Mike Preston of Windham has run over 1,000 miles in 2016, and he completed it with weeks to spare in the year. Mike, an employee at WEX, doesn’t consider himself a runner. He loves to run, but he’s not obsessed with learning about the sport or following successful runners. He just laces up his sneakers and heads out the door putting one foot in front of the other.
“I didn’t think I could really make it,” he said about his 1,000 mile goal. Last year he ran 800 miles. “It just sort of happened,” he said. When he set his goal of 1,000 miles he knew anything could derail his plans like injury, illness or family obligations, but in the Preston household running is more than a hobby – it’s a lifestyle.
Mike started running in late 2011 off and on. He was never athletic growing up, preferring to stay in the background and finish gym class runs in the middle of the pack to avoid attention.
“I don’t study technique. I’m not interested in runners. I do it for me. I’m not concerned with what others are doing,” Mike said. “I didn’t run most of my adult life.”
At the end of 2011, his running friends challenged Mike and his wife, Meesh, a high school sprinter, to run 12 (5K) races in 12 months in 2012, 12/12/12. “It was too cool of a name not to get involved,” Mike said. Once he started running, he realized that he was pretty good at it.
The competition of the 12 races kept him going all year long. In 2013, they continued the trend adding in another race. In 2014, Meesh named the running group “Between a rock and a hard pace.” There were 30 people in the group with between 8 and 15 regularly showing up for races.
“It’s a community of lots of people we’d have never met,” Mike said about his running friends. “Windham’s great for running,” he added. He also plans to run all of the roads in Windham this upcoming year proving the town is great for runners.
“Getting the miles and races in every month kept us on task. We had to stay in shape,” Meesh said.
They started doing “fancy 10Ks” next. Then came the “big, audacious goals” like a half marathon in New Hampshire.
“Neither one of us said we have to do a marathon,” said Meesh.
“Now, that’s the goal for next year,” Mike responded. “I like the challenge (of running),” he added.
Using a running app, he worked to reach his weekly goal of 20 miles. In the spring, Mike lost some of his motivation toward his 1,000 miles after the last, big, spring race. He didn’t run much in June, but the Beach to Beacon loomed and he knew he had to get back out on the road in order to be ready for that race and other fall races. “I needed to make sure I got back on track,” Mike said. Mike had help reaching his goal from his running partner Todd Guite, who reached his 1,000 miles the week after Mike.
Mike and Meesh enter races together. They don’t run together, but Meesh is okay with that. “He’s at the finish line every single time for me,” she said.
One of their favorite races is the Ragnar, a 200 mile race for teams of 12. No matter how rough the conditions or hard the race, at the end Mike can’t help but say how great the race was. “You feel a sense of pride,” he said.
They also participate in the Team Kyle race yearly. They have a small room in their home they call the medal room with prizes earned and pictures from the races. The Ragnar races have a special display with the oversized medals hanging from the frame. Although they love the races, Meesh admits that she loves the medals, too. Mike prefers hanging out with his friends.
Meesh has never had a gym membership and Mike has no interest in doing bootcamps or working out in a gym. “I can see immediate results,” Mike said. When he finishes a run, he can put in the distance and see the progress he’s making toward his goal.
The Prestons have two children, who do not run. Sam, did middle school cross country and has run a few 5Ks, but “he hated every single one of them,” Meesh said. Julia, a freshman in college refuses to run. “You couldn’t pay her to run, except once,” Meesh added, when she paid Julia $20 to run a 5K. Since then Julia and Sam have become great volunteers for the races their parents run in and the Windham High School Project Grad 5K, which Mike and Meesh coordinate.
“I love running in the middle of the dark road at night with the moon and stars,” Mike said. He’s not done running just because he made his goal. He set another goal to run at least a mile every day in December and he’s on track to meet that one. He also plans to run another 1,000 miles next year.