Well, I had a great time in Pittsburgh over the weekend, completing the half marathon in the City of Bridges on a very hot, humid day. And it’s still a thrill for me to be able to participate in an event like that — and make my way to the finish line still running. But it ain’t getting any easier. And something tells me that the advancing time on the clock is running in sync with the passing of the years.
Here are some random thoughts that crossed my mind during the run:
* The Pittsburgh Marathon like most big venue events [Cleveland and Akron among them] has become an important generator of dollars for the local economy. Given that this was a weekend in early May, it was hard to get a hotel reservation and the restaurants in the downtown were jammed.
* The sports expos have become a moveable Wal-Mart, where you can buy everything from T-shirts to home gutter guards.
* No matter how hard you train and prepare for a half marathon or marathon, the weather conditions on the day of the run can make all the difference. Yesterday it was hot (high ’70s), humid and sunny — with shade along the course harder to find than a Cleveland Browns jersey in The Steel City. The hot conditions caused a number of runners [with a record number transported to the hospital] to make an unscheduled and unwelcome stop at one of the medical facilities. And at one point during the morning medical officials feared that they might be facing an emergency. Fortunately, that didn’t happen. [But for those running in Cleveland May 20, if it's hot: drink plenty of fluids and don't be afraid to slow down, or walk.]
* Running as I do at 5:30 a.m., either on a treadmill or on the concrete in nearly complete darkness, doesn’t prepare you to run with the sun fully awake. Next time I do this, I’m going to do some training runs at a time when I might actually see some normal people in the light of day.
* One of the biggest changes in long-distance running over the years has been the increasing number of older runners and women. I’m told that more than half of those running the half marathon yesterday were women. Good.
* And probably the biggest lesson for me was that age 64 is really not the new 40. But hey. I’m still enjoying running and having the opportunity to participate in an event like the Pittsburgh Marathon.