Tuesday, December 29, 2009


As seen in the L.A. Times, August, 2009

May 3rd I gave myself a sixty-fifth birthday present. I came in first female in my age group at the Orange County Half Marathon. Crossing the finish, my watch read two hours, thirty seconds but the official print-out registered a disappointing two hours, one minute. I liked the “one” by my name meaning first place, but my goal was to come in under two hours. By my watch, I was closer.

Do you think I’m a steely-eyed, square jawed competitor focused on goals, times, and race strategy?

O.K. now for full disclosure. Yeah, I’m getting Medicare. I’m a retired teacher who spent years trying to hit a tennis ball back across the net. No, I never succeeded with tennis nor any other sport. As a kid, neighborhood dance studio lessons in “Tap, ballet, and acrobatic” were my only activity and I didn’t have to try out. My parents paid.

So how did an old lady become so angry about 30 seconds? Thirty-two years ago I gave birth to my first child. The day I left the hospital, I watched the new mother in the next bed slip her long legs into skin tight Levis to go home. I put on maternity clothes. Since I’m only 5 feet tall, I had to do something or I’d be 5 feet across. Dieting sent me foraging in the refrigerator so I started jogging a block in the morning while my husband and baby slept.

I hated it. I despised the early alarm; jogging hurt; gasping for air was unbecoming. Before long I jogged two blocks, then half a mile. It still hurt, but the benefits became evident. Jogging was weight control. I didn’t need to belong to a club or even have a partner AND my family slept through my work-out, providing no-cost baby-sitting. Best part, I slimmed down to a size two, still eating more than my 200 pound husband.

For three decades I continued morning runs, but I never looked upon jogging as a competitive sport UNTIL I joined Cal Coast Running Club! Oh boy, last year this little grandma qualified for and finished THE BOSTON MARATHON. Next November you’ll find me running the New York Marathon. Now you know how I became the type to come in first and still be angry about thirty seconds.

Cal Coast Coach Sumner and my fellow runners taught me about race prep, speed work, and pace. And, I’m having fun! Now I understand why my boyfriends loved to compete on teams. At the race, I passed lots of younger runners. I enjoyed that. I ran along the bay watching fireboats salute us with cascades of water. I loved that. I felt the cool breeze as I counted down the miles. I checked my pace watch with satisfaction, I was flying! I just wish I could have come in under two hours.

And I wish the race organizers would correct their official timing apparatus to agree with my watch.

My First Coach helps with a WIN!

1st place oc marathon dec 8 05

1. work out with a pace group. I could not keep up with the 10 minute pace group members during any work out. I started at 14 and thought i was going to die on that first run. I had fallen on my left knee the day after I got out of physical therapy for an earlier fall on that knee, so, I did not start serious training for the marathon until about 6 weeks before. I was not ever successful on any work-out. I wasalways the last on in. I did not know whether i’d run the marathon or the half up until a few days before.

Usually I do my own training (several 20’s at a slow pace.) this time, i did sumner’s training with only one 18 mile run and no 20 or 20 plus. His runs went 14 16 18 12 8 6. I did not think I was prepared. As it turns out, maybe i overtrain and wear myself out.

2. I listened to the serious runners

a. I listened to Juan and ate half a steak 2 days before

b. I figured out on my own to relax my shoulders during the run

c. I listened to Hiroko and shook my feet a little to prevent foot pain

d. I listened to John and went out at a 10 minute pace and maintained pace throughout...also, “glide down the hills.”

3. I ate a lot of salmon including lox for the salt in the week before

4. I hydrated the days before

5. morning of, ate a scrambled egg, piece of toast, orange, half a banana

6. ran in 81/2 shoes with big arch supports and pads in the ball of the foot

7. Race day, stayed behind the 10 min group because I didn’t like the chatter, but i gave over my pace to them and did not beat myself up for being so slow or not passing some runner i spotted ahead. Staying at a pace is very powerful in itself.

8. During the race i thought, don’t waste energy tensing up the shoulders, ankles, etc. I raised my arms, stretched them behind me, relaxed my fingers, changed my step by pushing off at the toes, by shaking at the ankles.

9. I pictured my inner guide at a spot where my third eye is. The force pulled me forward, I didn’t have to try.

10. I dedicated the race to Sharon and his recovery to relax and see years of peace and prosperity in Israel

11. Ran two times at 7000 feet in the mountains ten days prior.

12. Gave myself the message during the marathon, “At this pace I can run forever.”

So, what do you get out of your run?

I wasn't always a SIXTY-FIVE-year-old runner. THAT sounds old to me...who is 65. Maybe that's one thing about running and one reason I write here. I feel the same as I did at 20 but I worry about my weight less. I wear a size 2. At twenty I wore a size...7 or 8. The thing is, I'm 5'2" so a size 2 works better than the size 7 did. Or...did I wear a size 1o? Oh well, happily, I don't remember.