Teresa Robinson's NH Runner: A good race gets the new year off to a fast start
Once again, I'm faced with a laundry list of goals I'd like to accomplish this year. What's different this year is that my goals are much more life related and less running related. Unlike previous years, when I had mileage goals, speed goals and a list of races to do, I haven't quite nailed down my running goals yet. I still have a few days, right?
There are a few somewhat structured challenges circulating on online athletic sites. The "13 in 13" challenge tasks runners with doing 13 races (of any distance) in 2013. You can take it even farther by making it a "13 13.1's in 2013" by checking off 13 half-marathons this year. The "30 for 100" challenge asks us to commit to 30 minutes of activity (any activity) for the first 100 days of the year. I told you runners love numbers.
Many runners I know are lining up their personal milestones for the year, from a list of races on their calendar to how many miles they want to hit in 2013.
For me, there is probably no better way to start a new year than a race. I've added a New Year's Day race to my calendar for the past several years, and have never regretted it (aside from the wild card weather factor). One of my best (and worst?) New Year's Day race memories is of a snowy, blistery day in Salisbury, Mass., for the annual Hangover Classic. The race, now in its 32nd year, has a 5K or 10K option. Oh, and an optional ocean plunge at the end. (I passed on that part.)
That year, a 10K in packed snow with wind whipping from the ocean was hard enough. It was the kind of race that made it hard to get traction or, really, even have a sense of time. But still, hundreds of like-minded runners lined up at the starting line to start the year off right. I walked away from that race day, once I thawed out, feeling accomplished and ready to tackle a year of running.
Last year, I tried the Millennium Mile for the first time. As luck would have it, the weather was warm - in the high 40s, if I recall correctly. I couldn't believe the number of people that turn out for this New Year's Day tradition. Unlike the Hangover Classic I ran a few years ago, the Millennium Mile certainly catered to families and runners who tend to take themselves a little less seriously (aside from the podium-contenders at the front of the pack).
The claims of a downhill course are absolutely true. And they don't mean just slightly downhill, either. The run starts at Londonderry High School at 2 p.m. and follows Mammoth Road straight down (yes, completely down) for a mile. As a newbie to the race last year, I remember thinking that I had no idea how to run a mile race. There would be no pacing, no mile-markers (there are markers for at the quarter, half and three-quarter points), and really no strategy on my part.
The best advice I got was from my friends' 9-year-old son, a Millennium Mile veteran. What he told me isn't quite fit to print, so paraphrasing here, he told me to just run as fast as I possibly can.
I think you'll be surprised at how quickly you can run a downhill mile. I was.
As I write this, the New Year's Day forecast calls for chilly (OK, cold!) temps, with lows in the single digits and highs not going above freezing. Looks like New Year's runners will be breaking out all sorts of cold running gear. At least it seems as if it will be bright and sunny.
I haven't gotten much use out of my cold running gear lately. In fact, I've only used it for a couple of recent cold-weather hikes. I've found myself more focused on treadmill running and cross-training on the stationary bike than hitting the snowy streets.
Guess that will change on Tuesday when I bundle up for a one-mile, downhill adventure. See you at the Millennium Mile.
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Teresa Robinson's NH Runner column appears every other week in the New Hampshire Sunday News. She can be reached at NHRunner123@gmail.com. Twitter: @teresakrobinson.