Monday, March 31, 2008

Everyone Has A Story

I had my first Saturday off from work in several weeks and couldn't pass up the opportunity to get back for a run with the team -- despite the fact that I had a 4-mile race on my calendar for later in the day.

But the April Fools' 4-Miler, the third in the race series I signed up for, wasn't until 11 a.m. That gave me time to get 6 miles in with the team, then head to Salisbury for the race.

Crazy? Probably. But how else was I going to fill my day off?

Actually, it wasn't that bad. The 6 miles with the team went well. I was glad they were running relatively slowly. Coach Jack ran with us and we chatted for a while. Then I ran with another team member, Shauna, who recently lost 100+ pounds and discovered a love of running.

Her weight loss really triggered a completely new life for her. In fact, people don't even recognize her, she told me. She lost the weight through good diet and lots of exercise. Last fall, she and her sister trained for and completed the Manchester Marathon. Good for them.

On Sunday, Shauna took at left at the Old Mobil to get 7 miles in for the day. I took a right and finished up the 6-mile loop. I was concerned about time and that my legs would be too tired for the race.

I made it back to my car in plenty of time, stopped for a bagel and drove to the race.

Once at the registration table, I picked up my number and another long-sleeved T-shirt (another something to wear to bed, I guess) and searched for the Starting Line, which wasn't visible from the registration area.

I spotted a couple of older ladies wearing jackets with the logo of the running club who was hosting the race. I figured they would know where to go.

So I walked with them -- discovering that one of them had just turned 87 years old. Yes, 87 years old and walking to the chilly start of a 4-mile road race. Oh, by the way, she had cracked a rib a few weeks earlier, but thought she'd be well enough to finish. And finish she did. (I looked for her on the results page posted on Good for her.

Near the starting line, runners huddled up against a big building that blocked the wind. I struck up a conversation with the runner next to me -- a young woman from Scarborough, Maine, who signed up for the race series with her husband.

As we chatted, she told me that she's in training for an Ultra Marathon --- 50K. That's 30+ miles.

Her big run is coming up in a few weeks. On Sunday, she was planning on running a 20-mile race from Maine through New Hampshire to Massachusetts. She's run the Disney Marathon for 9 years with her husband and this year did the Goofy Challenge, where participants run the Half Marathon on Saturday and the Full Marathon on Sunday.

To look at her, she didn't look like a super-athlete. She just looked like anyone else in the crowd for the 4-miler. We ran together for the first couple of miles of the race. I asked her a lot of questions about an Ultra Marathon -- mostly trying to understand what would drive a person to do such a thing.

She liked a challenge, completes three or so marathons a year and was looking for something new. So why not run 50K? Well, good for her.

I finished the race in 37 minutes, 40 seconds - averaging a 9:20 mile. I was very pleased with the time, especially considering the race actually made for 10 miles for me for the day. Good for me.

It's really interesting to meet to people and hear their stories. Everyone seems to have one: the runner who lost 100+ pounds and decided to train for a marathon, the 87-year-old woman who's still running races, the Ultra-Marathoner... and me.

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