Monthly Archives: December 2012

Running the numbers for 2012… and planning for 2013

Today I ran a chilly and invigorating 7.5 miles along the waterfront, which brought my total mileage for 2012 to 600.54 miles (I had to run that last half mile just to be sure!). At the beginning of December my 600-mile goal for the year had been looking a bit iffy, but I dug in and managed to do 40 miles over the final two weeks. I didn’t quite meet my original goal of hitting a lifetime total of 2,000 miles this year — I’m 21+ miles short. However, this sets me up for a nice goal for 2013!

If I do 650 miles next year (a modest increase over this year), I’ll hit a lifetime total of just over 2,620 miles by the end of 2013. That would be the equivalent of 100 full marathons — or for that matter 200 half marathons — I like that!!

As for the number of half marathons I’ve actually run, well, this year I did four and continued my streak of a new personal record with each race. Starting in Palm Springs CA in February with a 2:37:44, I worked my way down to 2:14:29 in Victoria BC in October. I’m not sure how I’m going to beat that time next year… but I continue to surprise myself.

In addition to doubling my lifetime total half marathons from four to eight, I also ran a staged “marathon” in Alaska, completing four races over a five-day period that added up to a slightly short 24.9 miles. I ran in pouring rain on muddy trails and fell in love with trail running.

It was a very good running year!

For next year, I’m registered for two half marathons so far: the Whidbey Island Half Marathon on April 14 and my fourth North Olympic Discovery Half Marathon in my local town on June 2. After that I’m not sure… I’ve promised CFL that I’ll do more mid-summer hiking next year.

But wait… I was talking to a friend the other night and we somehow agreed to run across Olympic National Park one long summer day next year. It’s 44 miles of steep trails and stream fords from the Quinault River to the Elwha River. She is a marathoner and might conceivably pull it off in a day, but I’d be thrilled if I could do it in TWO days! I might have to back away from that “goal.” Still, it’s calling to me a little bit… there is so much romance to the idea of traveling across the Olympics on foot, at whatever pace I’m able to manage. CFL even tells me he’d join me for a two-day trip. Stay tuned…

As I prepare to say goodbye to 2012 and welcome 2013, I have so many things to be grateful for and happy about. It’s been a year of big changes and grand new adventures. I continue to believe that wonderful things are possible if we can just slow down, put one foot in front of the other, and enjoy the views every moment along the way.

Happy New Year, and cheers!

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If you knew… what would you do?

A friend asked me a hypothetical question yesterday — one of those annoying yet thought-provoking questions that you’d like to brush off but you just can’t:

“If you knew you would be crippled with bad knees when you’re 80, would you stop running today?”

I replied, “No. I don’t believe that I’m hurting my knees by running. I don’t accept your premise.”

Then I lost half a night’s sleep trying to fully think through and justify my position.

Today I came back to that person with a counter-question: “If you knew you would have a heart attack someday while hiking, would you stop hiking today?” He replied, “No, because I figure I’d die quickly and painlessly doing something I love. But YOU could be crippled if you ruin your knees by running.”

Well. Let’s give that position some thought.

One day almost eleven years ago I was walking down a half-flight of stairs, missed the last step, and broke my foot. After that accident and its lingering effects, I spent the next seven years treating myself like a cripple and fearing the next fall.

If I’d known I was going to injure myself that day, would I have gotten out of bed?

Any given day could be our last. None of us knows when our number will be up, or how we’ll go. Does that mean I shouldn’t get out of bed today?

I do tend to listen to my body and I try to rely on it as a source of valuable data about how things are going. I intend to live for a very long time and I intend to be active for as long as I possibly can. Here are some things that my body is telling me about my having taken up running four years ago:

  • I was flabby then; I am not flabby now.
  • My feet hurt — a lot — then; they sometimes complain a bit now, but they are strong and show no signs of crumbling.
  • My balance was tenuous then; now I can run on rugged, bumpy trails. I no longer fear falling because I have good reason to believe I’m not going to fall.
  • I had to take walk breaks after 1/10th of a mile then; now I can run 13.1 miles without stopping.
  • My resting pulse has dropped from about 60 to about 54.
  • I was prone to depression and seasonal affective disorder then; now I can go out and run in the rain or when the temperature is in the 30s (like today) and come home feeling happy to be alive.
  • I stand up straighter and smile a whole lot more than I did then.
  • I have never been healthier in my life. Not when I was a kid and “galloped” everywhere pretending to be a horse. Not when I was a student scaling the hills of Westwood at UCLA.

Okay, so my knees hurt a little bit after a hard run. Okay, so I have to limit my running to three times a week to allow for recovery days. I’m in my late 50s! I fully understand that I’m not invincible.

I believe my running is strengthening my body, not damaging it. My knees are not going to get any stronger by sitting around doing nothing! “Use it or lose it,” as they say.

I’ve learned to listen closely to my body and take the extra time when I need it, take the walk breaks when it’s a casual, no-pressure run, and save myself for the days when there is an official clock and my finishing time matters. I do want to keep running into my 60s and 70s and yes, maybe even my 80s. Why would I want to stop doing something that has had so many positive effects in every aspect of my life?

Tomorrow morning I’m going to get out of bed. I’m certainly not going to lie there dreading the possibility that it’s my last day of life. I’m going to walk down the stairs without fear. I have some errands to take care of in the morning, and it’s going to be a busy day. But I think I’ll squeeze in three easy miles on the treadmill tomorrow afternoon, because I have plans that will cause me to miss my usual long Sunday run. And because my knees feel great and want more than the five miles along the waterfront that I had time for today.

Some say it’s an addiction. I say it’s a healthy way of life. And I think running a few half marathons might be just the thing to do when I’m in my 80s. I might even finally win my age group. 🙂

What do you think?