Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What Awaits Over the Hill?

Bruce Springsteen turns 60 in September. Meryl Streep turned 60 in June. Joan Benoit Samuelson is 52. Jamie Lee Curtis is 50. Hilary Clinton is 62. Greg Norman's in his mid-fifties. Dara Torres is 42 (yeah, I know, she's not quite into the "second half", but still...) These athletes, politician and performers do not appear to be slowing down any on account of their age. In fact, some are feisty and forward-moving as ever!

This past Sunday, after completing a ten-mile run, I was talking with two female runners who are also in their fifties. We were discussing running after 50. One said she was running really well in her late-forties into her fifties, but that things have steadily gone down the tubes. My other friend wants to know what the heck is happening to her energy stores and consistency? She feels like she is on a roller coaster - sometimes she begins a run and feels like crap, and then suddenly all is well with the world. Then the negative, doubting self-talk kicks in and it's difficult for her to trust her training.

I am still fairly uninitiated, having entered this new age division less than a year ago. And I feel good. Granted, I don't always sleep well and often have night sweats; I train only at a moderate intensity; I can be moody and down-spirited without any obvious reason; I know I should cross-train and I don't; but mostly I remain confident about my running. In fact, my greatest concern about this issue is not my own ability, rather, it's where is everybody else?

We live in a state that has no shortage of excellent runners. In 1984, during the first ever Women's Olympic Marathon Trials, we had three women running from Maine. They are now all in their fifties. Since then, they and many, many others have been engaged in a high level of local and national competition. But Maine is a small pond and it appears that the landscape is changing. Maybe it's just my old eyes focusing on my old age group.

And this is exactly what disturbs my friend: Are the 50 and over women just not running, and if so, why not? Or if they are, how has it changed? What's it like now as they enter the second half of life? How does menopause affect their training? What do they do about it? Is it all physical, or could it be they think about competition differently and just might not want to do it? What does it feel like to have to slow down? Do we have to slow down?

I bet you can tell I am very interested in having this running conversation with the aforementioned runners and other experts. I'll keep you posted on any program developments and information I gather. Thanks for reading.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Busy Summer

I had hoped to be able to say it's finally stopped raining, but I can't.

Pretty much all of June and now, half-way through the third week of July, the weather has been wet. We never even planted our tomatoes and herbs this year. I hope the local farmers fared better and will have nice produce to offer at the farmers' markets...

Who am I kidding, though? I have no time to garden. I can't believe how busy this time of year is for me. And I know I'm not alone. People are on the move or they have friends and family on the move to come visit them. I think living in Vacationland makes us more prone to this "busy season" than if we lived in other places.

I see this with the Peak Performance Marathon and Half-Marathon training group. People have family commitments, vacation plans, visiting friends and relatives, weddings to attend, weddings to plan! It makes it a challenge to stick to a training schedule with all the extra activity, but as runners finish out their second month of base-building, it's important to keep the mileage up, and consistent.

Tomorrow the group will be out at Cape Elizabeth training on the roads there. Several runners will be running an awesome ten-mile loop. I love this loop for its scenery, rolling hills, and absence of significant vehicular traffic. The course is the Mid-Winter Classic road race, and I prefer to run it in reverse. (No, I'm not running backwards...I mean in the opposite direction of the race.) I find the clockwise direction provides a more gradual approach to the hills, that is after one is warmed up. Part of the course also covers the first mile of the Beach to Beacon 10K.

For most of the runners in the group, accomplishing a ten-mile run is a huge achievement and a 'first' for many. I love it when runners achieve a break-through in their training. It's a notch on the belt and something to be proud of, and certainly a gift to bear witness to it.

And the aspiration to run a first marathon or a half-marathon is awesome. It's rewarding to work with these first-timers as they head into the unknown. "Put your blinders on," I advise, because there are so many distractions to training, and such a great need to stay focused. We're nearing a half-way point in the training program, and the summer busyness is at full tilt. Focus, and keep your eye on the prize.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

July 1

Rabbit, rabbit.

This is our first utterance on the first day of each month. It's supposed to bring good luck for the month. My friend Joycie and I have been practicing this little exercise for years and now I have infected my family with the habit. It's a fun way to stay in touch with Joyce and a superstitious way to keep things looking up!

Many athletes are superstitious in their quest for success. You hear about the lucky pair of socks that MUST be worn for racing, or the small stone in the pocket. The most vivid example I can think of is probably more like an obsessive compulsive disorder. Do you remember seeing Nomar Garciaparra, the former Red Sox shortstop, take the plate? It was actually painful to watch him twitch and fiddle with his gloves, pant leg, and stance when at bat. But he apparently had to go through it to play his game.

I tend to wear tried and true clothing on race day, for sure, but I can't think of a superstition I hold related to my performance other than occasionally reading my horoscope and trying to say "Rabbit rabbit" each month. How about you?