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!