Late Blooming Boomer (Slow to Slower)
I am a health and happiness junkie. In retirement from a rewarding career with the US Forest Service, I have devoted myself to helping others as a life coach, writer, and volunteer with our local running club. I have led a Galloway marathon class and started a Back of the Pack group that includes many of our club’s most enthusiastic members.
I began to run in my early 30s, then stopped abruptly with the pervasive nausea and relentless fatigue of pregnancy. After my son was born, I carried about 30 extra pounds for 15 years. Although I occasionally ran a block or two; feet, ankles, and other joints complained and I stopped. Frustrated and sedentary, I enrolled in Weight Watchers and began to walk around the block every day. Over time, pounds vanished while mileage increased. The year I turned 55, I ran three marathons and was hooked on my new sport.
I was never fast, but as a “pre-Title IX first-year baby boomer” I gathered a few age-group awards before the faster youngsters five years behind caught up with me. Then, while ramping up for a fourth marathon, I was diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm. The prescribed drugs slowed my heart rate and reduced the flow of oxygen to hard-working muscles. Slow running became slower and even my own age group left me behind.
That year I faced a critical turning point. I was still a new runner in that exciting honeymoon phase when it is all good. My ego had set sights on qualifying for the Boston Marathon at 65. I needed only to improve my marathon time by 15 minutes and let the age-based standard catch up. Then, suddenly, I faced a life-threatening condition. I had to decide between stopping altogether and moving to the back of the pack. It wasn’t really a hard decision, though it did entail long conversations with my ego. Boston probably wasn’t on our new race schedule.
I focused more on the easy runs, seeking out lovely natural settings to enjoy at a relaxed pace. I emphasized distance over speed, enjoying the sustained moderate effort needed to finish a half marathon. I looked for events with generous time limits, paying special attention to those that welcomed walkers (who often reached the finish ahead of me). At 64, I added the goal of finishing half marathons in half the states. Last year, that quest culminated with the Hapalua Half Marathon in Hawaii. This year, I am celebrating my 70th year with my first full marathon in 14 years and a berth on the Great Alaskan Running Cruise.
A few years ago, Mile 22 Bags interviewed me about my late-in-life running habit and our Run Wild Missoula Back of the Pack group. They put together a fun 5-minute video with great music. Click here to enjoy it.
I have found that speed is not needed to enjoy running and its benefits. I have found that distance is a worthy motivator and traveling to new places is more fun when running is involved. I have found the deep companionship of running buddies and the delight of helping others reach their goals. I have found what it means to Run 4 Joy.
I have an email-based life-coaching practice, Wellbuddies Coaching, for those who want to make personal change with a systematic plan and a committed partner. For more information, see www.wellbuddies.com.
I write weekly email essays on personal growth topics. In each issue, I reflect on everyday experience and challenge readers to take a fresh look at health and happiness. See Reflections archives for past issues and click here to subscribe.
I have collected 100 favorite essays into a book: Going Deeper, Reflections on Challenge and Change. Signed paperbacks are available by ordering directly from me ($10 plus $4 shipping & handling). Going Deeper is also available from amazon.com in paperback or Kindle format. For details click here.