Now is the Time to Start Living

I’m writing this blog from the Tallahassee Marathon Expo and packet pick up. Most people are just running in, grabbing their race bib, bag of swag and leaving. I am enjoying the people watching. Runners of all different shapes, sizes and ages have passed through the doors today.

Some will be running their first distance race, while many are marathon and half marathon veterans. I really admire these people. I hate running and can’t imagine doing it for hours at a time. Actually, I shouldn’t say I hate running. I actually enjoy running short distances on the trails with my best friend, Jane and my dog, Peyton.

For me running isn’t about time, distance or setting PRs. It’s a time to socialize with my friend, exercise for me and my dog and enjoying nature. It wasn’t always like this.

I started running 7 years ago with my friend, Sandra. She had the crazy idea of doing the Disney Half Marathon. I was crazy enough to let her talk me into it. We were pretty clueless on training and the only running we did was on the treadmills at the gym.

Our first run was a couple of miles. We felt like rockstars. We gradually increased our milage. Our first 4 mile non stop run was reason to celebrate. Only 9 more miles to add and we would be marathon ready. Seemed easy enough.

Being novices, we had to learn about proper footwear, dry fit socks, stretching, hydration and fueling the hard way. I also had a problem with staying upright while running. I fell…a lot. I fell so much that I clearly remember getting up from a fall and looking at a motivational sign in front of the school I fell in front of that said, Fall down 7 Times, Get Up 8. I think I was on my 8th fall. I kept scraped up knees and bruised palms for months.

I remember the day we ran 6 miles. We left the gym and ran downtown, to the mall and back. I was amazed that I just ran a route and distance that I commonly drive. I actually ran that far! Sandra fell in love with running, I did not. I did love the gadgets though and bought everything a runner could possible need or want. The more gadgets I had the more I could focus on something besides running. I had ipods, special earphones, fuel belt, key pockets for my shoe laces, runner’s gloves, dry fit clothes, cushioned socks, cutting edge running shoes and my favorite, my Polar heart rate monitor. I loved seeing how many calories I was burning and how high my heart rate was getting.

It's All About the Gadgets

We were burning so many calories that we were sure we were finally going to lose some weight. Come marathon day, we both had actually gained weight. Too much carb loading (even for our mile runs), too many days thinking that we could eat whatever we wanted since we were running all added up. It was depressing.

After several more races, another half marathon and a lot more gadgets, I finally decided that I just didn’t like to run long distances as a matter of fact, I hated it. It just wasn’t for me. I have nothing against running; some of my best friends are distance runners.

I just wanted to find a way to run that I enjoyed. I love sprinting and found that I’m built for it. I love sprinting up hills. I love going all out for sets of short distances over and over until I’m sick. I love running up stairs. I love running on the trails. For me, running is no longer about pounding the pavement or punishing myself for eating too much. It’s about being able to move, being capable of running if I had to, it’s about enjoying time with friends, it’s about exercising my dog, and last but not least, it’s about the gadgets.

I really admire those people who take up running later in life or who continue running well into their golden years.

Since I write as slow as I run, I can now share info about the finishers of the Tallahassee Marathon. The Male Grandmaster, Alex Steverson age 51 finished the marathon in 3 hours and 19 minutes. The Male Senior Grandmaster, Denji Durden finished in 3 hours and 33 minutes.

Two guys, Bill Larsen and Dan Bowser age 70 and 71 both finished in under 6 hours!!

The ladies were well represented as well. Phyllis Sizemore, Perha Varley and Diana Burton ages 66, 67 and 66 all finished the 26.2 miles in under 6 hours as well.

The half marathon results are equally impressive. Many runners in the age groups from 55 and up ran incredibly fast. The oldest finisher male runner, Bob Keller is 78 years young! The oldest female runners are in their mid 60s.

Even though I am not much of a runner, I am fascinated with the ages of the finishers. I’ve noticed that a lot of runners seem to get faster with age. Just like with many things in my own life, I think it can be attributed to more time.

I spent most of my life taking care of my kids and at least half of that in the car taking them somewhere and dropping them off. My training time and my “me” time was limited to tiny bits of time when they didn’t need me first. Add a full time job on top of kid responsibilities and you can see how many people give up.

Now that my youngest is 17 and driving, I don’t hear from him anymore, unless he needs money. I don’t feel like he will die of starvation if I am not home to cook. I am finding that I have a ton of time for me.

Getting older comes with so many freedoms. This is the perfect time to take up exercise, train for a race or other event, learn a new skill, find a new hobby, learn to play an instrument, learn a new language, travel. The possibilities are endless.

This is the time to put yourself first and start really living.

I would love to hear what you’ve done or what you plan to do.

Leave a Reply