|It isn't getting any easier! My first 10k race.|
photo by Denis Nally
This year's running season was an improvement over last year's, in that we got incredibly effective vaccines (thank you, scientists!) which allowed many of the regular road races in the Capital Region to come back live.
My personal goals stayed the same, which is to just keep at it and try to maintain the pace I had established in recent years for my usual 5k distance. But that's getting harder with age. In fact, I now think, in my 64th year, that I've already peaked. Which is OK - and that's the meaning at the heart of today's story.
Now, that doesn't mean I couldn't improve my times - barring injury, it would definitely be possible, as I believe any trainer would attest. However, it would take more and more time and effort at this age, which to me is simply not worth it. After all, the benefit - and purpose - of all this is to be healthy, not to be faster than someone else. And it's well documented that the speed you run has almost nothing at all to do with the health benefits you gain from running.
So, this year, as before, I continued to run approximately every other day, for about two to five miles each time, totaling around 10 to 12 miles per week. I participated in seven races, including a couple of virtuals, and one 10k race, the rest being 5ks. I do have one more 5k race to go, a tiny one in Alplaus, where my in-laws live - so I'll have a nice little cheering section, and one last chance to set a PR (that's runner slang for personal record) for 2021 before the cold weather sends me back to the indoor track.
|Happy after a lovely virtual race on the |
Shining Sea Bikeway in Falmouth, Mass.
photo by Karen Ciancetta
Case in point: For this year's JCC Dunkin' Run (my "home" race, as the course is right by my house), I decided to try the 10k distance, even though I was the defending champion in my age group at the 5k distance from the last time they had the race in 2019. I'd run 10k a few times in training and figured I could break 58 minutes or, if having a really good day, maybe even break 57.
In the end, I gave it my all (as you can see in the finish-line snap at the top of this post) and clocked in at 57:20 - finishing last out of seven men in my age group. It's not like it was even close - four of those guys were a full 10 minutes ahead of me - which is like 25 runs in baseball - and I honestly can't begin to understand how they're physically able to do it. But, for me, it was still a PR for the distance, and a successful effort.
Also, underlining the fun that comes from joining the runners' community in these events, the person who finished directly in front of me was the women's 15k winner and directly behind me was the second-place finisher - you heard right, they ran 50% farther than I did in about the same time. Two weeks later that same pair - 30-year-old Caitie Meyer and her friendly 37-year-old rival Karen Bertasso Hughes - finished 4th and 6th in the Freihofer's Run for Women. Nice company to be with on a weekend morning!
In the end, I am most grateful simply to be able to run as a senior, and to be in good health at this perilous time in our history. I may never again break 26 minutes for a 5k run, but I hope to be able to run, however slowly, for many years to come.