Pursuits of Happiness, 20 VTBJ, Spring 2020-#06

PositionVol. 46 1 Pg. 06


No. Vol. 46 No. 1 Pg. 06

Vermont Bar Journal

Spring 2020

Mike’s Garage: An Interview with Mike Kennedy

JEB: We are here, in separate home offices because of COVID-19, and I’m interviewing you, Mike Kennedy for our Pursuits of Happiness column. So Mike, I’ve been wanting to do this for a very long time since you walk the talk on Pursuits of Happiness and are a real champion for this cause. Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed!

MK: Well, thank you for interviewing me.

JEB: Originally I was thinking of marathon man for our title since we are going to talk about marathons, but Mary at our office had this idea of calling it Mike’s Garage, as we go through all the medals and items you have in your bar garage, a happy place!

I suppose we should start talking about running first. Normally, we talk about people’s passions and often find that the interest developed when they were a child, but my understanding is you never used to run, is that right?

MK: That is absolutely correct. For the longest time I couldn’t stand running. I thought it was something that just anybody could do easily and that it was no big deal. And then there came a day when that changed.

JEB: And it wasn’t in high school!

MK: No, it was not in high school. I think the furthest I ever ran in high school maybe four miles. There used to be the block when we were kids where my mom would say ‘go do the big block’ to sort of get us out of the house and it’s four miles around that block. And that was the farthest I ever ran until 2006.

JEB: Well, that’s a big block though, four miles, I don’t think I could run even four miles when I was in high school. Did you do other sports in high school?

MK: I played football and basketball.

JEB: Okay. So no running but you were athletic, then. And then you played basketball. And you coached in your adult life too?

MK: Right. I started coaching when I was in college and I’ve pretty much coached one team or another on one level or another since I was at UVM.

JEB: But again, you didn’t run at UVM? Or. at least 4 mile runs for fun?

MK: No, from high school until I was 39, I wouldn’t even do a casual run to the mail-box or around the big block. I couldn’t, I hated it!

JEB: That’s so funny. People who know you know you have a passion for running! So what changed?

MK: I remember exactly what changed. In 2006, a bunch of my friends who had always entered a relay team in the Vermont City in Burlington. That year, they asked me to be on their relay team. Two of the friends used to have this big party after the marathon and the party was awesome, but I never actually had been on one of the teams that ran. I figured well I might as well just get in the spirit of the day and be on a relay team after all. How hard could it be to run a five-mile segment on a relay team?

JEB: It doesn’t seem easy to me, but I’m not a runner.

MK: I got assigned a leg that was 5.2 miles and I was still thinking it was no big deal. The race is always at the end of May. In mid or late April, I was thinking maybe I better go practice a little bit. So I went for a run. I didn’t even make it a mile before I had to stop gasping out of breath and in so much pain! I panicked thinking I was never going to be able to do this.

JEB: Well, they say the first mile is the hardest, right?

MK: Yes but that that day, the first mile was the only mile! I walked home with my tail between my legs.

JEB: But you didn’t quit.

MK: I didn’t quit. And then I got really lucky. I got assigned the last leg of the relay, which means you get to cross the finish line. You’re cruising down the bike path in Burlington and you’re passing all these people. So at the time, I literally thought I was like an Olympic champion. A few years later I realized that I was only passing people because they were doing the full marathon! Anyhow, the race ends at the Burlington waterfront. You run through this skinny chute where there are just tons of people on either side cheering and it’s great, so motivating. And I became addicted! And from there I just started running more races, increasing my distances, and then eventually ran a full marathon two years later.

JEB: Wait, it was the excitement of the finish line that got you addicted to running, not the running itself?

MK: I think that’s kind of true. I never thought I was going to stick with it, I just was thinking that I was just going to get through this relay. But I liked the running part, mostly being in a race, the competitive part. So, I stuck with it. Six months later I ran my first half...

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