On Sunday, April 10, 2010 the Golden Gate Bridge will be part of the route of the San Francisco Half Marathon. I’ll be there, chugging along to my Michael Franti music, enjoying the view and trying to finish the 13.1 mile track in under three hours.
What compelled me to run half marathons for the first time in my early fifties? I wanted something my body and my mind could do together. I resisted my aging schedule and ran my first half marathon in 2008 at age 53. I was really slow – women with twin jogging strollers passed me, a blind man with a guide runner passed me.
Gradually my pace improved. Now I can easily finish in under three hours, with no strain. I’ll never be fast. I’m built for endurance, not for speed.
If you are not a born gazelle running comes hard. Training is arduous and slow, joints act up, there’s never enough good weather running time to prepare. Walking is easier and so much more civilized – why push it?
There’s a secret to my 13.1 mile events. Adrenaline and music take me about 6 miles, music alone takes me to the 10 mile marker, and then, hopefully, defiance kicks in. I am defying my age, defying the couch and the TV and just trying for a good finish time and no blisters. At mile post 10, I start mentally recycling my endorphins for the last 3.1 mile push. My life is flashing before my eyes along with the scenery. I’ve envisioned this place I’ve run to, and now it’s just us – just the two of us – my mind and my body alone together, in the moment, cussing each other out, and so happy together.