Although I’ve never run the race before, I’ve heard plenty about it. The New Hampshire Union Leader has been a sponsor of the race, which supports a scholarship in memory of John Mortimer’s parents, since before our sponsorships fell under my purview.
That was before I was even “a runner.” (I use the quotation marks because I’m not sure I’ll ever completely feel like a runner.) Back then, the idea of a New Year’s race just seemed plain crazy to me. I mean, it’s usually cold and sometimes snowy.
After I started running a few years ago, I found the idea of a New Year’s race intriguing. It was indeed a great way to start the year. However, by then I’d made my own personal rule not to run races in which it would take me longer to park and register than to run the race (see also: Cigna’s 5K in downtown Manchester) so I routinely skipped the Millennium Mile in favor of a New Year’s 10K in Massachusetts.
Not this year – although the way I made it to the starting line is really just an accident.
A few weeks ago, at Mortimer’s urging, I signed up for the MVP Millennium Running Series. I had let my running slip so much during the second half of 2011 that I needed something to keep me going. A series of seven races - some really fun races, I might add - of various distances, spread out throughout the year seemed like a perfect way to get my focus back.
I thought I had until the Shamrock Shuffle in March to mentally prepare for my year-long commitment. That is, until a friend asked me about the Millennium Mile race. Most years, it falls in December. This year, it falls on New Year’s Day. Turns out, signing up for the 2012 series meant that I’d be starting on the very first day of 2012.
Oh well, no time like the present.
My friend’s 9-year-old son assures me the Millennium Mile will be the fastest mile I run all year. No offense to the little guy, but I hope he’s wrong. I hope that today’s mile-long race is the beginning of a year of improvement.
You see, as we launch this new year, I find myself in unfamiliar territory. At this time of year, I’m usually celebrating my accomplishments and thinking of how to be even better next year. But this year I find myself dealing with the self-inflicted failure of not meeting my goals. When it comes to running (and most other things), I tend to set the bar high for myself, so it was no surprise last year that I gave myself a pretty lofty to-do list. (See them over there on the right side of this page?)
I wanted to run the Boston Marathon and raise $5,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society – and I did. What I didn’t do was pretty much everything else on the list, like, complete a century ride or log 3,000 miles of running and riding. (I’m closing out the year at 2,500-something.)
What’s most frustrating is that everything on the list was completely attainable, and I was on the fast-track to success by mid-year coming off the Boston Marathon and logging some serious miles. My cycling improved immensely and I was in better shape than I’d ever been. I had my highest mileage months ever in both running and cycling this year.
Don't believe that I totally slacked off? I'm including graphic evidence at the end of this post. What the heck happened to me in the second half of the year?
If I must be honest, I kind of gave up - mentally. I got burned out. I stopped checking my mileage stats every day. I didn’t care how far or fast I went. I put my iPod and Garmin watch in the drawer and let them gather dust. My weekly group runs with friends disappeared. Running became something that I didn't even think about. I began to question whether I even liked it anymore.
I got mad at myself. I made excuses. I tried to restart my motivation engine. And couldn’t.
I never even attmpted the Century Ride, even though during the height of the summer and early into the fall the miles would not have been a problem. Heck, I didn't even bother to sign up for a 10K to see what I could do. So I’ve decided to give myself a do-over this year. I toyed with the idea of lowering the expectations on myself, perhaps reducing the mileage or cutting back on the things I want to accomplish. But I don’t want to go backward. I need to finish what I started.
Seems like a one-mile, downhill race on New Year's Day is a pretty good start.
So I’ve decided to give myself a do-over this year. I toyed with the idea of lowering the expectations on myself, perhaps reducing the mileage or cutting back on the things I want to accomplish. But I don’t want to go backward. I need to finish what I started.