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Building confidence one road race at a time

I put one more race in the books last Sunday, but now I’ve got a new one for which I need to prepare.

And this time, I mean really prepare.

After running the Millennium Mile on New Year’s Day, I signed up to run the Shamrock Shuffle, another race in the Millennium series that was held this past weekend. My hope had been that I’d actually get out and do a little bit of running during the months in between the two races, but of course that didn’t end up being the case.

A week before the race, I hit the trails in Mine Falls for a two-mile run – same distance as the Shuffle – hoping that it would at least get my muscles thinking about what it was like to run again.

I know I’ve griped before about the first time back in the gym after a long layoff, but it’s nothing compared to the first run after some time away. It always feels like the end of the world, and add on that it was barely above freezing out, and I think I had a cough for about two hours after the run.

My time was nothing spectacular – a shade over 22 minutes – but I figured I survived, giving me hope for the Shuffle.

Fortunately, last Sunday was a little bit warmer and I arrived in Manchester early, giving myself time to warmup and stretch. By the time the race started, I was loose and ready to go.

I felt strong to start, but when we hit the turnaround – the race went North on Elm Street for a mile and then back – I could feel myself starting to tire. I tried to stay strong, and toward the end, I somehow found enough kick to get me to the finish line. Or at least what I thought was the finish line.

I assumed where we started was also where we stopped, but the finish line turned out to be a little way beyond. Even though I slowed down for a moment, I still got quite a surprise when I got my time. I had finished in 19:10, about three minutes better than my time from the week before.

My improvement in time could have been a number of things, from a flatter course to the fact I was running with over 3,000 other people instead of by myself. But whatever the reason, it was a nice confidence boost.

Maybe it was too much confidence, because when I got home from the race, I decided on my next challenge – the RibFest 5 Miler. Thankfully, that one isn’t until June. Plenty of time to work my way up to five miles, and for this, I’m definitely going to need it.

Joe Marchilena writes a weekly fitness
column for Hampshire Hills. To find out more information about the “90 Day
Commit to Get Fit” program, call 673-7123 or email hhinfo@hampshirehills.com.

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