Today was the 25th annual Union Leader Classic, an 8K (5mi) road race that starts and ends at the Union Leader building in Manchester.
As a non-runner and non-racer, I remember attending my first road race when I started working at the Union Leader a few years ago. I was overwhelmed by the amount of pre-race work that goes on behind the scenes -- ordering, sorting and folding T-shirts, arranging for drinks and food for runners, recruiting volunteers and sponsors and a whole laundry list of other details.
My first race day was even more overwhelming. Runners warmed up along open stretches of road and parking lot. The timing station was set up, trophies lined the front table and volunteers dealt with lines at race-day registration. People seemed to be everywhere.
Racers took off with a gunshot start and we waited. It didn't seem like long before the first runners were rounding the corner to complete the somewhat hilly five-mile course.
Inevitably around this time of year, person after person will ask in the days leading up to the Union Leader Classic whether I plan to run it. As the person in charge of the event, I should be on site to deal with any problems that arise, so I have a nice excuse not to run.
Plus, before signing up for the Disney challenge, I had never even thought about running a race. All that's changed now. I plan to run my first race, a 5K in Dover, at the end of the month and have looked into a couple of other 5Ks in the area during the upcoming months.
With a few years of experience, organizing race day has become a little easier and, for the most part, I know what to expect on race day.
The one part of race I wasn't familiar with was the actual course. So last night, after a day dealing with last-minute details for the race, I put on my sneakers and decided to try it. I knew it would be a challenge. And it was.
It was unusually hot, it was getting dark and the course seemed to go on forever, especially the stretch of road that runs along the lake where there are no houses. And the roads were much hillier than I've ever realized while driving in the car.
I certainly wasn't breaking any record speeds, but I was setting my own personal record -- my first five-mile run. Hopefully it was the first of many.
REMEMBER, I'M DOING THIS FOR A GOOD CAUSE.
Have you donated to my fundraising campaign for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society? If not, please consider doing so. You can donate online at http://www.active.com/donate/tntma/Teresa. Please pass this link to everyone you know. Every dollar helps me get a little closer to the Disney 13.1!