I know I keep saying this, but it’s time to start running again

I haven’t blogged about running for a while because, well, I haven’t been running! I’ve been going through a spell where I wasn’t sure I’d be able to again; a few energy and injury issues, an aging body, and it’s easy to convince yourself that your running days are over. For those of us who have found peace, exhilaration, and a sense of well-being on the trail (even when we hurt all over!), it’s something you miss when you don’t do it. And when I see younger people out running our trails, which until very recently have had a coating of snow and ice on them but beckon just the same, I’m jealous. Whenever an injury or some other impediment gets in the way of being able to run, I console myself by thinking about how lucky I’ve been to take up running at an advanced age and have had so many wonderful experiences, including several half marathons and two marathons, all with my husband and brother. After all, I did pass the 70 mark last year. Be thankful for what you’ve been able to do and just enjoy walking.

Well, I was all right with this philosophy until I read an article last week about a remarkable woman named Chau Smith. Smith lives in Missouri in the U.S. and has run over 70 marathons in her life, although she didn’t start running until she was 48 years old. An astounding record, right? But she decided she wanted to do something really special for her 70th birthday and so signed on for the Triple 7 Quest. Now get this, the Triple 7 Quest consists of completing 7 marathons on 7 continents in 7 days! Even the logistics of getting to seven continents in seven days presents a major challenge. Then of course there is the jet lag associated with the travel, which is something that I really, really don’t like. But all of that is nothing compared to the physical and mental challenge of running a marathon on seven consecutive days. These were her race destinations, completed between January 25 and January 31 of this year: Perth, Australia; Singapore; Cairo; Amsterdam; Garden City, New York; Punta Arenas, Chile; and King George Island, Antarctica. Nine people completed this extraordinary “quest”; needless to say, Chau Smith was the oldest.

For those of us who spend days making sure the start of a race will go smoothly – having our clothes and accessories out and ready, eating our pasta meal the requisite numbers of hours in advance, and ensuring we have enough sleep the night before – consider this. According to the report in CNN online, the group’s connecting flight from Singapore to Cairo was delayed in Abu Dhabi, so they only had 10 minutes to get to their hotel room and change their clothes. I don’t know how many of you have travelled that kind of distance across that many time zones, but to consider changing into racing gear and starting a marathon immediately upon landing – especially your third marathon in three days – is impossible to contemplate. She completed it in 5 hours 51 minutes and proclaimed it her favourite race!

I might add, given the “immigrant” discussions currently ongoing in Smith’s country, that Chau Smith is an immigrant herself, having come to the U.S. after the Vietnam War; in fact, she runs with shrapnel in her leg because of the war. This woman doesn’t do anything by half measure; she typically works 10-hour days in her dry-cleaning business in Missouri. As she explained to reporters, she leads a stressful life but she feels better after running. I’m not so sure about how she must have felt at the end of this particular week of running, but I completely agree with that principle.

Her story has inspired me to reconsider just how lacking in energy I really am or how big a problem a sore heel can be. When I stopped my year back at work at the end of June I was raring to get back on the trails. I bought a new Training Diary, made a modest schedule with modest goals, reinstated my subscription to Runner’s World, and ran modestly until the end of September. Hmm. Sure, I’ve had some excuses, but it’s time to get that heel issue resolved and get back at it. I may never run another marathon, maybe not even a half, but there are trails out there just waiting for eager slow runners with modest goals!

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6 Responses to I know I keep saying this, but it’s time to start running again

  1. Roy McCarthy says:

    Some people are amazing. Some of us do a marathon and talk about it for months afterwards. Others just get up the next day and do another one. Good on you Jane for getting out there and enjoying the lanes and trails for as long as you are able. Many aren’t able and are missing out big time.
    I’m determined to make this a good running year – try to chase down my PBs (PRs) at age 64. Who knows how many years I’ve got left to attack my running like that.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Roy, this is the perfect year for you to work towards a PB, but the even better news is that then you will be perfectly prepared to kick butt the following year when you move into being the youngest in the 65-69 category! And don’t tell me that the categories in Jersey are only in 10 year gaps instead of 5 years (We have 10 year gaps here locally); you can always seek out the perfect race! Go, Roy, go!!

  2. jennypellett says:

    What an inspirational lady! And even if running isn’t your particular bag, the sentiment is the same. As in the words of the Nike logo – “Just Do It!”

    • Jane Fritz says:

      I love that logo. I had a friend in university administration who used to say that she should tattoo the Nike swish on her forehead as a response to her colleagues who would come in with complaints!

  3. DM says:

    wow, what a story! Aging wisely is my personal goal. My dad will turn 85 (I think) this year, and for as long as I remember, one of his mantra’s is this: “Retirement is not in my vocabulary” Yes, he has had to step away from various activities…last year was the last year he farmed the home place..decided getting in and out of the combine was getting to be too much. anyway, You go for it! I believe in you! DM

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Thanks, DM. I am reminded of one of my favourite stories of a good death involved a lovely man who had lived his entire life in the (mostly former, now) farming community not far from the town we live in, and where we lived in the 70s, when we had our life-altering farming experiences I’ve blogged about. He lived at the top of a hill from whence flowed his fields and barn, at the bottom of which was the country church the entire community attended. He owned the only combine in the community, and harvested everyone’s oats each Fall, including ours. As I said, he was a lovely man, salt of the earth and of the community. One Fall – he was in his early 80s – he came around and harvested the oats for every farm needing that work, finished his own field, ate his supper, took off his boots, went to sleep, and just didn’t wake up. His job was done, and done so well. His life was celebrated at the church across from his farm lane, and he was buried there. Talk about living your dash well.

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