Monday, 24 November 2008

Thank you kind readers

You have really been kind.  I have been having my own brand of grief reaction to my friend's death.  Yesterday I wanted to lay in bed and pull the covers over my head and just stay there all day.  Instead I went out and ran 8 miles. 

The thing is, I did not feel better after running.  I did not want to run, and I did not get that elation after a couple of miles that makes you want to keep going - the way I used to.  And the thing was - the day before when I was not running because I felt the wind was out of my sails after hearing the bad news - I knew that a year or two ago, running would have been the first thing I wanted to do.  It helped me cope.  

The other thing is - I think my body has reached the maximum benefit from running.  I am going to be 57 years old on December 15.  I thought that running would help keep old age from my doorstep, but right now I think I was wrong.  

I started running when I was in my late 20s and a young mother.  It was my way of getting my body back, and getting some alone time.  I kept running into my 30s.  I never ran a race until 1987 - I was 35 years old.  It was the Bolder Boulder - which is an awesome way to start racing.  But I still smoked.  I ran that first race with a cigarette tucked into the tiny pocket in my running shorts.  My cute little pink running shorts.  I lit up after I crossed the finish line.  

I stopped smoking when I was 38 - and gained 40 lbs., and started smoking again for 6 months - and did not lose the 40 lbs.  I stopped again when I was 39.  And have not had a cigarette again. I weighed too much to run as a non-smoker, so I started race-walking.  I lost most of the weight, but I kept a bit of that weight on me all these years.  I walked a 12 minute mile at that time.  

In 2003, I was engaged to be married.  I was pretty overweight again...happiness seems to do that to me.  On August 19, 2003, it became obvious to me that I could not marry this man and we broke up.  I thought I was going to die.  Two days after the break up, I went out and tried to run.  I knew that running could save my life.  I would walk one mile up a hill from my house.  When I got to the top, I would turn around and run for 5 minutes. I was out of breath and could do no more than that.

I did that for a couple of weeks.   Then I made it 10 minutes.  A few weeks later, I ran a mile.  After a month or so, I was able to run a mile and a half.  I started losing weight.  I started feeling good.  I fit into a size I hadn't been in for a very long time.  My legs were hard.  My butt was like a rock.  I stayed at a mile and a half a couple of times a week for a while.  I was full of confidence.  I registered for a triathlon!!!  

I started serious swimming at the pool.  I could not swim one length of the pool using the crawl stroke.  But I kept trying.  After a while I could crawl 2 lengths, and then breast stroke, and then back stroke.  It took a few months, but I got up to a half mile non-stop of the crawl stroke.  It took about a half-hour.  

Biking was always my favorite, so I just spent more time trying to go faster.  I still couldn't run 3 miles, but I figured I could walk in the race.

I participated in my first triathlon at the age of 52.  I felt like a million bucks.  It was one of the most wonderful things that ever happened to me.  

On New Years Day 2007, I told a friend I was going to run a half-marathon that year.  I don't know where that came from.  But I trained and I ran my first half-marathon in May.  It was wonderful.  I knew I was slow, but I felt like a million bucks.  I felt like I had found my sport.  Slow, long-distance running.  And I am not being humble when I say slow.  I mean 14+ minute miles.  I ran another half in October 2007.

At a Christmas party last year, a friend convinced me that if I could run a half, I could run a whole.  I decided to do it in Alaska. I  registered for the Mayor's Marathon... June 21... Summer Solstice.  How cool is that.  I got up to one 15 mile training run.  Two weeks after I used another half-marathon as a training run.  I came in dead last in that half.  Ironically, it was my best half-marathon time ever.  But it was a field of 800 athletes, without the "feel-good" peeps that offend some runners.  I was the only "feel-gooder" at that race, and it wasn't feeling too good, let me tell you.  I did enjoy it though.  

I went out for a 17 mile run one Sunday morning two weeks after my 15 miler, and after 5 miles decided that I did not want to pay the price to train for a marathon.  I knew I could train for a half-marathon without ruining my life, so I decided to run a half in Anchorage.  The question I asked myself that day was "do I want to run with joy, or do I want to run with grim determination?"  The answer was joy.  

That was my last race.  (well, aside from my triathlon in August - which I still consider a pleasure, not a chore)  I am registered for the P.F. Chang's half on January 18.  I know I can pull 13.1 out of this old body, but I am not loving it.  I am not waking up in the morning wanting to run.  I am not trying to figure out how to squeeze in a few more miles to get up to a total for the week or month, the way I used to.  

My body doesn't feel like a jock's anymore.  It feels old.  I am no longer noticing the rock hard muscles, but the flabby skin.  Not fat, mind you, skin.  It happens when you age.  I am pushing 60 and it is happening.  

I recently got in touch with one of my high school acquaintances.  She sent me pictures of a group of them at a restaurant.  The class of '69.  Well, I hate to tell you  - they are old ladies.  chubby old ladies. I am no stick figure - I wear a size 12, but I am not wearing huge shirts that are not covering my huge belly.  I have my rolls and my bulges, but I do not look like my classmates. I know that is because of running.

I don't even think I expect anyone to read this.  I am just facing a decision point I guess. I wish I had other old folks to talk it over with.  Most of you are young and energetic and happy to be running.  I know what that is like. It is GREAT.  I am just not there right now and I am pretty sure that time has passed.

I will put in my training runs this week. I will consider that it is a shock to find out a friend has died. I am probably more upset than I am even admitting.  I will not make any decisions this week.  I will definitely run P.F. Chang's - and I am really looking forward to meeting some of you.

Since I have already written a book, I will add this little story.

I just cancelled my land line service.  I use my cell phone for everything, so there is no sense in paying $52. a month for something I don't use.  Today was the last day my land line was on, so I wanted to listen to the voice mails I have saved.  Like from my granddaughter's first day of pre-school, etc.  Tucked in there was a voice mail from the man who died last week.  I was not expecting that.  I really wasn't expecting to hear what it said.  I have been feeling so bad about our last conversation and wishing I had been a better friend to him.  So, this morning, I got to hear a message he left for me in May.  It said "Thank you for your friendship.  You have been a really good friend to me.  There are so many things I love about you. Thank you."  I felt like he reached out to me today to tell me that it is OK.  

OK enough out of me!  Thanks for reading if you have read this much!


MarathonRandy said...

Mary, yes I did read and I did read it all. I think you are facing an number of things, the death of your friend, a former love, and that is most difficult. I do believe tho you are working your way thru this and you do see a light at the end of the tunnel.

No, not all your blog friends are young speedsters, some of us are older too, some of us have been thru other struggles, like a quadruple heart bypass three years ago. I can so remember feeling so down that I'll never be able to even do something as simple as go bowling. Now I've finished 8 marathons and have #9 in less than 2 weeks in Memphis.
Something I realized at the last marathon was that as I lined up at the start line I wasn't asking myself why am I running 26.2 I could just as easily run 13.1 instead. I am still slow, but even with the kidney stone I enjoyed the race. I feel like I'm on the verge of "arriving" with these crazy zany runs. I hope you too can find that "thing" that you realize is enjoyable and that also challenges you. Remember if it were easy everyone would be doing it and those looking for a challenge would be looking elsewhere....I'm proud to be a part of the 1%'ers that have run these should be proud of your efforts too, not just the running by your "tri" efforts too...always always remember you are not out there racing anyone but yourself, satisfy yourself and you are one of the biggest winners whatever haven't given up, and you definitely are not old, even my 68 year old running buddy isn't old, she's just got more years of running experience than I do at this point in time. Hang tough...I know you will get past this....from one "back of the packer" to another...just remember we slow people have to be involved so the fast people can look fast...without us they would just be common runners.

Lisa Slow-n-Steady said...

Mary. It sounds like you are going through a lot right now. Hang in there.

What a lovely gem to find the message from your friend who recently died.

I think running *has* kept old age from your doorstep. Look again at the photo of your high school aquaitences again.

You'll figure things out. My only suggestion is to find something that you enjoy for excersise, whether that's running or something else. There's no magic right answer and it might change over time. But hopefully you'll find something that you enjoy.


Wes said...

You spend a lot of time agonizing about things over which you have no control. Let it go. Have fun. You have control over that!

Jess said...

Hope this doesn't come across wrong, but: You sound depressed. Not finding joy in something that you used to find enjoyable, wanting to stay in bed, etc, these are typical symptoms of depression. And you have good reason to feel low: A dear person just died and it's winter.

Maybe you should see a therapist? Talking about the loss of your ex-boyfriend with a professional could be very helpful.

Chad in the Arizona Desert said...

I can't add much to the great comments above, but to point out your own words - "I know that running could save my life." It wasn't running itself that brought about all these great things in your life. It was your decision to run your life, not let life run you. When you look at your 'old' HS friends, what you see are people who have given up on discovering anything new about themselves. They have resigned themselves to believing that their best days are behind them and in doing so, it's now the truth. As long as you believe that you can go out and become more than you are today and experience new adventures, you will continue to be 'young'. Only you can decide you are 'too old.' There is an article online on about the 90-year-old woman looking to set a world record in the marathon in a few weeks. I'm only guessing on what she would say to you, but I think it would be something like: "Kid, stay in the game!"

We all only get one trip on this rock... make the most of it. I hope to see you in January here in Arizona.

Chad in the Arizona Desert said...

Here is the link to the story:

Marathoner in Training said...

Ok Mary,

Listen to your self:

- I felt like a million bucks. It was one of the most wonderful things that ever happened to me.
- But I trained and I ran my first half-marathon in May. It was wonderful. I knew I was slow, but I felt like a million bucks
- I felt like I had found my sport. Slow, long-distance running.
- I used another half-marathon as a training run.
- Ironically, it was my best half-marathon time ever.
- do I want to run with joy, or do I want to run with grim determination?" The answer was joy.
- I have my rolls and my bulges, but I do not look like my classmates. I know that is because of running.

You have found much enjoyment with running and even found weight loss with it:) You are an outstanding runner and I think you just need to regroup and find what works for you.

I do not think that you are getting too old for running, you are just getting to your prime. Take a look at this web page of the race I am doing the end of the year and look at the age of the competitors, you would fit in the middle of the group:

As I get older, (still younger than you claim to be), I am realizing that I am not going to win the 5K, or any race for that matter, I have determined that I will get out at my own slow pace and enjoy life. We are too often reminded of how short it is, and we need to make the best of it.

I will pray that you will find a happy place with your running and and your friend.

As for your last paragraph, your friend did respect you and charrished your friendship. I would interpert as you are very special to him and everything will be fine.

Joe said...

I read the whole story, too, MG. I found it moving and profoundly honest.

You have some good advice from others. You can weigh it well.

I'm 55 and in the back of the pack...that is not the issue. Staying fit and active is.

You have spiritual roots too... go there, not just running. God is faithful, all the time, even if you don't feel like it.

I heard a good story about the apostle Thomas. Even though he doubted, he hung with the others. They pulled him through that difficult time.

Keep with your friends...those who have depth and support. Find your spiritual roots...keep the phsycial disciplines, even if you don't feel like it. Its a hard time, but you'll make it.

Just_because_today said...

I don't know how I ended up on your blog but I am glad I did. I read the story. Seems that you are going through a patch, one of those when nothing makes us feel better and we expect to get it from running. I have had some share of them, lately too. It will pass if you don't let it get too far. Don't expect anything from it, just go there and do it, one day it will feel good again. Running is a good friend that eventually comes back

J~Mom said...

I read it all Mary. I think you have lots of great advice above already. I am wondering about that race walking...12 min/miles?!? Do you think you could find pleasure in that again? You could beat me! That is some fast walking girl! We all have ups and downs...we are here for you!!