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.

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