Yes. I am still running. I have been since I was in my mid-thirties with a houseful of overactive kids. I used to hit the road early for a short time every morning, savoring the quiet and the chance to think my own thoughts and plan my day. I made sure I was home in time to make breakfast and get kids off to school.
Forty-some years later, I still go out every day — sometimes for longer, sometimes for a walk instead of a run — and for the very same reasons. Except these days I don’t have to hurry home. I often think about how fortunate I am to have this outlet in my life. On weekends I run with a friend who after almost every run says, “Ah, that was good. Whatever happens during the rest of the day, it will be OK. We got our run in.”
In the 1980s I went through an obsessive period with my running, cranking up my mileage and sometimes competing in a couple of marathons in the same year.
I planned to quit running when I turned 70, but I was having so much fun when the time came that I decided to keep at it. During the past decade I’ve had some great trips that revolved around running. I did a marathon in Tokyo, a couple of half-marathons in California and several shorter races in Seattle and Spokane in Washington, Syracuse and Albany in New York state.
I became familiar with something called the age-graded scale which is almost enough to inspire anyone over 40 to start running. It presents awards (even money!) to the highest “age-graded” score in a race, a calculation that involves a formula meshing finish time with age. It is not part of the scoring system in every race, but it has surprised me pleasantly several times. The older you are, the more this system works in your favor.
This summer I will enter a new decade. I’m not going to quit running, though racing is becoming less of a priority. I will do some races, the especially the Festival of Races in Syracuse because I just got a note from Dave Oja, the amazing race director. “I know you are entering a new age group. Just wanted to ask you to be sure to come to our race this year.”
Unbelievable! Overall, oldsters don’t get a whole lot of notice when they run in races. There aren’t many of us, and that, no doubt, is at least part of the reason why. And, you guessed it, we don’t run as fast.
Racing has always been the icing on the cake for me, not the reason why I run. I’ll keep on until I can’t do it any more, and then I’ll walk. And I’ll never run out of things to say about my favorite sport. I’m delighted to have been given this opportunity to yak on about it, and now and then about other things as well.