It’s already week two of the Runner’s World Challenge for the Philadelphia Marathon. My e-mail from Bart Yasso came this morning and I started to sweat a little. My goal for the Challenge is to adjust my running to my aging body. I am staring down the barrel of the big 50 (49 in Oct…50 in 2012!). “The joys of aging” signs have crept up on me this past year. I am no longer able to read the fine print of menus and maps without my glasses. I notice saggy skin that makes me feel for a chicken. I never thought I would miss having a period. Then there is the weight gain in new places and my skirt length concerns me. There are bitter sweet melancholy moments when considering the empty nest–it’s hard to visualize life without children in my immediate orbit. The goal is to keep running as I age. I feel it is time to make the necessary adjustments for longevity. My last round of marathon training for the Shamrock Marathon made me realize that this change was needed. My usual plan left me tired and energy zapped. My toughest finish yet.
I was thinking of Joan Benoit Samuelson on a recent college visit with my daughter to Bowdoin College in Maine. As noted on their website: Nike donated the track renovation in honor of their corporate relationship with Joan Benoit Samuelson, a 1979 Bowdoin graduate and the 1984 Olympic Marathon champion. I was wondering how often she gets to that track and how graciously she has mastered the age thing. Joan Benoit at 54 is a huge inspiration.
I seem to find more and more information for the aging female runner and I am excited about that. It’s not only the young mothers and women hitting the road. The mid-life or “menopause marathon” seems a great way to transition through this milestone. I see the changes in my long distance friends. It’s almost as if at 48 it suddenly becomes hard to ignore. I am reminded of the elementary school years with my own children when a few years can make a noticeable difference. Fellow runners that are 42 or 43 show few signs of this pending metamorphosis. Don’t get me wrong, these older competitive women are taking nothing lying down. Their spirit is ageless. They are training as hard as ever with tweaks to accommodate for this aging process. Here are some areas to for me to consider/work on:
- Figuring out the best rest/run combination: I know I need more rest and cannot run as many days in a row without feeling exhausted.
- Energy from food: I cannot eat as much as I did before without gaining weight. My body seems to need less food.
- Pace: learning to run at a gentler pace. My mind wants to race but my body cannot keep up. Learning to be OK with a little slower pace so I can be out there longer.
I am excited to get training and figure it out. Bring it on! (but maybe not quite as fast !:)