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Thursday, November 10, 2022

Running at 64

Last outdoor run of the year: Struggling a bit, but still holding up (a tree)
photo by Dick Bennett
Well, it looks like ol’ Father Time has begun to catch up with me, making this year’s running season a bit of a setback. For a couple of months I was plagued by minor injuries – or perhaps they are better called “conditions.” Left-hip sciatica that made half of my leg numb (hard to run when your leg can’t feel), a nagging pain in my right big toe (arthritis, gout, or a strained tendon?), and the occasional basketball-induced sprained ankle conspired to reduce my usual training to a mere trickle for most of the summer.

Before all that first-world agony, I had an OK start to the season, running my usual slate of 5k races in April, May, and June at a reasonably decent pace for springtime. That amounted to one race each month, with two top-three age-group finishes being the results, more or less in line with past years.

Finishing the Dunkin' Run 5k in 28:19
photo by Joe Putrock
But then the problems began, and I struggled to recover – though I’m glad to report some minor success in the end, with moderately acceptable showings in my last two races of the season. That included a surprising 2nd-place age-group finish in my home race, the Dunkin’ Run 5k, for which I received a rather ugly medal – a fitting representation of the overall season, during which I never broke 28 minutes for a 5k, a mark that was so routine just a year ago as to be unremarkable. Now, all at once, it’s unattainable.

But that’s OK. I’ve seen age suddenly overtake many of my senior-league basketball cronies, when guys in their sixties and seventies who for decades have appeared impervious to wear and tear seem to lose their sharpness and skill almost overnight. You never know when it’s going to hit, or how hard – but it absolutely will come.

This awareness of the universal fragility of our mortal body has made me that much more grateful that I still can get out for a good run on a beautiful fall day, and can still walk onto (and off of) a basketball court under my own steam. Cherish those moments!

And I truly do … with hoops season in full swing, my team is off to an impressive 6-1 start, and my injuries (for now) have subsided, leaving me able to play at my best most of the time. Though it’s not the same as a beautiful long jog in the open air, it’s still a good run, with all the attendant healthy benefits. As for racing: There's always next year!

On another note, somewhere amid the physical limitations of the summer, I managed to get up on water skis for a few minutes, which was terrific fun. It was the first time I'd tried that in at least twenty years, and will probably be my last, as I was sore for days afterward! Here’s proof of the feat, offered up for your amusement (video by William Laviano).

Hope you have a great fall and winter! See you next year.