On Sunday I ran a half marathon–13.1 miles, a beautiful course through four covered bridges in the next town. It’s nothing I would have predicted myself doing even a few months ago. All goes to show that no matter how old you get, life is full of surprises and you can do things that you never imagined.
Back in the late 1980s I used to run, but I let it go a few years later. About a year ago, I found a tape I used then in a box with some old stuff– beat music for a 9 minute mile. At 60, I’m far from that now–I’m lucky to run a 5K in 33 minutes, and it took me 2:44 to run the half marathon. But, there are relatively few of us older folks out for these races, especially the longer ones. I was the only female over 60 at a 10 miler I did a few weeks ago, and I came in first out of three in my age group for the half-marathon, despite the slow time.
It’s not a desire to recapture my lost youth that has gotten me to take up running–rather, something much more serious. Late last year I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and as a result, I have to take a medication that suppresses all estrogen production in my body–and with it the protective effects on the bones. To prevent bone loss, I need to do weight-bearing exercise, and running is simply the most time effective and logical thing to do (along with some weight training). I started on a treadmill in the winter, and moved outdoors with the coming of spring.
Running has had a lot of benefits. I’ve lost weight, and feel much better. It clears my head. (At first, I had to have an iPod with me at all times–or so I thought. One day I forgot it and realized that I really didn’t need it–though I still take it on occasion.) And I enjoy the races and challenging myself, and meeting new people (some of them virtually, on Dailymile where I record my workouts). I’m not fast, but I’m steady.
In June I took a class in Chi Running, which I strongly recommend to anyone who is taking up this sport. The techniques of Chi running, which are based in part on the Chinese T’ai Chi, help the runner maintain proper form, relax while running, and most important, prevent injuries. I am still working on the technique, but there are certain aspects of it I feel I have mastered pretty well–like running uphill without huffing and puffing.
Running has also helped me reconnect with family–three of my first cousins run, as well one of my cousins’ grown daughters. One of my cousins has lost a lot of weight and taken up triathletics–you can read about her amazing journey here. We all plan to do the Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon in Savannah in November.
My goals are to run more half marathons, as well as shorter races, and improve my form and times. Though it took a major illness to get me here, I will keep running as long as I can.