Friday, April 20, 2018

Old Lady Running

I was asked to write a piece for an "Aging Gracefully" newsletter and this with what I said.

I always said that when I turned 70 I would quit running. But then I turned 70 and I was having so much fun running that I decided to keep doing it for a while. During the eleven-and-a-half years since then I have been continually entertained by the world of masters running and I’ve learned a whole lot.

I’ve had to admit to myself that I am addicted to this business of putting one foot in front of the other, inserting a little bit of a bounce to turn it into a run. Walking is great and I do lots of it, but it is not the same as running.

I’ve had to concede that I am getting slower and that I can’t run as far as I once did. At the same time, I’m so grateful that I can still participate. These days I have to dress warmly. I run more slowly so I don’t warm up the way I once did.
I’m getting used to having few competitors in my age group—sometimes none, which was the case in a recent USATF 8k Masters Championship in Virginia Beach on St. Patrick’s Day. I was the only woman, but there were two men in my age group. I did that race a little faster than they did. That was pretty much fun.

The older one is, the better their chances of winning the “age-graded” award, determined by a mathematical formula that combines a runner’s time with their age. In Virginia Beach I won that award with a 99% score which came with a check for $600. The race took me almost 43 minutes—not a bad rate of pay!

The Fort Collins Coloradoan took note when I won a world age-group record for the 5k a couple of months after I turned 80. But when the same thing happened in a much more difficult 15k race in Tulsa, Oklahoma three weeks later, no one noticed.

I’ve discovered that Grandview Cemetery down the street from where I live is a great place to run. The surface is dirt, flat and traffic-free. Lots of others runners and walkers have discovered it too. Reading gravestones can be quite interesting. I’m getting to know some of those people. I like it that none of them comment on my pathetic pace. They just let me do my own thing.

I just signed up to do the fortieth running of the Bolder Boulder. The following weekend I’m going to Albany, New York to do the fortieth running of Freihofer’s Race for Women. Both these races have become an annual tradition for me and I intend to keep on doing them for as long as I can.

I guess I must be addicted.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Running for pig socks

I did it! Last night I let loose of the manuscript I’m calling Still Running? I’m not at all sure that it was ready to pay a visit to a prospective publisher, but I was ready to say goodbye to it for a while. I had massaged it to the point where I had to stop. A few kind friends had read it and shared some extremely helpful suggestions for which I am grateful.

The publisher I sent it to said that it gets so many submissions that I should be prepared to wait for eight to ten weeks. Then, if they have an interest in it, they will let me know. If they are not interested, well I’m on my own to check the calendar and then move on to the next step.

From the day when I started this project I have been planning to go the self-publishing route. I’ve done it four times in the past and it works well for me. But just on a whim, I decided to send it out into the big bad world and see what might happen.

It consists of sixty short pieces covering many aspects of running from the people I’ve met, the places running has taken me, the role it has played in my life and reflections about the sport as it has grown and changed over time.

Last Sunday, I made the Still Running? title true by running in the Flying Pig 5k, a fundraiser for Foothills Gateway, an organization that serves those with disabilities in Fort Collins. The wind was blowing like crazy, as it usually does during this mid-April race. Four hundred souls turned out to walk or run and support FG. They all went home with a T-shirt, zippered bag containing some goodies and an evergreen tree, ready for planting. Afterwards they were treated to hot drinks and bacon bagels.

I was lucky enough to walk away with a pair of socks covered with flying pigs that have already taken their place as favorites.

Stayed tuned. I’m looking forward to seeing my thoughts about my favorite sport see the light of day. Meanwhile, I’ll keep on running.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

The "oldBag" story

Yesterday I responded to an invitation to talk about…used tea bags…. I was the program for a PEO group in Fort Collins. I don’t know what those letters stand for, but I do know that it is a philanthropic women’s organization that provides college scholarships to deserving young women.

One of their members is a fan of my teabag note cards and it was she who hooked me up with the PEO group. I’ve been making “oldBags” note cards and bookmarks for at least ten years now. I sell them in a couple of local shops, at Beavers Market, my local grocery store a block down the street, and from my home. I also take orders and mail cards to purchasers.

I started making the cards after I received one I fell in love with made by women in a village in South Africa. My cards don’t look anything like theirs, but the one I received so long ago was certainly my inspiration. This little card read, “Once filled with tea, now filled with love.”

The cards are simple to make and they satisfy my penchant for making something out of nothing. I begin by drying out the tea bag and emptying its contents into my compost pile. When I have a pile of tea bag papers, I iron them and then glue them onto blank cards with craft glue. I sprinkle a few gold flecks around the edges, add a border and then use the stain created by the tea to create a design. Sometimes I add flowers, trees, birds, whatever seems to work.

I never dreamed that this fun little craft activity would be worthy of a talk.  Making cards from use tea bags is something anyone can do. It’s just that not everyone wants to spend their time messing with used tea bags

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Still Writing?

Fifty-three thousand words and I’m not done yet. 

A few months ago, knowing that after all these years of writing I was better suited for telling the truth rather than for making up stuff, as in writing fiction, it would be smart of me to write about some true things.

It would be easy and fun. I’d written about 60 columns on writing and related subjects in the past five years. I’d just gather them up and put them in a book.

I’d call it Are You Still Running? because that is what people ask me all the time.

Yep, I would answer in the sub-title.  Turn the page to see why.

After giving the title some thought—or just getting sick of it—I softened it to Still Running? and that’s where it stands for right now—subject to change of course.

I thought that putting this book together would be an easy task because after all, most of it would consist of stories that were already written.

I began by categorizing them into sections I called People. Places, Reflections, Advice, etc. and then I had lots of stories left over that didn’t seem to fit anywhere. Finally I decided to present them chronologically, as they happened in my life.

The next task was to revise and update the pieces. Surprising how many times you can re-write a few words before it feels like you can’t make them any better. Along with this process, I contacted the subjects of the stories about people to find out what they were currently up to and what their plans were for the coming year. They had lots to tell and I’m so glad I did that.

As I neared the end of working with the existing pieces, I realized that I had more stories to tell. The thing was turning into a monster that wouldn’t let me go. I didn’t mean for it to become a memoir—or a monster-- but it was beginning to feel like both.

I have a few more stories to tell before I call it quits. I’m at a point where I’ve been before in this writing game, wondering who in the world will be interested in all this?

I guess it doesn’t really matter. I’m too far into this project to quit and just let it hide away in the computer.

Monday, March 19, 2018

A race to remember

Hot Irish stew at the finish line.

That was a first for me and mighty welcome as I completed the Shamrock 8k road race in Virginia Beach last Saturday morning, March 17, a few seconds behind my running buddy, Dave Klibbe. Both of us were pleased with our times on this fast, flat course, an out-and-back along the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. It was just cool and breezy enough that the soup really hit the spot.

There are moments, as I prepare for a race, from plunking down the money for lodging and plane fare to the hassle of travel, that I wonder why I’m doing all this. There’s nothing to get nervous about, yet I still have a hard time sleeping the night before a race—crazy!

But then the moment comes when I line up at the start and suddenly, it is all worthwhile and I wonder why I ever thought otherwise.

There were well over 7,000 people in this race, the first event in a weekend that included kids’ races and a half and full marathon the following day. Off-season in Virginia Beach is the perfect time to stage such an enormous event. The hotels and restaurants are plentiful and there’s a state-of-the-art convention center to hold packet pick-up, an expo and a slate of speakers. A Hilton Hotel has to be one of the most comfortable places ever to stay warm during the moments before the race start.

Sixteen “corrals” kept the runners separated according to predicted times and staggered their start so that the fairly narrow boardwalk area never seemed crowded. Runners celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with lots of “wearing of the green.”

Being part of the USATF (track and field organization) made this huge race seem small and intimate. A separate awards ceremony was held following the race for the couple hundred of us there from all across the country. Old friendships were renewed and there was the usual chatter about upcoming races and dealing with injuries. Runners are such a congenial crowd, it is a pleasure to interact with them.

I can’t think of a better way to spend a weekend.

Dave Klibbe is happy the race is over. Waiting to board the plane for home.