Thursday, August 26, 2010

Late to the Dance

In keeping with the "dance" theme I've been thinking about how I came late in life to the marathon.  For the first 25 years of my running life I thought marathoners were crazy.

Why would anyone want to put their body through that torture? What was the point? Twenty-six miles struck me as too arduous; too much work and too much pain.

So when the 1992 Olympic Marathon Trials for women came to town, I jumped at the chance to watch and shake my head.  That year the setting was Columbia, S.C. and as luck would have it the route wound right past my then sister-in-law's house.

Watching those women climb a slight incline around mile 18 didn't grant me any great epiphany.  I do remember watching the looks on all of their faces and thinking, "They don't look bad...just determined."

Several years later my daughter and I moved to Portland, OR, where one of the best marathons in the country takes place in early October.  The Portland Marathon lands on nearly every "Top 10" list when it comes to marathons, especially for first-timers.

Still, my interest remained that of a spectator.  While many people including my husband tend to equate viewing a marathon to "watching paint dry" I disagree.  There is something magical about watching all of those people push themselves towards a goal. Whether it's just finishing; get a personal record or an age-group award; or checking it off their list, each person has a reason for being out there.  To me, it's breath-taking and inspiring.

But I still thought participating wasn't for me.  I was too old, too undisciplined. So I continued running and after a lifetime of 10ks, advanced to the half-marathon.  It struck me as an almost perfect distance: long enough to require training and just a dollop of discipline, short enough not to kill me.

Then in the late winter of 2005, a fresh-faced 31-year-old popped into my life.  Monica offered to start running with me after my running buddy, Sarah, known to many of you as co-author of the book " Run Like a Mother" and the website by the same name) went on the DL thanks to her pregnancy with twins.

Somewhere along the line Monica convinced me to run the Portland Marathon.  If I didn't know her better I'd suspect witchcraft because I have no memory of signing up for it.  Or for the weekly long runs which the Portland Marathon Clinic offers each year beginning in early April.

All I know is that on Sunday, October 9, 2005, I ran my first marathon at the ripe old age of 48.  And finished in under four hours thereby qualifying for Boston.

So, yes, this is a better-late-than-never kind of story.  I like to think it will prompt you to follow-up on every little nagging interest, even the ones that scare you.  Even the ones that seem to belong to younger gals. 


  1. Thanks for the linked-in-love, Ellison. I love reading your blog!

  2. Okay, now, it's one thing to train for a marathon at the ancient age of 48, but to break the coveted 4 hour mark your first time out? You know that's hard for most people, right?

    New moniker for you: Old Gal Running Fast.

    Love your blog...keep 'em coming.

    Shelly (of infamy)

  3. Thanks right. Great performance right out of the gate!

  4. Thanks ladies! and yes, Shelly, I'm aware of the honor and will be blogging about that later. Like you, I find it helps to run with the young 'uns!

  5. I love your blog Mommy! I like the sweet story about Monica inspiring you to run your first marathon. She is such a good friend to you. I think this blog is missing one thing though....ME!!!!!!!!!!!!