19 seconds. And a year of family bragging rights!

To say the “Manchester Road Race” is a big deal in our household could be the understatement of the year.  My husband, Ken, is a member of the board and in charge of all the registration and timing.  Next year’s planning begins a week after the current year’s event, but basically our life revolves around “the” road race from approximately August 15 to Thanksgiving Day.  Ken has volunteered on the road race committee for 27 years, and I began running in the race that same year, 1983 (although we didn’t meet each other until 2003).

Last year, Ken declared that he had everything under control for the actual race itself, and we agreed to run.  Our plan was to run together, but no one should ever ask a competitive athlete to “run for fun, or together”.  Seriously, a race is a race right? 

But we lined up together, and ran the first couple blocks in close proximity of each other, along with over 13,000 of our closest friends.  Mile 1-2 is “fondly” known as Manchester’s own Heart Break Hill.  It’s a serious climb that can make or break your race.  I kept Ken in sight, but was a few yards behind him.  As we crested the hill, I pulled alongside and gasped “come on Kenny”…. then took off on the downside.  (I secretly knew that if he thought I was running easy enough to talk, he would crumble).  As I pounded down the backside, I passed our honorary chairman, Dick Beardsley who I had the pleasure of running 9 miles with earlier in the week.  Dick is one of America’s greatest marathoners of all time, and I didn’t really care that he had recently had his hip replaced… I PASSED him and he called out a cheerful “go Kathy”.   I continued to cruise down the other side, but was waiting for Ken to pass me back at any moment.

Manchester is an odd distance, 4.748 miles to be exact.  We seed runners based on their previous year’s times, and I really wanted a legitimate “under 35” card for next year.  I knew I needed to hit 4 miles around 29 minutes.  I glanced at my watch at the 4 mile mark, knew that I had a chance to nail my pace, and ran as hard as I could for the last 3/4s of a mile.  Now, I wasn’t thinking about Ken or where he was, I just wanted to go under 35.   I wanted to give up in that last 1/2 mile stretch, but as I passed “Paul’s Paints” one of my former athletes scared the daylights out of me as she screamed, “COME ON Coach…. GOOOO”.  I sprinted to the finish in a master’s PR of 34:13.     Ken crossed 19 seconds later, and gave me a big hug.  We were both excited about our times and not too worried about who beat who.

We were the only ones though!  At Thanksgiving Dinner, I was greeted with family applause for my “Victory”, as everyone S-L-O-W-L-Y counted to 19 just to get a feel for how long that really is.  Ken’s son Eric asked him to pass the pepper, but then said, “oh wait, if Kathy does it, I’ll get it 19 seconds sooner”.  When we pulled up at a stop light in town the next day, friends in the car next to us yelled, “Oh, Ken’s driving, we’ll probably be stuck here for 19 seconds”.  It became a joke that we all enjoyed, ME most of all.

Now, a week before this year’s Manchester Road Race, I have a decision to make.  As you know, I’ve been injured and unable to train much for running since February.  I’ve been gradually returning with my new mid-foot running form (thanks to Chi and barefoot running).  I’ve been doing yoga, and I’m feeling good.  I ran 5 miles on Sunday- longest run in months.  Today I ran our Universities annual two mile “Turkey Trot”.  I felt good, and finished in a time close to last year’s.  Soooo…. do I run Manchester “for fun” or do I “race”?  Both terms are somewhat relative, but I have a feeling that when I toe the line on Thursday morning, I’ll be ready to race!  Then again, a long run of 5 miles is not really a long run.  Decisions, decisions…..

The biggest question– “Can I maintain my family bragging rights?”





  1. Gail R. said

    Kathy, I doubt you can ever really run for fun or shall I say without the intention of being competitive. I believe you will be able to maintain bragging rights at Thanksgiving dinner, you’re too good, not that Ken isn’t either. 🙂

    I’ll be rooting for you!

  2. Thanks Gail!! Hope to see you at yoga- I’m definitely a “believer”. 🙂

  3. Stefanie Leontiadis said

    Coach, this is a GREAT blog, and very inspirational !! Next time you and Ken come to Greece let me know, and I will hook you up with some fun races =)) August 14th maybe?? (the only mountain race I do every year, for starters..) Also Stan is almost committed to the next Athens Classical Marathon Nov13th2011, think about it to join also, because I would LOVE to see you again =))
    Say hello to Ken for me.


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