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.

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