From fields to roads
By: Matt Sherman
I’ve played soccer since a time not long after I started to walk. I played just about every position (except goalie, too much standing around) but eventually I developed into a central midfielder, a position in which you need to be able to cover the field. On a slight digression, I’ll admit to being a more offensive minded player so I did tend to put a little more effort into my runs towards the opponents net than on the way back. See included photo for the proper running form when cutting around a defender.
When soccer season would come around, we started off the fall season with a week of conditioning exercises. These were said to be “optional” but the quotation marks on that are absolutely fitting. The dreaded activity for the week was running repeats on one of the local roads, very fittingly called Upham Hill. My junior year of high school, our soccer coach encouraged us to run track in the spring in order to help get some conditioning in for soccer. I signed up and ran the mile (and sometimes the 800) with the JV squad. I enjoyed the team workouts but absolutely dreaded the meets. I was a soccer player who just wanted to stay in shape and wanted nothing to do with a competitive track event!
I didn’t know it yet, but that season of track planted a seed that would come back later. Jump forward a couple years and I was playing small sided intramural soccer, but also going for some runs along the beautiful lakeshore path right outside the dorms. Playing intramural soccer on smaller fields with a fraction of the players, I started to realize that the sport I loved might be shifting towards something I used to do, or at least to something different. I no longer had “my team”, the friends I grew up with playing soccer during the summer and fall. Writing this now, I still feel the strong pull of nostalgia back to the “good old days.”
During my third year, a few of my friends were running in the Madison Mini Marathon in 2012. And to preempt the question of “what is a Mini Marathon?” I’m going to just let you know that it’s a half marathon. Anyways, I remember seeing all the runners at the finish line and thinking “I want to feel the way they do right now, finishing a hard race and soaking it all in at the after party!” So when the registration opened up for the next year’s race, I signed up first thing. Signing up for a race gave me a target and running gave me something that I could do myself, or with friends.
When I first moved to the Upper Valley, some of the first people I met invited me to sign up for the CHaD Hero Half Marathon. And I’ll admit that coming from the midwest, the hills in that race beat the crap out of me! Not long after, another new friend invited me to sign up for the Covered Bridges Half Marathon the following summer. I’ve always been pretty lucky signing up for events or tickets that sell out quickly, so I got my place! I finished that race and found that I absolutely loved the snack tent at the end! Of course, the course was beautiful and the music along the way was inspiring, it goes without saying.
Sometime after running a few half marathons, I decided to make the jump and try to knock the marathon off the bucket list. I won’t go into too many details here, but the Mount Desert Island Marathon is such a beautiful course. Note from my finisher’s photo that I really learned to enjoy that finish line feel, still one of my favorite moments!
As for my future, I haven’t yet made the jump to the ultra marathon, but I’d love to make the effort some day! We’re certainly in a beautiful area with some wonderful races. And if you’re a former (or still current) soccer player like me, reach out and say hi sometime and we can reminisce about soccer tournaments and the joys of playing in the rain!