The Connection Runners + running

Here we go...

SO this is my inaugural post of 12 Marathons 12 Months. As the name implies, I am going to run a marathon every month over the next year, and this blog will document my journey.

I ran throughout high school and college, but never considered myself a 'runner'. Running was a way to get into shape for another sport, but it wasn't until recently that I discovered how much I truly enjoy it.

I signed up for Taekwondo, the Korean martial art, with my son a few weeks after my 38th birthday back in May 2009. I had always wanted to learn a martial art, and the impact it had on me - both from a physical and mental perspective - was tremendous. I quickly shed a much needed 20 lbs from Taekwondo, but still had another 20 to go. My first few sparring sessions were humbling, however, as after charging like a bull for the first 15 seconds or so I couldn't muster the energy to counter and was downright pummeled because I didn't have any wind. My teacher, an 8th dan black belt, told me something I'll never forget: "Never let your opponent see how tired you are."

That same week I read the following quote by Bruce Lee, and it inspired me to start running again: "... physical conditioning is a must for all martial artists. If you are not physically fit, you have no business doing any hard sparring. To me, the best exercise for this is running. Running is so important that you should keep it up during your lifetime. What time of the day you run is not important as long as you run. In the beginning you should jog easily and then gradually increase the distance and tempo, and finally include sprints to develop your 'wind'."

So a five mile run with my sister one humid August morning was the turnaround moment for me. It was the first time I ran in ELEVEN years. It felt incredible, as if I'd just found something I'd lost a decade earlier and couldn't believe I lived without it. It has made Taekwondo that much more enjoyable, and I can take pride in the fact that I can spar with endurance and confidence, even against opponents half my age.

I have been running regularly for almost a year now, and it has evolved into a passion. I genuinely look forward to each and every run. Even on mile 49 of my first ultramarathon a few months back, when I was grinding out each and every step, and though the grimace on my face may have intimated otherwise, I loved every minute of it.

My first race in my '12 Marathons 12 Months' challenge is the Maine Marathon in Portland, ME this Sunday, October 3rd. I ran Sugarloaf Marathon on May 16th earlier this year in 3:39:19, and will look better that time and to crack the 3:35 mark - an 8:13 minute pace per mile. Last week I ran in the Niantic Bay 1/2 marathon and averaged 7:56 min per mile to finish in 1:44:00, so factoring in hills and fatigue, 3:35 should be doable.

After the Maine Marathon, my next five marathons are as follows:

11/07/10 ING NYC Marathon
12/11/10 Roxbury Marathon, Roxbury, CT
01/30/11 ING Miami Marathon
02/27/11 Hyannis Marathon
03/06/11 Kaiser Permanente Napa Valley Marathon

I'm still deciding which marathons I'll run after Napa, but want to also do a 70.3 triathlon and run in the Mt Washington Road Race in June. I will definitely run the Vermont 50 next September, however, to complete my 12 in 12.

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