I choose to be young at heart! It’s not the easiest path, but it’s the best one I’ve found. It’s so much better than lethargy, resignation, settling, etc. To me, it’s choosing living over dying!
I’m grateful for my amazing daughter Annie, who’s my accountability partner. We share a common goal of running the Tri-Cities half marathon in 13 days. Yesterday was a big test. Are we ready? Will we be able to run the entire race, or will some walking be mixed in? So a week ago we planned a ten-mile run for yesterday. It was intimidating and exciting for both of us. We are in good condition, earned by persistent commitment to regular exercise, in many forms. But we’ve emphasized variety in our workouts, rather than focusing on distance running. Running has always given me my best endorphin highs, but in recent years I’ve noticed more aches and pains. Life has been busy. I’ve done more weight-lifting, bicycling, stair-stepping, elliptical machines, walking, hiking and eating. I love the variety of life. But I’ve also gained ten pounds since my fastest running days. More weight to carry around. Additional weight is not the best thing for distance running, even if it’s in the form of upper body muscle (okay, belly fat too). It’s been over five years since my last half marathon. My spirit is willing, but is my body able?
Hell yes! The realities of aging show that speed declines over time. This is a lame excuse to not fight back! I’m getting my run on!
The sun was shining, so I savored the hour-long drive to the Tri-Cities. Annie was ready to go. There was some wind chill and I really hadn’t brought the best layers; my mind had locked in on sunny and warm. So I ran with heavy sweats as outer layers on top and bottom, which I had brought for pre-run comfort. No excuses!
We followed our plan and kept the speed down. The miles rolled past as we talked, agreeing that the first hour was easy. We followed the Richland trails along the Columbia River, starting at Anthony’s and heading upriver. Though we planned on five miles each way, we went to the WSU campus before turning back; we were gifted a bonus mile!
Around six miles in, my groin started to tighten a little, and around the seven or eight mile mark we agreed that our legs were tiring. Accountability partnering would help us press on. Each mile becomes harder than the last.
Quitting is the easier, softer way. Our minds can dream up plenty of reasons to stop. You’ve already gone eight miles; that’s plenty! Going farther could lead to injury. Moderation in all things. It’s time to rest!
So it takes mental toughness to press on. I know we have some, based on past experiences. One foot in front of the other. Focus on form, to avoid injury. Find the softest path. Breathe. Keep going.
Eleven miles! The last one felt brutal. Annie suggested stretching it out for the last few hundred yards, so she did. I was down to one speed. Just like the bicycles of my youth! She waited for me, and we hit the finish together. Drinks have never tasted better!
We believe we’ll be able to finish the race, anticipating that our bodies will recover and come back stronger than before. We may eat energy gels earlier on race day, and perhaps add another. There will be even more excitement. How tough will we be? How fast will we be? With some luck, we will see! :)