each year. To inject and little excitement into your runs try exploring new places. take your run to the trails or the parks. Visit the local track. Or, just drive someplace new for a change of scenery.

Mix it Up

You may be a half marathon specialist. Or, maybe you like to rock the 5K. To spark a little interest and keep things fresh, consider mixing up your race distance. Try shifting to a faster gear for shorter races or building up your endurance to tackle a longer race. The change in training will not only make you a stronger runner, but it will help you rekindle your passion for running.