PROFILE--Now 82, Libby James has been running for 48 years

(5-2019) In 2016, youthful 80-year-old Libby James broke the USATF 80-84 5K record with her 25:14 clocking (8:07/mile) in Syracuse NY. James also holds the current USA  records for the 80-84 age-group in the 10K and 15K distances. On Memorial Day she’ll be running the Bolder Boulder 10K, where she holds the age-group record (62:22) by a mere ...18 minutes.

Your career/profession? I’ve had a checkered career that includes 15 years working with single teen mothers to help them get GEDs and jobs. I’ve edited local magazines and done lots of freelance writing. Currently I write regularly for the North Forty News based in Fort Collins. I’ve published five books, three for young people, one on running and one that grew out of my experience living in

PROFILE: Norm Spitzig has been running for 53 years

Half Marathon, Dec, 2018
Norm Spitzig figures that he has run 2000 miles or more for 46 years. He hopes to reach 50, and then maybe to taper off a bit. At age 68 going on 69, Spitzig ran a 1:56 half marathon last December. He's fond of quoting Albus Dumbledore from Harry Potter: “It is not our abilities that show who we really are. It is our choices.” He also reminds us all not to sweat the small stuff, because it's ALL small stuff.

Career-profession? I spent my professional life working in the world of private clubs, early on as a general manager and, for the past two decades, as Principal and Senior Partner in Master Club Advisors, where I continue to focus my efforts on executive search, leadership workshops for boards of directors, strategic planning facilitation, and speaking to assorted club associations and groups literally around the world. All four of my private-club-centered novels (Private Clubs in America and around the World, Murder and Mayhem at Old Bunbury, How Now, Norm’s Tao, and Soul on Nice) continue to sell reasonably well because, well, most everyone agrees that they are pretty darn funny. (Book details are available at www.CliveEndiveOgiveIV.com and www.NormSpitzig.com.)

When did you start running and why? I began running regularly as a junior in high school, I think because I didn’t make the football, basketball and baseball teams—and I dearly wanted to participate/compete in a sport. (Cross country here I come!) It has turned out spectacularly well for me: I’ve been running, and loving every minute of it, for over fifty years!

How much did you run in your peak years, miles/week? I had one year when I surpassed 3,000 logged running miles back in the early 1980’s, but far more importantly, I have been very consistent in striving for, and almost always reaching, at least 2,000 logged running miles in any  given calendar year—something that I have accomplished 46 times during my time on earth. I’m hoping to make it an even 50 before I begin to back off a bit.

Top performances or running achievements? My best time in the marathon is 2:51:30, recorded at the 1982 America’s Marathon in Chicago. Other “notable” personal bests (at least from my perspective!) are:
*** my 1982 Fort Wayne 50-mile run in 6:49:04,
*** my 35:50 in the 1982 Cincinnati Home Loan 10K,
*** my fifty-five minutes flat in the 1981 Cincinnati “Mini-Marathon” (15 kilometers), and
*** my 1:21:02 in the 1981 Covington (Kentucky) Wade YMCA Half Marathon.
Norm and wife, Cody


Total lifetime miles? That’s an easy one: I officially surpassed 100,000 logged running miles on March 27th , 2019. My highest weekly mileage is right at 100, a feat that I accomplished exactly once. (And that was enough!) As of this writing, I am around 100,100 miles, “off and running” on my second one-hundred-thousand miles!

Current running, cross-training, strength and stretching?
I do a fair amount of stretching before and after my runs, but my cross-training and strength work are virtually non-existent (unless you count my “reps” raising the evening glasses of Chardonnay to my mouth!).

A recent race result? I’m not sure if what I do still qualifies as “racing”, but I do faithfully participate in one (and only one) running event each year: The Mount Dora, Florida Half Marathon every third Sunday in December. I ran a 1:56:43 in the 2018 event, a mere 35:41 slower than my personal best over the same distance in Kentucky thirty-eight years ago. Alas, tempus fugit.

Does getting slower bother you? How do you stay motivated? Not one bit! I still very much love to run—and decades of experience tells me that, no matter how badly I feel right before I start, I will surely feel a whole lot better, both physically and mentally, when I finish. People who are
looking for “motivation” to run are missing the point; just get out there and do it like you always do!

Any changes in diet, weight, supplement usage? My wife, Cody, is an excellent cook—she owns a wonderful little breakfast and lunch cafĂ© in downtown Mount Dora FL called Cody’s on 4 th (www.Codyson4th.com)—so I’ve always been spoiled with healthy, tasty, home-cooked food. Lucky me! My daily “supplements” currently consist of a multivitamin, an aspirin, some potato chips and Chardonnay.

Injuries or other health setbacks? I have been very blessed when it comes to my running: I have had very few injuries—and those that I have had have been minor. I attribute this to a combination of luck, clean living, good genes, and the fact that I have enough sense to “back off” or take a day or two off if and when I sense something “wrong” with my body. I just don’t have the temperament to be a streak runner, out there each and every single day come hell or high water.


Favorite inspirational quotes?
1--"The six best doctors in the world are sunlight, rest, exercise, diet, self-confidence and friends.” – Steve Jobs
(2) “It is not our abilities that show who we really are. It is our
choices.” – Albus Dumbledore
(3) “You can stand me up at the gates of hell and I won’t back down.” –Tom Petty
(4) “When I get my big raise, I’m going to spend ninety percent of it on wine, women and song. I’ll probably waste the other ten percent.” – Dizzy Dean

Three short tips for hopeful lifetime runners?
1--Take it one day at a time,
2--Keep your sense of perspective and sense of
humor.
3--Never forget this most basic rule of life: “Don’t sweat the small stuff—and it’s ALL small stuff.”

How does running and fitness improve your life on a daily/weekly basis? Running soothes the “Savage Type-A Beast” in me, it keeps me mentally sharp and physically fit, and it adds purpose and meaning to my life. Who could ask for more?!

How would you describe your philosophy of life, running, and aging? There is a large volume of research, beginning with the landmark MacArthur Foundation Study on Aging about 30 ago, that clearly demonstrates that much more is possible than once thought as we age. In fact, we now know that 70% of physical aging, and about 50% of mental aging, is determined by lifestyle—the choices we make every day. Rather than being a process of steady decline, aging can be a time of growth if we maintain our physical and mental skills, reduce our risk for disease and injury, and stay productive and engaged with life. Running dovetails into this research perfectly!

PROFILE--John Cahill is running (and racing) strong at age 95


Cahill races a 5K in Utah last fall.
(5-2019) In John Cahill's most recent race, the first weekend in April, he clocked a 2:54:25. That's about 10 minutes faster than his marathon time 23 years ago when he was 72. Of course, now that he's 95, Cahill is not running hard marathons any longer. As he says of his recent 2:54: "Not bad for an 11K." And we agree. He also says, "I will continue to get to the start lines on time, and to reach the finish." We like that attitude too, because it's all about attitude. Right?

Your career/profession? I practiced law for 26 years.  Then I decided to get an honest job. I am in the ski lodge business now.

When did you start running and why? I started in 1986 when I was 62 years of age.  I started running because I was overweight and wanted

PROFILE--Suzanne Ray has been running for 49 years


(4-2019) Although Suzanne Ray has been running since she was 17, she set most of her PRs after turning 40, including qualifying for the Olympic Marathon Trials, twice, in 1992 and 1996.  In March, the 66-year old from Oregon set her second age-group national record, cruising through the Oregon Road Runners Club 30K in St. Paul, Oregon, in 2:22.48, breaking the previous record by five minutes.

Career-profession? I’ve been a language arts teacher and cross-country coach for almost 40 years. I began coaching when my daughters reached middle school and I realized that there were no XC or track teams at their school in Anchorage, Alaska, where I was teaching. I started the first teams there with five boys and a few girls and developed it into a championship team that was featured in Runners’ World. My coaching philosophy remains the same: I want to develop life-long athletes who feel joy when they run. I use the “less is more” idea to keep kids from burning out mentally and physically.

When did you start running and why? Officially, 1970 but I began running in the early days before Title IX. I grew up in Alaska at a time when few girls were involved in organized sports, but I enjoyed biking, walking, skating, and downhill and cross-country skiing. In college (1970) I was required to take a swimming class. I felt so good after working out each morning in swim class that I decided to take tennis, dance, sailing, and finally “jogging.” For some reason, the jogging instructor sent me to run with the guys. After that class I mixed biking, swimming, and running for several years before deciding that running was my favorite. At my first race, a 7 miler in Tacoma when I was 20, I wore Keds and cut-off jeans. For my first marathon, in Anchorage, Alaska, when I was 24, I read that a person could run twice as far as his or her regular daily mileage, so I ran 13 miles each day and ran a 3:30.

How much did you run in your peak years? I have run 82 miles a week for over 40 years, with 90-100 during marathon training, and I still do that. I didn’t really train well until my late 30s when a local track coach, Larry Whitmore, helped me set up a training program that brought me to my lifetime PRs when I was 39 and 40. 

Top race performances and/or proudest achievements? Winning the Bangkok Marathon when I was 41 was amazing. The organizers were looking for a solid 2:40 marathoner to pull along the Asian women who had not run an Olympic qualifier at that time, and since I ran low 2:40s they asked me to come. It was definitely a radical change to go from Alaska in the winter to Bangkok. Placing in the masters at Peachtree in 1993-5 was special since I had heard so much about the largest race in the US. Running in the Olympic marathon trials in 1992 was an honor that had me crying with gratitude to be there. Racing over the years and through the age groups has been the source of so many wonderful memories.

PERSONAL BESTS (ALL AFTER AGE 40): 
5K:
 17:11, 1993 PALMER FAIR RUN 
8K:
 28:27, 1994 ALASKA WOMEN'S RUN 
10K:
 34:58, 1993 SEWARD SALMON RUN 
10 MILES:
 59:33, 1994 BOBBY CRIM 
HALF MARATHON:
 1:18:00, CHILKOOT HALF 
MARATHON:
 2:40:42, 1993 TWIN CITIES

An estimate of your total lifetime miles? I have run an average of 82 miles a week, which totals about 4,000 miles a year, for over 40 years. That would mean more than 160,000 miles. 

How much are you running now? Strength work? Stretching? I have made few changes through the years, except, of course, slowing down. I used to do two speed workouts and a long run each week, but I can’t recover as quickly now, so I do one speed workout and combine the long run with the second speed workout. I do a lot of walking and stationary biking as I grade essays or read. I do 20-30 minutes of core and 30 minutes of upper body lifting 2-3 times a week.

TRAINING PHILOSOPHY: Since I have no natural speed, consistency and miles are my friends. I love running long, but I know I have to face shorter repeats every few weeks to work on my weakness. I have coached myself for most of my running years, and I know that variety is necessary, but radical changes in training are not. I change my training slightly several times a year, but I always include long speed and short speed (or short work and tempo runs) each week unless hill repeats take the place of the short speed.

Ray, second from right, was part of Team
Red Lizard, winner of the 60+ team comp
at last year's USATF Masters 8k champs.
Has your diet changed through the years?  I have always loved vegetables and fruit, have eaten some chicken and fish but no beef or pork, and maintained a weakness for chocolate, low fat ice cream, and quality baked goods. It has been said of me that there is not a good bakery that I don’t know about.

How important is social running to you? Can you adapt to the slower times? Social running is vitally important to me. I run with friends at least half of my miles each week, and most of my best friends are runners. So few people have the chance to talk with their friends for hours at a time while accomplishing something else. Slowing down can be embarrassing, so I am very thankful for age-group and age-graded running. Each day can require a gratitude check, one in which I thank God that I can still enjoy running with so many wonderful people even if I can’t run a 400 at the speed with which I used to run marathons.

Obstacles along the way: I have been lucky to have few injuries. Obstacles would include spending so many of my competitive years in Alaska where weather and getting to major races was a challenge. Teaching and coaching can be energy sapping as well. 

Has running helped you with the aging process? Definitely! The positives of running as we age are innumerable and include things like relationships and community-building; self- concept maintenance in a culture that does not value age; the maintenance of a body that can participate in all the wonderful activities of life, mental and physical health, weight control, a sense of accomplishment...the list goes on.

What three tips would you give a younger runner who wants to be a lifetime runner? 
1--Focus on daily joy. 
2--Think long-term. 
3--Value competition without basing your value on your competitive success or failure.
Mid 1980s, with husband and first high
school xc team.

What are the biggest lessons you have learned from running? Discipline always pays off. Patience is necessary for long-term progress. Talent is less important than the desire to improve. That which you work for the hardest means the most when you achieve it. I am also happy to have maintained a true joy in running for so many years. Of course there are days when I don’t want to get out of bed at 5AM to run in the rain (or ice and snow or the treadmill in Alaska), but I have never been truly burned out or wanted a break. I am also thankful that I have had the opportunity to share my joy with so many student-athletes over my coaching years.

PROFILE--Janet Cain has been running for 44 years


Cain ran 4:00 in the 2016
Boston Marathon
Janet Cain ran her 70th marathon at the Napa Valley Marathon (NVM) in March (4:32:29) and it was her most challenging, after being declared legally blind in 2017.  She was paced by a friend, as a practice for her next marathon, Boston (16th) in April (4:49:25).  Growing up in the pre-Title IX era, Cain started running on her own. She won her first 10K race and won her second marathon, the Rome Marathon in 1985. Cain also holds the NVM course record for female athletes in the 60 to 64-year-old age group, 3:43:49, which she set in 2014. At 69, Cain has a lifetime marathon PR of 2:58:11, and estimates her lifetime miles at 175,000 miles give or take a few thousand.

Career/Profession: I am a clinical psychologist. Haven’t retired yet. I live in Sonoma, CA.

When did you start running, and why? I started running in 1975.  My life was out of control and I needed a stress reliever. I was in a demanding PhD psychology program at Case Western Reserve University. In addition, my 24-year-old husband was diagnosed with

PROFILE: Ben Beach Has Run 51 Straight Boston Marathons


(4-19) Ben Beach has run and finished 51 Boston Marathons in a row, and he'll be on the line again Monday morning in Hopkinton. Beach's streak is the longest in Boston Marathon history, and probably in world marathoning. The 69-year-old from Bethesda MD broke 2:30 four times in younger, faster days but now battles a rare neurological disorder that puts a "hitch" in his stride. It's not enough to stop Beach, however.

Career-profession? I’ve been a writer and editor for most of my career, whether with publications, environmental groups, or the federal government.

When did you start running and why? I enjoyed baseball, football, and basketball, but by age 16 it became clear that I lacked the size and strength to be successful in any of them. I started dabbling in running and discovered that I had an appropriate body for it. I was never on a HS or college team; I just ran on my own.

How much did you run in your peak years? Probably just over 100 miles/week, but I hit that only during a brief period while training for a marathon. In my peak years, I ran about 3,000 during the year.

Top race performances and/or proudest achievements?
I've run every Boston Marathon since 1968. My best marathon was in New York: 2:26:29 in 1981. In Boston I was under 2:30 four times and under 2:40 17 times. I ran the Cherry Blossom Ten-Miler in 53:15 in 1978.

An estimate of your total lifetime miles? This is a wild guess because I have almost no info from age 16 to 25. (But I wasn’t racking up too many miles during the first half of that span.) Since 1974, I’ve run about 75,000 miles.

How much are you running and cross-training now? Strength work? Stretching? My dystonia [see below] has ruined my gait, so I run only three days in an average week and probably total only 15 miles. In March (2019) I hit 102 miles, my first month over 100 in 13 years. Pathetic! I do at least two workouts most days, with a mix of running, biking, swimming (summer only), weight-lifting, rowing (on a machine), and use of an elliptical trainer and exercycle. I love the variety. I stretch a lot but remain tight.

Any recent race results? Embarrassing! I ran the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten-Mile in 1:44:45 on April 7, 2019. I believe that’s my only race the past six months.

Does it bother you that you are slower now and how do you stay motivated? Yes, it’s very frustrating that it takes me twice as long to run a marathon and that when I put in an hour on the roads, I have covered only five or six miles. I tell myself that at least my body is still capable of running. As my times deteriorate, I can still set goals and compete in my age group. I try to compare myself to other 70-year-olds rather than to Ben Beach at age 35.

Diet, weight, supplements? I weighed about 125 pounds when I graduated from college and am still 125, though I’ve probably grown a couple of inches. I have been taking glucosamine for a number of years in hopes it’s good for my joints. I tend to doubt that it is, but I haven’t heard that there’s any downside to the stuff, and I’m willing to pay for it (usually stocking up when it’s on sale). I’m not a big fan of supplements; I believe that if I eat a reasonably balanced diet, I’ll get what I need.


Injuries and health issues? Like most long-time distance runners, I’ve had all kinds of injuries—to hamstrings, calves, groins, knees, hip flexors, etc. In the early days, I was inclined to run through them, but before long I discovered that was dopey. Last year I had two hernia operations. Fortunately, the hernias came along after the marathon. I don’t think they were running-related.

My biggest health issue arose when I was in my early 50s: a neurological disorder called dystonia. In my case, the brain, for some reason, tells my left hamstring to contract when I’m trying to stride. The result is a very awkward gait, to put it charitably. I get botox shots every four months, which help somewhat. I thought my running days were over, but the human body is incredibly adaptable. [Video, 12 years ago, of Ben and his awkward, dystonia-induced stride.] 

What 3 short tips would you offer to younger runners who want to run for a lifetime?
1--Cross-train.
2--Listen to your body.
3--Stretch.

How does running & fitness improve your life on a daily/weekly basis? I can’t imagine life without exercise. I certainly concur with all those studies showing the many benefits of exercise. One thing I particularly appreciate is the freedom to eat more.

What are the biggest lessons (life lessons and running lessons) you have learned from running? Steadiness pays, and you get out what you put in. Pardon the platitudes! I want to stay healthy as long as I can.

PROFILE--Jimmy Green ran the 1956 Boston Marathon. What were you doing then?

(4-19) James (Jimmy) Green ran his first miles in 1949, and his first Boston Marathon in 1956. There's probably no active marathoner anywhere who ran Boston earlier than Green's first. Four years later, he placed third at Boston in 2:23:37. He thought he had completed his last Boston in 1997, but the necessity of making a positive, life-enhancing statement in 2014 carried him back to Hopkinton once again. Now 86 and living in Marblehead MA, Green finished Boston in 2014, 2015, and 2017. And, given his steady 25 miles per week, he thought about it again this year. But life got in the way. 

Your career/profession? Teacher, tech writer, Russian intercept operator during ’56 Hungarian uprising (exciting). I was an English major in college, and taught for many years at Saugus High School in Massachusetts. In 1972, I got a PhD in foreign affairs from American University, with a minor concentration in Russian language and studies.

When did you start running and why? A close friend, captain of the cross-country team, introduced me to the game. That was in 1949 at Quincy High School in Massachusetts.

How much did you run in your peak years? I never exceeded 3,000 miles in a single year. During my best year of training and racing before running 2:23 at Boston, I averaged 78 miles a week during the winter buildup, taking off Mondays. The other six days, I ran a 13-mile course each day, alternating hard days and easy days. I did less training the rest of the year after Boston and none in December.

Top race performances or proudest running achievements?
I ran my first Boston Marathon in 1956, finishing 23rd in 2:37:56. In 1960, I was third at Boston in 2:23:57, my personal best.

I was the first alternate on the 1960 and 1964 Olympic marathon teams. In 1960, I finished 2nd in the Milk Run in NYC 4 days before the Olympic Team left for Rome. Johnny Kelley beat me by 1:45 but I beat the other two Olympians--Alex Breckenridge and Gordon Mackenzie by over three minutes.

In 1959 I placed 2nd in the PanAm marathon (behind Kelley), followed 26 days later with a 4th in the First International Marathon in Seoul, Korea.

Training? I had no clear- cut plan. My program evolved. In 1959 and 1960, I ran mostly 13-mile workouts (at 5:50 pace one day, 6:50 the next) with Mondays off. I describe this training as internecine, because the JG (me) of one week tried to surpass or equal the times set by the JG of the previous week, month, or year on the same course, same distance.

In February, 1960, I ran a 32-miler with Kelley in Mystic, CT, near his home. We wore training clothes, and completed the course in 3:15 (about 6:10 pace). I finished about a minute behind him, but he said our was a record for the course. I usually did a 20 to 23-mile run every third week, and also did days of 20 x 440 with a 440 jog.

During cold winter weather, I often ran with 3 or 4 tops and 2 layers of sweat pants. I ran alone 95% of the time because I was the only runner in town. I believe that running to the limit alone against the clock, 3 times a week, 13 miles on average, wearing layers of clothing in winter, heavier training shoes, in every kind of weather produced a strong foundation for consistent results.


Estimate of your total lifetime miles? 110,000?

How much cross training did you do? I did occasional sets of 35 pushups but irregularly. When injured in ‘61, I did 15 sets of 35 pushups and followed each of those with sets of 10 pullups, wrists out. The total workout time was about 70 minutes for 725 pushups and 150 pullups. Most of them, I think, legitimate. I did no stretching and thus had numerous hamstring pulls often during the weeks preceding the BAA Marathon.

In the first story from my book "Tales of Boston Harbor," I describe my clam digging days in high school. There are few experiences that can equal the physical, psychological, and almost spiritual demands of the work. It was a marvelous preparation for competition. No foe is more relentless than an incoming tide, none more unforgiving.

Current training? I'm getting in about 25 miles a week. Until a month ago I thought of running Boston again this year. But then I needed cataract surgery, and a few other things came up.

Recent race results? I ran 71:30 in a Gloucester, MA, 10K on 9/30/18.

How do you maintain motivation against the inevitable slowing? I always time myself and compare current times with past ones over the same course, or on the track.  This approach keeps me motivated

Diet and weight changes? Little change except I take on average 2 Ibuprofen daily before training and one at bedtime. With a wife, who is an excellent cook, I have always eaten well.

What injuries or other health issues have you faced through the years? Hamstring pulls before 5 different Boston Marathons between 1959 and 1968. And a heart attack after the 2017 Boston. I finished in a little over 6 hours and went to a nearby cafe for a coffee with my wife. The next thing I remember is that I was stretched out on the floor. They took me across the street to the marathon medical tent. I was then sent to Mass General, where an excellent cardiac surgeon was working. He put in a stent, and I was out of the hospital in a couple of days.

A favorite inspirational quote or two? From The Plague, by Albert Camus: 
…we all carry it within us, the plague, because it has left no one—no, not one single person in
the world— untouched. And one must remain perpetually vigilant over oneself in order not, in a moment of distraction, to find oneself breathing into another’s face, foisting the infection on him. It’s the bacterium that’s natural. Everything else, health, wholeness—purity, if you will—is the product of will, and of a will that must never slacken. The honorable man, the man who infects almost no one, is he who has the fewest possible distractions. And what will it take, and what
effort, never to be distracted!

From Macbeth,
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing.
Philosophy of running and life? A friend and former Canadian great, Gordon Dickson, now deceased, used to run with a group that would spontaneously make fun of their efforts. During workouts, they might recite: "Over hill, over dale... Keep a goin'." Or: "Through the mountain pass... Keep a goin." The last phrase became their refrain, used with endless improvisations. It reflected their dark musings about runners endlessly in training like Sisyphus forever pushing the rock uphill. Our labors are absurd, yes. Gordy had it right. Yet we must try, we fight on. 

PROFILE – Maggie Mason has been running for 36 years


Santa Barbara Half Marathon,
2003
(4-19) Maggie Mason describes herself as an “adult-onset athlete” as she wasn’t athletic at all as a kid, kind of shrimpy and always picked last for every team. That changed in the second half of her life when the Santa Barbara resident discovered running, and used it to overcome depression and excess weight. She’s getting ready to retire after 30 years of teaching English at the high school and college level, and will no longer have to squeeze all her training into the pre-dawn hours before work. Mason, now 62, guesstimates her lifetime miles at 50,000. A little more than two years ago, she ran a 3:23:02 marathon on her 60th birthday.

When and why did you start running?  July 1983. I was in my mid twenties and went to a party with a guy I had a huge crush on, and then he left with another girl.  Stuck with no ride, I ran all the way home—about a mile—and I wasn’t even winded.  I enjoyed it and started running the very next day, and continued to run for fitness for years. 

I stopped running in the early 90’s, as I was married and trying to start a family.  For about five years I underwent extensive infertility protocols.  My doctor advised me to stop all strenuous aerobic exercise during the treatment.  I never got a baby, but I did get fat, due to the combination of strong fertility drugs, lack of exercise, and depression, which resulted in a weight gain of over 45 pounds. Going from a trim 120 to a peak of 165, I hated my body.

At age 40 to reclaim my body, I started biking 25 miles to work and back every day, refusing to take a day off, even during a two-week period of Santa Ana winds and 95-degree heat.  As a result, I severely strained my knees and couldn’t even walk.  My doctor told me to change up my activity so I went back to running.

I ran 8-10 miles a day, five times a week, and loved it. I had finally found my sport.  After a few months of doing what I thought then was an insane amount of mileage (40-50 miles per week), I said to myself, “I bet I could run a marathon.”  So I did.  A marathon was my first race at age 42.  Since then, I’ve run 23 marathons, and countless shorter races.

How much did you run per week in your peak years? Now?  My peak years were in my late 40’s/early 50’s, when I was running 55-65 mile weeks, topping out at 70 during marathon training.  Now, I run 40-50 mile weeks, peaking at around 55-60.  

What were some of your better/memorable races? Boston 2002. I was newly divorced, running the Boston Marathon “for fun,” because I had just run the L.A. marathon in March.  Running really helped me grapple with all my demons.  I wasn’t expecting to race well in a marathon 6 weeks after a PR, so I was just having fun: slapping kids’ hands, taking oranges from spectators, chatting…all the things I never do when racing hard, and I set a new PR. I’ve since run faster, but that was the dream marathon, the effortless one where I felt fantastic the entire time.

 Another memorable marathon was CIM in 2013.  I sprained my ankle the day before the race while running a 2-mile shakeout, and it was swollen and purple.  My coach told me to tape it up and run anyway.  I could barely fit my shoe on.  I ended up with a great time of 3:19, just 3 minutes off of my all-time PR of 3:16.

Boston Marathon, 2014
My most accomplished marathon was on my 60th birthday, at CIM in 2016.  I’d set out to break the course record for 60-64. I had to run under 3:24, and I ran 3:23:02.  I was ecstatic!  I did break the course record, but as it turns out, so did someone else—she beat me by 5 minutes!  I didn’t care…I had done what I wanted to do, and was thrilled.  What a great birthday present.

How did you train differently in your younger years?  When I was younger, I ran every day and sometimes did doubles, either biking or a second run.  I started taking two days completely off when I reached my mid-50’s, and then began substituting some cross training for pounding the pavement. 

Has your diet changed through the years?  Not substantially, although I’ve incorporated much more fruit in the last decade.  I’ve also almost completely eliminated pre-processed food from my diet. I process most of my food myself, although it is labor-intensive.  I still do love tortilla chips and cheese and crackers, though, and pizza.  I’ve discovered that I love to cook, so I spend lots of time on meal prep. 

Cross Training:  Yes! I purchased an outdoor elliptical-style stand-up bike from Kickstarter about 3 years ago (sort of like an ElliptiGo), and I either ride that or go to the gym for an elliptical speed workout once or twice a week.  I also lift weights.  When I retire, I plan to hike in our lovely mountains more often, and run errands by walking or biking.

How important is social running to you? I’ve run with a very close-knit small group as well as a larger running club for years, and have formed lifelong, solid, beautiful friendships.  When you’re out there for 2-3 hours, you tell stories, solve problems, let off steam, share small and large victories.  Also, doing the hard work together is inspiring.  I feel so buoyed whenever I’m struggling on the track, or grinding through a tough hill workout, and someone shouts, “Go, Maggie!” 

How are you adapting to getting slower? Slowing down has been humbling, but I accept it with alacrity.  My current all-out miles on the track used to be my 10K and 10-miler pace.  But this is my body now, and it gives me what it can.  I try to treat it with kindness and respect, and be grateful for the gift it keeps giving me.

I love age-graded and age-group results, because they help me stay competitive and excited.  Since I entered the racing scene after 40, these measures have been far more meaningful to me than overall results. 

Obstacles along the way: I’ve had two major chronic injuries during the past 20 years that took me down but not out.  One lasted 6 months, an annoying and painful psoas injury.  The other, an insertion-point hamstring pull, persisted for 2 years, and also reverberated down my leg, manifesting in multiple other ways, all painful and game-changing.  I ran marathons while in the thick of both of these injuries, and frankly, I don’t recommend it. 
September, 2012

A favorite quote:  “In all the activities of life, from the most trivial to the most important, the secret of proficiency lies in an ability to combine two seemingly incompatible states—a state of maximum activity and a state of maximum relaxation.”--Aldous Huxley, from his book of essays, Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, which is out of print and which I highly recommend…it’s really hard to find. 

Has running helped you with the aging process?  Um…YEY-ESS!  1.  I always look forward to “aging up” into the next group, so I can stay competitive.  2.  Being fit and strong is a great gift as we age, and health is a powerful incentive to run.  3.  Because I’m competitive, I run in pace groups with younger women who have become dear friends.  They’re having babies now, and I’m involved in their lives. Delightful.  4. Running gives me a connection to life and vibrancy, and reminds me that no matter our age or stage in life, we can find relevance and purpose. I think it was Samuel Johnson in Rasselas who pointed out that forward motion is critical to our humanity.  Running gives us that sense of movement and direction.  It’s profound.

What three tips would you give a younger runner who wants to be a lifetime runner? 
1) Pace yourself, in all things running.  Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.  Respect the workout, the training plan, or the race. Learn to apportion your energy.  That takes maturity and restraint.  

2)  If you feel depleted or unmotivated for weeks or more, it’s time to rest and regroup.   Don’t drive yourself to the point where you have to tap out just because you’ve set certain goals.  If running becomes drudgery instead of joy, take time off.  You will come back stronger. 

3) Incorporate variety in your running. Seek out new routes, take off your watch or earbuds, sign up for an out-of-town event, or train for a race distance or terrain you’re unfamiliar with. 

What are the biggest lessons you have learned from running? Running engenders endurance and resilience, which spills over into life lessons in so many ways.  I’ve learned to be more comfortable with discomfort, to ride out the bad patches, to hunker down for the long haul.  And to treasure the good stretches!   Also, I love the mantra of “hard, easy.”  It describes so beautifully not only what is good for our running, but good for our lives and our souls.