I wrote the final chapter of Twenty-four Years to Boston—My Journey from the Vegetable Aisle to Boylston Street when I crossed the finish line of the 2005 Boston Marathon, which kicked-off an entirely new venture. In January of 2006, I won my first running award at the ripe age of fifty—a bronze medal for placing third in my age group at the Bermuda International Marathon. The award was presented by the Premier of Bermuda at the packed Harbor View Ballroom in the Fairmont Hamilton Princess Hotel. Five months later I won a second bronze at the Run the Rockies Half-Marathon in Frisco, Colorado, at nearly 10,000 feet altitude.
Reality struck a few years later–age caught up with me. After two knee surgeries in less than a year, the orthopedic surgeon told me that I had more arthritis than he’d like to see in a guy my age. He recommended that I consider running shorter distances, like the 5K or 10K; definitely not more than a half-marathon. It was hard advice to swallow, but at fifty-five I had to begin thinking long-term and resigned to the idea that my marathon days were over.
I revamped my fitness routine and began running less-often and shorter distances. I compensated for reduced running with increased cycling, weight training and other low-impact aerobic exercises. But no matter what I did, I missed the euphoric feeling of a soaking perspiration that only came while I was on a long run. I began running almost exclusively on soft surfaces and entered more trail runs. Trail running became a blessing and revived my otherwise directionless running life.
After two years of following this relatively modest exercise routine, something unexpected happened—I inadvertently discovered that my knees no longer ached after 10K, so I kept going. I completed a 20K and a half-marathon in 2011 and registered for the Bucks County Marathon in November 2012—my first in four years.
I won’t be following a traditional marathon training program like I had for my previous marathons. There won’t be any fifty-mile weeks in the log book, but I learned from experience that I will have to put in more miles than I did for The Untrained Marathon. To prepare for November, I’ll train more often on off-road, hilly terrain, like this weekend in the Halfwit Half-Marathon in Reading, PA, and I’ll log more hours on my bike.
There is more than one way to skin a cat. Stay tuned!