Well, I was only about 25 minutes off world-record pace for the marathon. Unfortunately, I was running the half marathon in Akron today. Still, finishing in 2:29 and change is good. I’m thrilled I finished — and that I can still run a fairly easy half marathon after all these years.
As a footnote — I’ve included this photo by Mike Cardew of the Akron Beacon Journal. I wonder why the Beacon Journal doesn’t have a story about the race on its website even several hours after most of the marathon competitors finished? I digress.
I still enjoy running. I look forward to getting up every morning and hitting the streets at 5 a.m. For those of you who read this blog, you know I’ve been doing that most days for the past 25 years or so. And I have no plans to stop.
But when you are running with a crowd but essentially by yourself for two and a half hours, it does give you some time to think and to reflect. And here’s what I was thinking about.
- Well-regarded author Haruki Murakami shared his thoughts about running in his book, “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.” We’re about the same age; we’ve been at this about the same number of years. Yet he is a competitor in these events — still able to run a marathon in about four hours. Those days are over for me. And I’m accepting those limitations now, in running and in other areas of life. Folks, the clock doesn’t lie — and it doesn’t stop.
- Saying that, running a marathon or half marathon as you get older really does represent a challenge. Physically. Sure. But also mentally. Can’t risk going too fast. But going too slow — for someone like me — presents a risk as well. The leg muscles contract and stiffen. In part because of years of use and abuse. I noticed that this morning at around mile 11, a nastly uphill grade on Akron’s interbelt that went on and on and on.
- But the mental part of running is one of the reasons I keep at it. I don’t think there is a better time to think. To sort our problems. To make decisions without the intrusions of cell phones, e-mail, TV, whatever. I can still organize in my mind what I want to write — whether it is a blog post, a magazine article, a press release, etc. — during the time that I’m running each morning. I’m not a great writer certainly. But I don’t think I would be even an average one without that time each day that I give as a gift to myself.
- I’d still like to have the opportunity to run with some of my friends — those of us who forged such strong friendships over the duration of 20-some years and thousands of miles. We’re going to have a reunion of sorts this coming July 4 at the Peachtree 10K in Atlanta. But essentially those days are over now for a host of reasons. So I take joy in the accomplishments of my new friends like Gina Prodan. Gina ran her first marathon today. I’ll check on Facebook when I’m done here to see how she did.
- The Akron Marathon is really a big event for the city of Akron. It’s well-managed and it’s gaining big numbers of runners. Now — if someone could just find a way to avoid that long stretch on the interbelt beginning at mile 11.
Between miles seven and 11 this morning I was feeling good enough that the thoughts of another marathon actually crept into my mind. Nah. Don’t think so. The clock doesn’t lie.