Kennedy held the American record in three shorter-distance events before retiring in 2004.
Bob Kennedy, the former American record holder in the 2-mile, 3K and 5K, didn’t run for years upon retiring—which occurred after he dropped out of the 2004 New York City Marathon.
Now he’s back on the roads and gearing up for the second marathon of his life: Sunday’s New York City Marathon.
The New York Times profiled Kennedy this week ahead of the annual trek through the city’s five boroughs.
Kennedy quit the 2004 marathon with eight miles to go after running the first 18 at a 2:10 marathon pace. He had either trained too hard or not allowed his body the proper recovery, so he decided it wasn’t worth continuing after his body slowed down and screamed for him to stop.
Kennedy’s weight ballooned from 142 pounds to 200. He didn’t run for five years, according to The Times.
But earlier this year, after dabbling in some training runs here and there for a few years, he decided it was time to race again—as an amateur, at the race where his professional running career ended 10 years ago.
“This is, for me, finding myself again through running,” Kennedy told The Times. “I think I’ve found a balance. I’ve found I can do things in my life for reasons beyond just being successful.”
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Kennedy, who owns specialty running stores, admits that part of the reason why he stopped running after retirement was because he didn’t want to run slower than he was used to. Once he realized he could still compete as an amateur—at a pace slower than the 5-minute miles he used to hammer out—Kennedy once again craved the feeling of running.
“I think back on why I didn’t run for so long,” Kennedy said. “I didn’t want to have to deal with running slower. I didn’t want to have to deal with people saying, ‘Are you going to run this race? How fast are you running?’ Now I’m OK If I went out and ran nine-minute miles, I don’t have to prove myself to anybody. I’m 44.
“When you see people cross a half-marathon finish line in 2 hours 45 minutes with tears in their eyes, you kind of get it. When I was 25, I didn’t get it. I really didn’t. I get it now.”
Kennedy and some buddies are competing against each other in a weight-loss contest. The final weigh-in is Friday, and Kennedy, who is down to 172 pounds, is leading.
Two days later, he’ll run New York with his friend Bryan Chandler. He expects to finish between 3:20 and 3:30.