I’m one year away from 50. How many marathons can I possibly have left?
How many of you have ever felt that way before? Lots of runs under my belt. Lots of races. Lots of vaseline. Lots of shoes. It doesn’t quite rub off me as it used to. This I noticed back in November when after a long run I limped all the way home. Someone on Dundas Street even asked if I was alright. (And that was from after a jog! Not even a workout or fartleks; just my usual slog out-and-back along the MGT and I look like Roberto Durán).
That was a new experience: a pronounced post-run limp. So I’ve been cognizant of my limitations.
I’ve had to adapt. Last May in Ottawa I had an excruciating marathon and needed medical support. After that, I had a new goal for my fall marathon, my next race: finish with grace.
More and more, as I age into running—or as I feel my age effect what my body can do—the overwhelming sensation is gratitude. Running has so wildly impacted my life. From my friends to my vacations, my work, my Rolodex of who I talk to in this world, who my heroes are and, if I’m being honest, who the villains are, too. Running has been a near daily occurrence for more than fifteen years.
I love that I’ve learned how to be smart with my running.
My fall marathon, after Ottawa in Hamilton, was paced correctly. I was in control the entire way. When it hurt, I popped an energy gel. When I got tired, I plugged in my tunes. After the race, I could barely move. Again, it didn’t look great. I needed support to make it from the finish line to my car. Should I really be doing this again? I imagine, as I keep getting older, the results will only be worse.
I think that’s the point of running and ageing. The challenges become different. Now I think much less about my times and much more about how I feel during the race. (Admittedly, without a firm time goal, I’ve become more nonchalant about practice. This has made achieving any sort of time goal impossible). But each race presents its own experiences. You can have a runner’s high running slowly and you can get a PB and feel bummed. For something as simple as running down the highway, strange things seem to happen all the time.
I don’t know that my running means more to me now that I find it harder. I know I no longer take it for granted, and I also know that my last four bibs I moved into the kitchen from downstairs in the basement.
On being a runner on my forty-ninth birthday? I’m going out for a run.